Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2013

Reacting to False Perceptions

Have you ever been confronted with a perception of a situation that is off the mark or even completely false? I find this to be very upsetting and frustrating. For example, whenI see news report of soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces portrayed in various propaganda outlets in a negative light, it is very upsetting. The question though is, do we just dismiss this perception as foolish and basically do nothing or do we have to be proactive in combating these false perceptions ?

I think we see a fascinating lesson from this weeks parsha regarding this. The Torah emphasizes in the first verse of the parsha not once but twice that Isaac was the son of Abraham. Rashi explains the necessity for this. It so happens to be that for many decades that Abraham and Sarah were married and they were unable to have kids. Once Sarah was kidnapped by a tribal king named Avimelech and spent the night in his palace. Avimelech was afflicted with an illness and decided to release Sarah. Shortly after, Sa…

Losing with Dignity

There is no question about it. We all want to win and win big. It’s a great feeling coming out on top after a hard fought competition. The reality in life is that losing is inevitable. No baseball team ever went 162-0 in a season. The 1972 Miami Dolphins are unique in the world of sports precisely because they were the only team even to go unbeaten in one season in the NFL.
I won’t address the issue of how a defeat or setback can be transformed into a learning opportunity. That will be the subject of a future post on this blog. I want to focus on how we can learn how to accept defeat with grace. This is definitely not an easy thing, but it’s one of those things that separate the men from the boys.
There is a fascinating story in the Talmud that reflects this idea. Prior to the destruction of the Beis Hamkidash (Temple) in Jerusalem, the Romans imposed a siege around the Holy City. The leading rabbi of that generation, Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai was smuggled out in a coffin after faking h…

Are you willing to settle for the status quo ?

We are faced with challenges of all kind throughout our lives. Sometimes we are faced with personal challenges that can cause us to do much reflecting and soul searching. Yet there are times that as a nation we must pause and reflect if the direction we are going in is viable or do the challenges that surround us threaten that. I am not referring to the U.S Government shutdown that due to the intransigence of various elected officials left much of the federal government closed for nearly two weeks. That is probably worth exploring a different time. I would entitle that post – Are The Founding Fathers Rolling in their Graves?

I am referring to the much debated survey of American Jews that was released by the Pew Institute. The proportion of Jews who say they have no religion and are Jewish only on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity or culture is growing rapidly, and two-thirds of them are not raising their children Jewish at all.

Other notable findings were : Overall, the intermarriage rate…

Reflections on a Tragedy

This past Yom Kippur our community was afflicted with a horrible tragedy. During Kol Nidre services, I was giving my sermon to our Sephardic Minyan. (A couple of years ago we started a this service for all Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent and their service is steeped in their rich Sephardic Heritage). Someone had come into the minyan and informed us that there had been a major accident on San Jose Blvd and that one of our congregants en route to services at the Sephardic Minyan had been fatally struck. We learned that Esther Ohayon a beloved member of our community was killed in this horrific tragedy and her daughter Orly was taken to the hospital and was in critical condition. Our Yom Kippur quickly turned into a day in intense grief. We still continued with services until the end of Yom Kippur but we were in this dark cloud that seemed to be suffocating. How it is that such sweet, loving and righteous people could have that inflicted upon them on the way to synagogue? …