Parshat Re’eh 5774

Dvar Torah given at Kehilat Hadar, August 23, 2014 

Re’eh contains the laws of what you can and can’t eat- a system that evolves into Kashrut as we know it. And there are many rules. Rules about separate dishes and about kosher certifications, special rules that apply to knives especially if they are used to cut onions and chilis. And then there’s Passover!

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2nd day Pesah 5774

Dvar Torah given at Ramah Darom Pesah Retreat, April 16, 2014 

Hag Sameah.

Shortly in Musaf, depending what siddur you’re using, we will read the following words:

וקרב פזורינו מבין הגיום ונפצותינו כנס מירכתי ארץ

Gather our scattered from among the nations and our Diaspora from the edges of the world

והביאנו לציון עירך ברנה ולירושלים בית מקדשך בשמחת עולם

and bring us with rejoicing to your city Zion and to Jerusalem and your temple with everlasting joy.

ושם נעשה לפנך את קרבנות חובותינו … Continue reading

Being Invisible

This morning- I got to minyan early. I’m standing in the synagogue, reconnecting with someone I haven’t seen in years when three others walk into the room. One of them says, “great we have four people.”

To be honest I don’t remember his exact words, but I do remember math. When does 2+3=4? When one has the xx character trait thereby making her ineligible to count in an Orthodox minyan and apparently rendering her invisible and not a person.

This experience has happened to me before- Unfortunately, I have been relegated to non-person status in cities all over the world, almost always by  men, who, I hope, don’t realize the pain that they have caused . What makes this time different is that I’m at the Siach conference- an environmental and social justice conversation. More info here.

It is certainly a great group of very talented people. Most of the conversations that I’ve had have been with fascinating people, presenting the challenge of not wanting to extract myself from intense and good discussions. I was having a great time until this moment, and I’m not sure what to do with it. Perhaps I was tired because this morning I just stood there in silence (usually i have use some snarky reply to the effect of “no you need one more man, i’m a person too”). I expected that I might not count in the minyan. But I didn’t expect to be rendered invisible.

How can we talk about social justice when we can’t even acknowledge the personhood of those standing right in front of us?

Clearly we have work to do.

merit of tinokos shel beis raban??!

Went for the weekend to pick up my mail- and I received a letter from these guys.

The gist of the letter is really something that can’t be described, so I copied it from their website:

Our Torah leaders have recognized the increase in worldwide travel accidents. That’s why they are so enthusiastic about this powerful, protective measure: Shemirah Bidrachim – Protection on the Road.

In this revolutionary initiative, thousands of people just like you are protecting themselves with an effective method that has proven itself throughout our history: the merit of pure Jewish children whose prayers and Torah study keep the world in existence

To quote Hagaon Harav Shmuel Halevi Wosner, shlita,The pure and holy prayers of Jewish children have the ability to cease the casualties of vehicle mishaps!

For just a few pennies a day, you too can gain this protection for yourself and your family.

In exchange for a contribution made to the Ashdod Mercaz Chinuch Project, the pupils will study and recite pirkei tehilim daily, and entreat G-d to protect and save the insured from any trouble and distress and lead him toward peace, emplace his footsteps toward peace, and have him reach his desired destination for life, gladness and peace, and send blessing and success in all his endeavors, wherever he may turn.”

Seriously?! This raises a number of questions:
  1. How did I get on your mailing list? (no idea)
  2. Will they insure females, or since they should be at home anyway, they won’t be covered?
  3. Who takes this seriously? (from their website, Rav Eliyashiv, Ovadya Yosef and others)
  4. Do people buy this? (at least a couple people with a faulty sense of logic)
  5. Are they aware that their claim that the prayers of children studying torah might not work?
Apparently so, their website includes the following disclaimer:

This agreement is a spiritual agreement! It does not constitute any grounds for the Insured to claim money from the Ashdod Mercaz Chinuch Project.

I guess the prayers of tinokos shel beis raban are not as effective at protecting against lawsuits.