An Ear For Outrage©

An Ear For Outrage© Mishpatim 2019/5779 Rabbi David Baum - Internet Outrage Exercises Stay in shape with online hate by Brian McFadden
I had an interesting experience with my father recently.  We had all of his grandkids over for a dinner, grandkids who range from 3 - 9, which I would say are very loud ages.  My father never had a problem with them…that is until he got new hearing aids.  Now he can hear everything, which in these situations, is a problem.  So his solution to our loud children?  He took his hearing aids out.

Why do I bring this up?  Because I feel like in this day and age, when the world and information are at our finger tips, when news events and personalities are loud and fast, that we do the same thing - we take out our hearing aids, stop listening, and act immediately.

This may sound the definition of what it means to be a Jew – after all, we famously received the Torah without hearing any of it – Na'aseh v'Nishmah, a line we actually read in …

Broken and Whole

It has been a tragic week for our community as we mourned the loss of Josef Pessah, alav hashalom, or as we knew him, Yossi, who passed away at the young age of twenty after a nine month battle with cancer. The Pessah family, and the entire community, both our congregations and others in Boca Raton, family here and in Israel, young friends and a college campus are heartbroken. After his passing, the family asked if we could ask our congregation to perform a very important mitzvah, from the time of death to the time of burial. I wanted to share the story of a sacred act that our congregation took part in last week after Yossi passed: shimrah. As I explained in a letter to our community, "One of the most important mitzvoth/commandments in the Jewish tradition is K'vod HaMet - showing respect for the dead. In his article, The Centrality of Kavod HaMet(Honoring the Dead), Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman writes: "Unlike us, the rabbis did not begin with the idea of a self who disappea…

Jewish #Disruption©

Jewish #Disruption©
Parashat Terumah 5779 - February 9, 2019

Facebook has a motto that they were famous for, and now are infamous: 'Move fast and break things' – it speaks to their company, the tech industry in general who values the concept of disruption. Disruption might seem like a negative term, but recently, it has become the ideal for any company. Move fast and break things. Disruption is the new model. Disruption leads to innovation, to startups and new technologies. But it also leads to people and companies being left behind – people losing their purpose. The new overtakes the old, and the old slink away. I wanted to read you something that challenges the concept of disruption:
“At a certain point — somewhere on the way from sounding smart and buzzy to becoming an over-worn cliché — a word loses its power. Disrupt is a good word we have mistreated terribly to the point it has become powerless. We’ve forgotten what it means, even as several smart people have written columns…

The Prophetesses of Old and Today©

The Prophetesses of Old and Today© BeShalach 5779/2019 Rabbi David Baum
Jewish mother jokes are a big staple of Jewish humor. There is the story of the son who came to his mother and shared that he would become a rabbi. She said, “you could have been a doctor, a lawyer, but a rabbi? What kind of job is that for a nice Jewish boy?!?”
Please know, when I told my mother that I was going to rabbinical school, she never said that to me. My mother is proud of all of her children, and yes, very proud of her son the rabbi. By now, most of you have received the invitation to our congregation's celebration of 10 years of my tenure as Rabbi of Congregation Shaarei Kodesh. As I thought about some of the things I have accomplished, I have to go back to something I've shared with you before: I've made my mother proud on many occasions, but being on NPR in December was a high point for her. I told you all this fact, but I never shared why she kvelled so much.
Here's why: My mother, …

The Ingredients for Holy Ground©

The Ingredients for Holy Ground© By Rabbi David Baum Congregation Shaarei Kodesh
I want you to think about a holy ground or holy space – what is the first place that comes to mind?  What makes it holy to you?

Last week, we were in the mountains of Georgia at Camp Ramah Darom's Winter Break Family Camp.  The camp has been our home away from home for many years as individuals and as a couple, but for the last seven winters, we were able to share that feeling with our three children, which is truly a blessing.  We get to experience this place which has done so much for our family, literally creating it, together.  This was a bitter sweet family camp because after seven winters, we will not be returning so it gives me pause to reflect upon an idea that we are introduced to again in this week and last week's parashah, holy space.

So how does a space or ground become holy?  First, I want to share the story of how Ramah Darom started, and I learned about it from an old friend who ca…

Even Higher - A Tribute to Stan Lee©

Even Higher - A Tribute to Stan Lee© - Parashat Vayetze 2018 Rabbi David Baum
This week, the Jewish world lost one of it’s greatest heroes, his name was Stan Lieber.You may have never heard of this name, so I’ll give you his superhero name, Stan Lee.If you’re still confused than obviously, you aren’t a nerd like me.Stan Lee was the creator of many of the comic book heroes you have probably seen in the movies:Spider-Man and Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Doctor Strange, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, and my personal favorite, Ant-Man.

As Leil Leibovitz wrote last week: “So entrenched is Lee’s legacy that he was credited, when receiving the National Medal of the Arts from President George W. Bush in 2008, for creating nothing short of a new American mythology, a universe rich not only with thrilling characters but also with timeless moral lessons. “His complex plots and humane superheroes,” read the medal’s citation, “celebrate courage, honesty, and the importance of helping the …

Alternate Realities and The Real After Pittsburgh©

Alternate Realities and The Real After Pittsburgh© Rabbi David Baum Parsahat Hayyei Sarah – November 3, 2018
Who in here has felt, after the events of the last week, that we are living in an 'alternate reality'?  Alternate realities are all the rage now in pop culture.

There is a very popular show on Amazon streaming right now – it's called the Man In the High Castle.  The show, in its third season, is based on reality, an alternate reality.  In this reality, the allies during World War II were not successful; in this reality, the U.S. is the American Reich; the Nazi ideology spreads to America.  The government isn't German, it's American, they speak English with no accents – the Nazis didn't need to send an invasion force – they had people waiting to embrace their worldview.  As you can imagine, the Jews do not fare well.  Philip Roth, the great Jewish-American novelist, also wrote a book about an alternate reality called the Plot Against America.  In this al…