Where Heaven and Earth Truly Touch© - BeHukkotai 2019/5779

Where Heaven and Earth Truly Touch© Parashat BeHukkotai Rabbi David Baum

Have you ever met someone who has climbed to the peak of the tallest mountains in the world?  They describe it as exhilarating, exhausting, breathtaking, humbling.  Climbing to the top of Mount Everest is


This week, some shocking news came from Nepal – an eleventh climber died on Mount Everest in the last two weeks. Christopher Kulish, age 62, climbed to the top of Everest and joined an elite club called the Seven Summits Club, a small group of people who have climbed to the highest point on every continent.
His brother, Mark said, “He saw his last sunrise from the highest peak on Earth...We are heartbroken at this news.”
So it got me thinking, what's so special about this mountain? Mandy Moore, the actress from This Is Us, was at Everest in these last two weeks, and she wrote the following: “There is so much magic in these mountains. They represent adventure in the grandest form and in a langua…

Silence Before the Noise© - A Pre-Passover Message

Silence Before the Noise© Shabbat HaGadol 5779/2018 Rabbi David Baum
Photo by @chairulfajar_ on Unsplash
It's Passover time which means I'm at the kosher grocery stores a lot, or as I call it, my own personal Mitzraim.  Waiting in long lines, you cannot help but overhear conversations, mainly because we are such a verbose people, it is crowded and loud, and of course, hearing aids seem to be in short supply.  So I think I'm going to start a new Twitter Account – Overheard in Boca.  I want to test one out, so here's my first Tweet:

"You should hear what Sarah regularly says about her husband, poor guy. She never has a good word to say about him. I think she must have graduated school with a degree in lashon hara.”

“And do you know what, Estelle? He's really not such a bad man. I mean look at me - my Chaim is a fat, lazy slob and cheap as they come. But have you ever heard me say a bad word about him?"

We come to an interesting time in our calendar – it is Sha…

The Eighth Day – Dealing with the Loss of a Child after Shiva© Parashat Shmini 2019/5779

The Eighth Day – Dealing with the Loss of a Child after Shiva©Parashat Shmini 2019/5779 Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
I recently spoke with a colleague about a group of congregants who have an unfortunate connection - parents who have lost children. He told me a story of a rabbi who had lost his child. This rabbi had just started his work at a new congregation. For those who are not rabbis, there is nothing more joyous than the beginning of your time working at a new congregation – your life and work is pregnant with possibilities. You truly believe that the skies are the limit.
And then, tragedy struck – the rabbi and his family lost their thirteen-year-old son. If anyone could handle the loss of a child, it must be a rabbi, right? They have more faith than anyone, more experience than anyone when it comes to coping with loss. How did he handle this loss and overcome tragedy? The rabbi told me the following: “He could not remember one thing from that first year. He walked through a f…

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, …