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Vayigash: The Redemption of Darth Vader… and Others

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Vayigash:The Redemption of Darth Vader… and Others December 19, 2015/7 Tevet 5776 Rabbi David Baum, Congregation Shaarei Kodesh



A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
These words began a phenomena in America and around the world.
Why did Star Wars become such a phenomena?Special effects?Not really – there are plenty of movies out there with special effects that bomb, and many that do well, but Star Wars is different.I remember in college, I had a friend that would watch Star Wars every weekend – I thought it was a little crazy – he memorized lines and would recite them over and over:
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
“You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon? … It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.”
“You don’t need to see his identification … These aren’t the droids you’re looking for … He can go about his business … Move along.”
And of course:
“May the Force be with you.”
What made Star Wars so enduring weren’t the special effects; it wasn’t the gre…

Vayetzei - Living Between Two Worlds - Syrian Refugees and Us©

Vayetzei - Living Between Two Worlds - Syrian Refugees and Us© Rabbi David Baum - 5776/2015

Last week, I did not here the news about the terrorist attacks in France until I arrived to shul on Friday evening so I did not have the opportunity to go on social media until Shabbat. When I logged on to Facebook and Twitter, I was amazed with how so many of my friends knew exactly how to handle the situation of the Syrian refugees which became a bi-product of the attacks.
To those who had your minds made up right away...I truly envy you.
It took me time to understand my perspective, to understand a Jewish perspective – I was stuck between my heart, seeing the suffering of the refugees, and my head, which is aware of the potential dangers of the refugees.
We had a shocking Shabbat that is becoming all too familiar. Another terrorist attack in Paris, this time, much deadlier than the last. I remember living after 9/11, going on the city bus in Gainesville the day of 9/11, and actually feel…

Shabbat Message - A Shabbat Of Solidarity With Israel

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Shabbat Shalom Shaarei Kodesh, This week, our people celebrated the new month of Marcheshvan.  I wrote about the interesting name given to this month in a blog posting that I hope you read (click here to read Why I'm Wearing Blue on MARcheshvan).  The name Marcheshvan is actually one word, but some have separated the name into two:  Mar (bitter) Cheshvan.  Some say that it is bitter because there are no Jewish holidays during the month, but many others disagree.  As Jews, we celebrate each month, regardless of what will happen.  When we announce the new month, as we did last Shabbat at Shaarei Kodesh, we proclaim as a community:  “May it be Your will, Adonai our God and God of our ancestors, to reawaken in us joy and blessing in the month ahead.”  During this holy time as we take our Torahs out of the ark and the community stands, we pray for peace, goodness, and blessing.  Finally, we pray for a time when all of world Jewry will return to Israel. The literal meaning of this line…

Why I’m wearing Blue on Rosh Chodesh MarChesvan

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Why I’m wearing Blue on Rosh Chodesh MarChesvan By Rabbi David Baum


By Rabbi David Baum
Rosh Chodesh is supposed to be a happy time – but this month, is kind of bitter.Today is Rosh Chodesh Heshvan but the month is commonly called Marcheshvan.The month is related to an Akadian word which was the 8th month of the Babylonian calendar.[1] There is a tradition in Judaism to emphasis the bitterness when we say Marcheshvan, Mar, the bitter, and then Cheshvan – the bitter. The rabbis say it’s bitter because there are no Jewish holidays in the month.But to be honest, as rabbi of a busy shul, maybe it’s good to have one month without a Jewish holiday!
There are other explanations for the name of the month, and I think it’s important to highlight them at this time.
The Pri Chadash (Even Ha’ezer 126:7) offers the only explanation that I have found for calling this month by the two-word name Mar Cheshvan.He suggests that the name Mar Cheshvan is based on the fact that it is the beginning of the…

Sukkot Chol HaMoed Message

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Moadim L'Simcha, 
There was a moment in my life that I will never forget.  It was the 9th of Av 5769 (or 2009), two days after our first son, Avi was born.  As we know, the 9th of Av is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, and yet, I could not help but smile as I walked inside our sanctuary.  Even as everyone was sitting on the floor, and reading megillat Eicha, I could not help but be elated because of the birth of our first child.  There are times in our calendar when we are compelled to feel a certain way.  On Tisha B’Av, it is sadness, but on Sukkot, we are commanded to feel the complete opposite of sadness:  Simcha, or happiness.  On Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot, we will be reading from the book of Ecclesiastes, which famously states in chapter 3, “There is a season that is set for everything, a time for every experience under heaven - A time for weeping and a time for laughing, A time for wailing and a time for dancing.”  When I stepped into the sanctuary that day, the 9th…

Neilah - Go UP!©

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Go UP!© - Neilah 2015/5776 Rabbi David Baum Congregation Shaarei Kodesh
This year, my siblings got me a new gadget for my birthday, something called a Fit Bit. You know you’re getting older when you get exercise trackers for your birthday.


But I am getting to an age where I do need to take better care of myself, to exercise more, and this device helps me become better because I can keep track of my steps.Now, instead of sitting on the couch at night, I’ll be pacing in my house at night if I’m close to 10,000 steps.
But Fit Bits are all about reaching that goal, 10,000 steps a day.When you reach that goal, your arm starts vibrating – it’s like your arm is cheering for you – you’ve accomplished the goal.But what happens when you don’t reach that goal?I was recently at my doctor’s office and the nurse said, “hey, nice fit bit, do you like it?”I answered, yes, and she continued, “I used to have one, but I never got up to 10,000 steps, so I took it off.”
In Judaism, we have 613 mitzvoth or c…

The Holiness of Glass Blowing – Part 2 –Two Cups: The Broken and The Whole©

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The Holiness of Glass Blowing – Part 2 –Two Cups:  The Broken and The Whole© Yom Kippur Day, 5776/2015 Rabbi David Baum
Last night, I told you the story about the glass cup I created, well, now’s the time for you to see it, but here’s the thing – there’s two of them.


Confused?Let me explain.When one makes something out of steel, you finish the product by dipping it into water so it cools.But you can’t do that with glass.After it becomes formed, you have to take the glass and put it in a special vessel where it is gradually cooled over 6 – 10 hours.This is necessary because if you cool it too quickly, the glass will shatter, but if you put it in a hot place, the glass can melt.
The next morning after I made my beautiful glass cup, I was expecting to have my creation in my hand, ready to show off to my friends.I went to the glass blower and asked him when I could pick it up.He looked at me and said, “Well, we had a problem – your glass cup was great, truly it was.The problem is, there’s a …