My sacred task as rabbi is to ignite the God-given hidden spark within each person, and connect this light to others through building spiritual community. The tool of ignition, inspiration, and agitation is our Torah, 70 Faces and all, and my task is make Torah come alive (through diverse venues) in the present so it will live in the future. I seek to be a madrich/guide and leader who can help others traverse through the windy pathways of life.
to share a story with you all, honestly, it's kind of personal, and
it's not one of my finest moments. I received an email from my
brother, an article quoting him in the Sun Sentinel. My brother, a
congregant here at CSK, has been the Director of Testing for Broward
County Schools, an important but behind the scenes kind of job. It
was the first time he had ever been quoted in the paper.
all of this, and I heard my yetzer harah speaking to me, “how many
articles in this paper have I been quoted in? Where was that praise
from my family then?” That yetzer harah actually has a name –
interesting, but at that moment, I became competitive with my
brother, whom I consider my best friend.
I'm not alone. We all have our stories of sibling rivalries, in
fact, it's timeless. We see a great example of this in our parashah
And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian
woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
2. They said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has He not
spoken through us as well?” The Lord heard it. 3 Now Moses was a
very humble man, more so than any other man on earth.
here something interesting: that yetzer harah creeps up on them.
Here we see two different issues that their siblings have problems
and his choice of spouse
fact that Moses literally talks FOR God.
issues seem to be unrelated, and you wonder, what's going on here?!?
Now, think back to your own attacks against a sibling, a relative or
close friend. Sometimes, you will begin your attack with something
that might be scandalous, but it's not really what you most resent.
I think this might be the case here.
order to fully understand their resentment, we have to look at what
just transpired in the previous chapter:
people start complaining, which is a theme of BaMidbar/Numbers, and
Moshe cannot take it anymore. He tells God, “14 I cannot carry all
this people by myself, for it is too much for me. 15 If You
would deal thus with me, kill me rather, I beg You, and let me see no
more of my wretchedness!””
has Moshe gather 70 elders who will help him lead.
will come down and speak with you there, and I will draw upon the
spirit that is on you and put it upon them; they shall share the
burden of the people with you, and you shall not bear it alone.
Moshe does as he is commanded:
the Lord came down in a cloud and spoke to him; He drew upon the
spirit that was on him and put it upon the seventy elders. And when
the spirit rested upon them, they spoke in ecstasy, but did not
26 Two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad, had
remained in camp; yet the spirit rested upon them—they were among
those recorded, but they had not gone out to the Tent—and they
spoke in ecstasy in the camp. 27 A youth ran out and told Moses,
saying, “Eldad and Medad are acting the prophet in the camp!”28
And Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ attendant from his youth, spoke up
and said, “My lord Moses, restrain them!” 29 But Moses said
to him, “Are you wrought up on my account? Would that all the
Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord put His spirit upon
translates Joshua's words in a very interesting way.
אֲדֹנִי מֹשֶׁה כְּלָאֵם -
in the Etz Chaim Chumash, it is translated as 'restrain them', but
Ramban, Nachmonides, uses the Talmud's translation - “keep the Holy
Spirit away from them!” Moshe's answer is even more powerful with
to read verse 29 in Hebrew:
Attah Li? הַמְקַנֵּא
אַתָּה לִי Are you jealous for
answer is beautiful! Would it be all that everyone could have God's
spirit in them! I don't want to hoard God's spirit, I want to share
it! Don't be jealous, celebrate it!
highlights one of Moshe's great qualities here. He writes, “Moshe,
in his great humility, gave this response.
we return to the attack from Moses's brother and sister - what is the
response to this attack? Actually, Moses doesn't say anything, but
the text does state this:
Hebrew, the term for humble is Anavut, and Moshe was an 'Anav'.
Now Moses was a very humble man, more so than any other man on earth.
wasn't that Moshe was just humble, not even very humble, but the most
humble person on the face of the earth.
reminds of a story that Rabbi Jack Riemer told me, when two rabbis
were arguing over who was most humble. One rabbi said, I have more
humility in my pinky finger than you have in your entire body!
interesting here is that no other leader in the Torah is called
humble, and Moshe had so many other qualities, but this is what is
Moshe, the man who stands up to Pharaoh, who breaks the Ten
Commandments, who is continually the intermediary between God and the
people, called humble?
look at the way Moses began his career as leader of Israel, we see
that he was in fact, very humble. In Chapter 3 of Exodus, Moses
declines leadership several times to God. Think about this – God
thought he was a capable leader, but he didn't, what other vote of
confidence does one need?
the word we translate as humility, doesn't mean that we only look at
ourselves as dust and ashes; that we are insignificant. Rather,
anavut can help us understand that despite the fact that we are dust
and ashes, we have been given tremendous gifts by our Creator in the
form of our talents and the light we show to the world. An Anav
knows that these gifts were given for the betterment and honor of
Zoma, in Pirkei Avot, states,
wise? One who learns from every person.
strong? One who overpowers his inclinations, yetzer.
rich? One who is happy with his portion.
honorable? One who honors his fellows.
the ultimate definition of the Anav – someone who knows that wisdom
is not found within, but from others, and therefore, we must seek
others out to become better. Who is strong? Someone who can
overcome the yetzer – especially jealousy. Who is rich? Well,
once you can overcome jealousy, then you can be happy with your share
and realize the gifts you've received. And finally, who is
honorable? One who bestows honor on others.
believe Anavut, humility, is the antidote to the yetzer harah of
has something to be jealous of, but is this how we want to live our
lives? Rather, let's be humble enough to learn from every person,
because let's face it, we don't know it all. Let's be humble enough
to realize that we've got something special when we have it. Let's
be humble enough to realize that the way to honor is to honor others
and be happy with them.
be humble enough to say, “Would that all the Lord’s people were
prophets, that the Lord put His spirit upon them!”
next week, I want you to do one thing: when you see a relative or
friend, especially a person who doesn't receive it much, receive
praise, fight the yeterz harah in you, and be happy for them.
Realize that God has gifts God bestows on us all.
let's take it a step further: instead of praising yourself this week,
praise someone else, especially someone who never does any bragging,
who may not think that they are important, but what they do changes
Pre-Passover Weekly Message - 2017/5777 I hope everyone's Pesach preparations are going well. Every year, we busy ourselves with kashering our kitchens, cleaning our homes from top to bottom, buying the appropriate kosher for passover foods (which often means wading through crowded aisles at kosher grocery stores), and of course, cooking if you are hosting a seder. Unfortunately, we must not only physically prepare for Passover, but spiritually prepare. In my weekly message, I have provided resources for both your physical and spiritual preparations for Pesach. 1. Passover Guide from the Rabbinical Assembly 2. Some divrei torah/sermons I have delivered/written over the past couple of weeks about the holiday of Passover and related themes. 3. Resources to spice up your Passover Seders 4. Face to face learning on Sunday and Monday. On Shabbat morning (tomorrow), join us for Shabbat HaGadol as we honor our graduating seniors and welcome a guest speaker (speaking after services),…
The Answer To Rising Waters Is Right In Front Of UsB’Shalach/Tu Bish'vat 5777/2017Rabbi David Baum, Congregation Shaarei Kodesh A couple of years ago, during Parashat Noach, I gave a sermon that dealt with the issue of climate change and the role that we as humans have played in our changing environment. What was interesting was who was listening. In the congregation, there were a number of Canadian Jews. I’ll never forget the feedback I received from them in particular. “Rabbi, a good sermon, really, BUT…let me ask you something - you had a multi-national Jewish audience here listening to your sermon - why didn’t you speak about something that affects us all?!? I looked at him in a sort of disbelief. At first, I could not understand what he was talking about - isn’t a message about climate change davka something that affects us all?!? But then I realized what he was talking about - he didn’t think it was a particularly Jewish message. I am not for myself, who will be for me? As Je…