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The Voice of Dinah© Parashat Vayishlach

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The Voice of Dinah© - Parashat Vayishlach 2017/5778 Rabbi David Baum
I have to admit, I have a bit of a weakness for selfies with famous people – I call them – famous Jewish selfies – you can see them on my Facebook and Instagram feeds.Like my pictures a number of years ago with Brett Ratner, the famous Jewish movie producer and mogul; or my picture with the former comedian and Senator Al Franken.Well, what to do now?I didn’t take them down – I just added two letters – 'in' – as in, infamous Jewish selfies. Of course, as Jews, we are part of a larger culture, and this week, another famous person became infamous.We are a Today show household, so it was interesting to turn on the television this week and not see Matt Lauer, the latest in a series of celebrities, politicians, and other public figures accused of workplace sexual harassment and now, as now know, sexual violence against women.
And I thought about my infamous selfies.The question I asked is, should I erase them?And this …

Some Immediate Reflections On U.S. Change in Policy Toward Jerusalem

Some Immediate Reflections On U.S. Change in Policy Toward Jerusalem (This is a Facebook post I wrote just an hour after President Trump's speech on Jerusalem) I happened to have been at my home watching television during President Trump’s declaration with our pest control person who’s been with us for the last 8 years. We’ve talked about the best way to kill roaches and ants, our family lives, but never about geo-politics. As the news spread on television, he asked me, what are your thoughts on this statement? As a rabbi, I know I am not an expert in Middle East politics, but it dawned on me that to him, I am an expert, and if my pest guy is asking me, is America recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital a good thing or a bad thing, I imagine many others will. It was hard to explain to him how I feel in a short sentence, so I thought about it a great deal. First, emotionally, as a Jew who loves Israel, who has lived in Jerusalem for two years of my life, and who invokes Jerusalem i…

How Is Your Family? Speaking About Our Challenging Children©

How Is Your Family? Speaking About Our Challenging Children© Parashat Toledot – Rabbi David Baum
I want to ask you a question – how is your family? When people ask you, how is your family, how do you answer them?
Do we answer the question honestly? Like, for example, “well, my 30-year-old son is so reflective and driven – he's so reflective that he meditates on my couch all day while also intensely playing video games.” Or, “my daughter, she's so artistic and creative, in fact, she just got her 30th tattoo, this one on her neck and face!” Are we that honest? No, we aren't.
I want to talk about the son and daughter who don't hit the milestones that their peers hit – because they are different. Today, I want to talk about Eisav – the son or daughter whom we don't talk about when we are asked, how is your family?
But first, I wanted to take a detailed look at Eisav. Who was Eisav? The rabbis do not look kindly upon Eisav – he ranges from the hunter who is obsessed with …

The Give and Take of Halloween and Judaism© - Parashat Lech Lecha

The Give and Take of Halloween and Judaism© Parashat Lech Lecha 5778/2017 Rabbi David Baum
We do something called a Q & A with our religious school - Question Box - Questions that Siri and Alexa cannot answer.  Most of the time, the kids ask questions, but sometimes, the parents slip one in.  

I wanted to share one of those questions from a parent last week: Should Jews celebrate Halloween?
Now, what was the parent really asking…
What do you think?
I thought the following:
Rabbi, is it wrong if I send my child trick or treating? What message am I sending my children? Do we really have to be that different? Why can’t Jews just have some fun with everyone else? Rabbi, can I have permission to send my kids trick or treating?!?
First, I want to state the following- Halloween and whether Jews celebrate or not is not my main issue as a rabbi. My kids aren’t pestering us yet with asking to go - thankfully they don’t see pictures of their friends trick and treating which would make them jealous. …

The Dove and the Raven© - Shabbat Noach 5778/2017

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The Dove and The Raven© - Parashat Noach 5778/2017

Rabbi David Baum
A new flood is foretold by the world's weather specialists and they say that nothing can be done about it. In three days, the waters will wipe out the world.
The Dalai Lama appears on television and pleads with everybody to turn to Buddhism. That way, they will at least reach enlightenment.
The Pope goes on television and says that the world must accept Christianity in order to attain salvation.
The Chief Rabbi of Israel takes a slightly different approach: "We all have three days to learn how to live underwater."

There is a bit of a misconception when it came to how the world flooded in the Noah story.  The flood did not start with rain, rather, it started with the fountains of the great deep bursting apart, and the floodgates of the sky broke open (Genesis 7:11).  It was a reversing of the process of creation.  God removed the barriers and started over with chaos.  
I bring this up because it does seem like w…

Adam 1 and 2 and the Giving Tree© - Genesis

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Adam 1 and 2 and the Giving Tree© Rabbi David Baum

“Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy, and every day the boy would come, and he would gather her leaves, and make them into crowns and play king of the forest.  He would climb up her trunk And swing from her branches And when he was tired he would sleep in her shade.”
Who in here ever read your child or grandchild the Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein?I bring this up because I read a report on the news about the home of the author, Shel Silverstein.Although he passed in 1999 of a heart attack, he had a famous home in the Keys.I just heard that this historic home was destroyed during Hurricane Irma – and do you know how it was destroyed?A Banyan tree fell on it – yes, the tree finally got her revenge.
The home of the late Shel Silverstein, author and poet, is severely damaged Thursday, September 14, 2017 by a tree that was uprooted in Key West by Hurricane Irma. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
The Giving Tree is a seemingl…