Showing posts from December, 2017

The Lights of Hanukah Must Stay With Us!

There is a famous debate in the Talmud between Hillel and Shammai - how should we light the Hanukah candles for the 8 days of Hanukah?  Shammai said, on the first day, we should start with eight candles, and on each successive day, we should take away a candle.  His reasoning was solid - he brought up the fact that Hanukah and Sukkot are connected, and the sacrifices that were made in the Holy Temple diminish every day. Hillel responds with his approach - we start with one candle on the first night, and on the second night we add another candle, and so on.  On the eighth night, we have a total of nine candles (eight candles plus the Shamash); and his reasoning?  It wasn't a quote from the Bible, it was a statement, "we increase in holiness, and never diminish from it."  As we all know, Hillel won the argument, and on the eighth night of Hanukah, I found myself lighting a huge Hanukiah at Boca Center with eight other rabbis in the community from the Reform, Conservative,…

The Voice of Dinah© Parashat Vayishlach

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…