Rav Shmuel’s Protocols Video


The man the myth the legend. Returns for Jewlicious 3.0, March 9-11, 2007

Building a World of Compassion

An elderly man is sitting in the hot sun by the door to his home. He gazes into the desert wilderness to see if anyone is passing by. Although suffering from a recent operation, he is compelled to follow his usual routine. For his home is a place of refuge and peace for travelers, wayfarers, and lost souls. Together with his wife, they create an oasis of compassion in a harsh world.

This is Abraham and Sarah, progenitors of the Jewish people. Through their lives and actions, we learn that receiving guests is a sacred act. Opening our homes expresses a great love for humanity. This love for humanity is sacred, akin to receiving the Divine Presence.

I have a friend who with his wife regularly hosts thirty to forty people for Shabbos meals. He started just hosting some friends once a month. They asked if they could bring some friends. Soon, he had to go out and buy dozens of folding chairs and folding tables. He moves the furniture out of his living room in order to accommodate all his guests. He buys food, seltzer, plates and cups by the case. Each meal people come who he has never met before. Very often they are new to the area with no place to go for Shabbos meals. But in his home, they feel like the most special guests.

Sometimes we think that to build a more compassionate world, we need an overhaul of government, politicians and cultural values. We see corruption, greed, and elitism. We see terrible inhumanity and suffering in our own communities. We see people who are lost, financially, spiritually, and emotionally.

Abraham and Sarah saw such a world that lacked compassion and Godliness. The most wealthy cities of their time, prohibited visitors, abused the poor and homeless. So they set about emulating the compassion that G-d showed them, by opening their home, their lives, and helping who ever they could. They built a world of compassion in their own home. They built a world of kindness and hope in a tent in the desert.

Imagine what we can do with our lives and modern homes? Imagine if we all open our doors, even just a bit more. Imagine if we open our hearts up just a bit more. Imagine if we open our wallets just a little bit more. Wow! Can you imagine the world of compassion that we can build? Each home can become a world of compassion, a sacred space, dedicated to a sacred mission.

A worthy Jew

Thoughts from Parsha Lech Lecha

This is My covenant, which you shall observe between Me and between you and between your seed after you, that every male among you be circumcised.Chapter 17:10 Genesis

Circumcision is the bais of future righteousness. Fortunate is Israel!  ZoharYou know there are things I do that I understand and then there are things that I do that I don’t understand. In the infinite complexity of life the mechanisms and chain reactions that lead me to walk and think, to be thirsty, to prefer roses that carnations. Why I enjoy the sunset or the fresh freeze.

Perhaps the thing that I have trouble understanding is the reason why so many Jews continue to circumcise their boys, even when they are ignorant of or ignore every other single mitzvah they can. They live a life totally rejected by tradition and Torah, and then their little boy is born, and CHOP! off comes the foreskin.

And especially since the bris is a “sign” of the covenant between God and the Jewish people, a completely spiritual act that can only be accomplished in a purely physical act, it would seem that natural thing to give up first! However, that is not how it happens.

The following powerful story appears in “Hassidic Tales of the Holocaust” by Yaffa Eliach:

One of the forced laborers in the camps related that one day he heard frightening cries of anguish the likes of which he had never heard before. Later he learned that on that very day a selection had been made — of infants to be sent to the ovens. We continued working, tears rolling down our faces, and suddenly I heard the voice of a Jewish woman: “Give me a knife.”

I thought she wanted to take her own life. I said to her, “Why are you hurrying so quickly to the world of truth…” All of a sudden the German soldier called out, “Dog, what did you say to the woman?”

“She requested a pocketknife and I explained to her that it was prohibited to commit suicide.”

The woman looked at the German with inflamed eyes, and stared spellbound at his coat pocket where she saw the shape of his pocketknife. “Give it to me,” she requested. She bent down and picked up a package of old rags. Hidden among them, on a pillow as white as snow, lay a tender infant. The woman took the pocketknife, pronounced the blessing — and circumcised the child. “Master of the Universe,” she cried, “You gave me a healthy child, I return him to You a worthy Jew.”

I just had the honor and privilege of being able to make a bris for our third son, Naftali. Every time the experience is moving and transformative in such a deep way that I have trouble speaking. I literally can barely get a word out. And for those who know, this is highly unusual. But at the bris of my sons, no word. Incomprehensible sense of joy. Overwhelming responsibility. Sadness —that my father OBM is not there. Feeling of great accomplishment, coupled with a sense of total humility. Deep, so deep. A sense of being humbled and awed by the power of creation, amazement at my own act in the continuation of this eternal covenant.

I could give a whole lecture—I have— on all the intricacies of all the symbols and meanings of the bris. It takes me an hour and a half just to get started. But ultimately, it is something that I find nearly impossible to explain, why it is so important to so man,y that they have risked their lives for this.

May God grant the Jewish people a quick and speedy redemption based on the merit of their faithful adherence to the Bris.


Lessons from Noah, that guy on the ship

Far from being detached, the root of any tree constantly provides nourishment for the tree as it grows far above. The constantly inform the tree and support it. When reading Noah this week, I was tapping into the ancient roots of our people, and found issues very much at the forefront of our consciousness: Global climate change, moral relativism, information security and identity theft, privacy, preservation of bio-diversity and the problem of communication, just to name a few.

Our actions and those of our country have far reaching effects on the world we live in. Noah’s generation saw that up close, as their drowned in a flood of their own making. Noah teaches the importance of preserving animals and other species before they are extinguished by our careless destruction of nature. Save the species, the bio-diversity. Noah didn’t just save animals that had a “use” but many species that humans have no use for.

Its not that Noah is a tree-hugging, granola chomping, vegi eating hippie. No, Noah ate meat, with God’s permission, he loved to drink and have a good time. He used the earth for his own pleasure and benefit. But Noah knew that life, nature, and the planet, are gifts that need stewardship, not exploitation and destruction.

Shabbat Shalom