,

Why Doesn’t God Pay for Lunch?

God could fund everything, but we wouldn’t value it

As we learn from the Torah when the Jewish people jointly funded the building and running of the Mishkan/Tabernacle, keeping Jewish organizations, programs and institutions running is in our hands.God created that world this way.

Yes, it would be easier if all we had to do was tell God that we are starting a school, Yeshiva, Synagogue, or summer camp, and then we just wait for God to fill the bank account with the money that we need. But that is just not how God created the world.

Rather God entrusted all of us with the sacred task of supporting, funding, and building the centers of Jewish life and learning throughout the ages.

One of the main reasons, teach the sages, is that when we contribute to the creation of something, we value it more. When we are given something for free, we don’t value it as much. Another reason is that when the Jewish people collectively work together for the creation of something, it creates achdut-unity. Lastly, it gives each person the opportunity to become a giver, a donor.

What is so great about becoming a giver? More than you can imagine. For example: You feel good about yourself for helping others; you are recognized for generosity, not wealth; yo

u are more protected from financial harm; and it creates an everlasting legacy in this world and the World to Come.

As we have printed our our donor cards at Pico Shul and quote from the poem by M. Josephson:

How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought but what you built; not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success but your significance.

,

How to Use Summer for Spiritual Growth

There is spiritual growth that can only be accomplished in the summertime

From the moment that Passover started, the Omer clock started, the countdown started to Shavuot. That period of self-reflection and character improvement has now passed. The full moon of Sivan is already here. Are we supposed to be doing anything “special” in spiritual matters now, or do we just chill out?

There is nothing to chill about.

Like a farmer ensuring that their crops are nourished, weeded, and protected, summer is the perfect time to nourish and protect our spiritual lives.

  • Take a trip into nature to deepen your Yirat Shamayim, our awe/fear of God, by studying the wonders of God’s incredible creation.
  • Grow your own food to develop gratitude and patience.
  • Exercise to fulfill the obligation of guarding our health and create joyful endorphins.
  • Longer days means we can dedicate more time for Torah study.
  • And longer days means no conflict between your work obligations and Shabbat starting.

And I am sure you can come up with some more ways — I would love to hear them!

roger waters
, ,

Wish You Weren’t Here Roger Waters

Boycott of Waters Launched With Petition, Website and Film

A group calling itself “We Don’t Need no Roger Waters” are calling for a boycott of musician Roger Waters. The Change.org petition wants a worldwide boycott of Waters until he renounces antisemitism and the unjust boycott of the State of Israel. The group has launched a website and Facebook page, and will be releasing a movie this summer.

The former frontman for Pink Floyd has increasingly used his rock-star status to defame and call for the boycott of Israel. He infamously flew a pig drone painted with swastikas and Stars of David at his concerts in 2013. Waters screens anti-Israel film clips during his live shows and viciously attacks any artist that chooses to perform in Israel.

Waters isn’t just anti-Israel, say his detractors, he’s actually a Jew-hater. They are firing back against his supporters by countering that Waters is not just anti-Israel, but actually a racist who espouses bigotry and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.

According to the filmmakers, “Wish You Weren’t Here is a shocking, explosive and compelling film by award winning filmmaker/No.1 NY Times bestselling author Ian Halperin.” The film sets out to answer such questions as is Roger Waters an anti-Semite?

Halperin, who is the son of a Holocaust survivor, traveled for two years researching his story, and the film includes interviews with leading figures such as including Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder, Pope Francis, Haras Rafiq, Palestinian and Israeli leaders, U.S., British and French government officials, The Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, Alan Dershowitz and Dr. Charles Small.

Instead of using music to build bridges and foster peace, it seems that Waters is actually another brick in the wall.

, ,

4 Ways to Make Purim Great Again and Help the World

make purim great again hatAre you stuck in the Purim Party rut?

Do you go to few Purim parties and then pay for it the next day with a horrific hangover? If this is the case your Purim needs an extreme makeover, because there is more to Purim that meets the bottle. If you are suffering from over-doing-it from too much Purim Partying, you actually miss out on the seriously great parts of Purim.
You see, Purim’s combination of customs and mitzvot make it totally unique in the Jewish year. No holiday has Purim’s power to unite Jews from all backgrounds and generate spiritual growth. If you want to make your Purim Great Again, if you want your Purim to be “off-the-charts”— then use these four steps to make your Purim truly memorable, enjoyable and rewarding.
There are four mitzvot for Purim – and each one is a step up a ladder of spiritual/material interaction and revelation of the Divine.

Step One: Listen To The Megillah aka Kriyat Megillah To relive the miraculous events of Purim we listen to the reading of the Megillah, the Scroll of Esther, on Purim evening, and again during the day. Try to hear every single word of the Megillah – so make sure to turn off your cell phone! 🙂 When Haman’s name is mentioned make lots of noise and stamp your feet to “eradicate” Haman’s evil name. According to Kabbalah this noise has profound impact. It’s not just kid’s shtick. Click here for Pico Shul’s Purim Schedule.

Step Two: Give money to the Needy aka Matanot La’evyonim Concern for the needy is a year-round responsibility. However, on Purim it is a special mitzvah to remember the poor. Give charity to at least two, but preferably more, needy individuals on Purim day. The mitzvah is best fulfilled by giving directly to the needy. If you cannot find poor people, you can donate online and I will hand out tzedakah to poor Jews for you on Purim Day. All of it goes to Tzedakah – we do not take any cut. How much? A lot. Seriously consider giving 10% of your monthly profits to help poor members of our community. You will feel very good and do a lot of good in the world. As with the other mitzvot of Purim, even small children should fulfill this mitzvah.

Step Three: Send Food Gift-Baskets to Friends aka Mishloach Manot On Purim we emphasize the importance of Jewish unity and friendship by sending food gifts to friends and family. On Purim day, deliver at least two gift-baskets of ready-to-eat foods (e.g., pastry, fruit, beverage), to at least one friend on Purim day. The more you deliver – the better! Don’t have time to pack your own? There are many stores that sell read-made baskets and only need to add your card! Children, in addition to sending their own gifts of food to their friends, make enthusiastic messengers. We travel around by minivan and the kids run up to houses and deliver the baskets.

Step Four:  Eat, Drink and be Merry aka Purim Seudah Purim is celebrated with a special festive meal on Purim Day, where family and friends gather together to rejoice in the Purim spirit. This feast should be over-the-top with courses, variety and duration. Join us at Pico Shul for our Purim Feast! It is a mitzvah to drink wine or other inebriating drinks at this meal – and that is where the tradition to drink on Purim originates.

Now that you have your blueprint, you can start filling in the details:

  1. Organize where you will be to hear the Megillah
  2. Get cash ready for poor and/or make online donations to worthwhile organizations helping the poor on Purim Day
  3. Shop for gifts for your friends and family.
  4. Reserve a spot for Purim meal, or make your own.

If you follow this four step Purim regimen, you will elevate your life, and the lives of many people around and the world. Have a safe, inspiring and delicious Purim!