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Committees met. A lot of committees met. The shul is now working on a new ‘committees’ concept. The board feels that more people need to be involved in meetings. Otherwise, things will get done. When things get done, we end up with a communal quilt for the ark cover.
The board wants less accomplished, so they are forming more committees. This way they can get more people involved in arguing. It helps with the new concept of people feeling like they have a stake in the shul. The rabbi was fielding most of the anger till the committees began.
Why do we need a committee to visit the sick? I believe that is a good question. As the rabbi said, this way we’ll know why it’s not getting done.
My argument is that it’s a Mitzvah and we should do it due to the basic commandment of ‘following in H’s ways.’ The other congregants on the committee didn’t agree. They believe that Avraham was sitting outside the tent to get a tan. He wanted some sun, and then Gd sends angels and has him worrying about Sarah giving birth. This has led to nobody delivering soup to the sick, due to fear of bothering the sick.
Matzah ball soup has been in the shul freezer for three months. Nobody is delivering it.
Politics is still big in our town. The local government hates Jews. They made that clear a few weeks back when they said ‘we hate Jews.’ Mrs. Milt is now bringing in anti-Semites from other communities, as our town doesn’t house enough Jew haters. She considers the lack of Jew hatred racism. And she vows to fight that.
Mrs. Milt said it’s OK for the non-town members to be at the town meeting, as they are activists and they hate Jews. She is a big supporter of activism. She doesn’t support ‘Jews for getting rid of Mrs. Milt’ though. That’s where her activism stops. As she said, ‘It has to be against Jews for it to be considered activism. If it's against Israel, it is pro minorities.’ She also made it clear that there are no minorities in Israel. Only majorities.
Our friend, Tony, started a town jogging group. Mrs. Milt doesn’t support that. Mrs. Milt insisted that they run with picketing signs.
Tu BAv Shabbat is this week. The Jewish holiday of love and marriage is upon us. There’s no love. We need more singles in the community. We’re thinking of getting Mrs. Milt to bus in singles. She knows how to bring in the activists. Maybe some of them have very strong feelings about getting married.
Rachel is still single. At least we have one single person in the community to talk about. Otherwise, this holiday would’ve been a letdown. She needs a committee.
We have an important Yahrzeit this week of a Tzadik in our community who passed. The community usually mourns this week by having a dinner with whitefish and tuna salad. Mourning should always be done with stuff that tastes good on bagels.
Rabbi Mendelchem’s Sermon
Shalom To all of the heretics... We welcome all. Like at the seder...
In this week's Parsha, Moshe continues to tell the people how much they messed up his life. What I could have been if I wasn't a rabbi, listening to you all nag and complain all the time about the rabbi's wages… It’s the same way our people complained in the dessert. But do I complain? No… I would’ve never complained about Moshe’s tent… Even if it was nice, Bernie.
Moshe continues to tell his story. He’s about to die, so the people finally listen. This is the first time they’re not complaining... If they thought he wasn't going to die, they would've complained about water again. Do you know what I go through with the board?!... We ran out of soda at Kiddish. So drink water. There's no drought here. We have a fountain... Ice again?!
At this point, Moshe tells them about how he prayed to Hashem. He prayed to enter the Land of Israel. He tells the Jewish people that he prayed… Because they messed it up for him. Do you know how many vacations you messed up for me? I was supposed to be in Israel this summer. You didn't let me see it... I am not praising the board. H' already allows me to go to Israel... How does the board override H'? It's wrong...
The prayer didn't fully work. Moshe doesn’t get to go to Israel. He wants to go Jerusalem, the good mountain (Devarim 3:25, Rashi). I wanted to go to Haifa and the Golan too. The board killed that vacation. Moshe can’t go, but he gets to see it… As we know, praying doesn't always get you what you want. Our children's basketball team lost again… How much praying can we do for Pinny to hit a foul shot?
Shimon wanted to go to Israel again… It’s his Yahrzeit. Can we talk about him? He prayed. You prayed…
Shimon would've love to visit Israel too. But he is no longer with us... You can let your rabbi go... He passed. It's his Yahrzeit A few minutes about a Tzadik... Can we talk about him? Can you stop complaining about Kiddish for a bit?... He didn't talk during prayers. You guys prayed for him... What kind of Tehillim were you saying?... Do better next time… Do a better job. You don't focus. I've seen your Amidah. You've got to focus more in prayer... So that people can live... You pray wrong.
Moshe describes his prayer with the word ואתחנן/VaEtchanan (Devarim 3:23). I don’t know what that means. Rashi explains that ואתחנן is a form of prayer in which we ask for Gd to be compassionate… We need a lot of compassion if these committees are going to work out. Do you have any compassion for the sick… You don’t deliver the chicken soup. At least send a matzah ball. The shul chef thought it was stock… There were Matzah Balls in the Kugel. Nobody makes Matzah Ball Kugel.
Moshe is a Tzaddik… A righteous person. A standard that the members of the committees don’t live up to… Yes. Every member of the shul has been placed on a committee. But you know who was a Tzaddik? Our great community leader, Shimon, who passed away. Always gave us whitefish. He knew that whitefish was better than tuna for everything, other than a tuna melt…
Moshe doesn't bring the people to Hashem over here… How much does a leader have to carry a people… No. I am not speaking out against Moshe. I am not an activist. I am bringing up the fact that Moshe asks for compassion from H.’ If he brings the people, H’ sees them, we don’t know if there will be compassion…
In defense for his prayer, he goes at it alone. The same way our children didn't play defense against Saint Catherine's… If I were to have to carry you in my requests all the time... I do. That's why I never get a decent answer. Moshe knows that he's still the leader and the people are holding him back. Like the way Shana held me back the other day when I was trying to get home from dinner.
]Moshe asks for a gift. That's his prayer. Rashi (Devarim 3:23) says that VaEtchanan, the word used for prayer, comes from the word ‘chanun,’ and that is the language of a ‘free gift.’ Moshe is asking for a free gift. A gift in which he wasn't deserving… He was a Tzadik and he is begging H’ to have compassion to give him a gift. You don’t deserve the Care Bear. You lost the ring toss at the Chanukah carnival last year. Get over it... And you lost at Simon Says too… We don’t deserve anything. It’s a gift from Gd… No. You pay dues. Gd gives you the money to pay your dues... We're not entitled. He is teaching us that we have to pray for our gifts... Of life, Bernie... It comes from Gd's kindness. The home, job, kids... So you lose sleep and your savings...
Rachel is single. We have to pray for her. She needs a gift from Gd if she is going to meet somebody… It’s Tu BAv. This is her chance… She needs Gd's help. It’s Tu BAv. This is her chance… We are going to say Tehillim right now... For Rachel
When we get something from H’. Just the ability to pray. It is a free gift. A gift from Gd. Rachel hasn’t met anybody, so she has not received a gift.
This is why we mess up prayer. Complaining. You all expect... You expect that the committees will do something...
The Jews were always complaining in the desert. Entitlement was their issue. Kind of like every child in this congregation that doesn’t say ‘Thank you’ when you hold a door for them. You are entitled to nothing, but you still complain. You do not ask for gifts, because that is beneath each and every one of you. Instead, you demand. You have to much pride... How you can be prideful when your lawn looks like...
You deserve a free membership? Well apparently you think so Dr. Fishbaum. You haven't paid your dues yet... Yeah it is painful- but we pay dues.
What else do you all in this congregation think you deserve? A faster davening. Moshe prayed. He didn't do it fast. He also didn't have a chazan that likes to sing the same tune, over and over again... Yes, it sounds the same. Spice it up a little. Maybe a bit faster. Maybe H' won't fall asleep too.
Yet, you all pray with a sense of entitlement, for your big house and big car, and then you lose it to the bank. But you don't pray to the bank. Do you? Do you? Do you!!!!
You pray for the meaninglessness of a house, when you are living in a desert. And you pray for it all in America. We are a Jewish congregation and you all pray for your promised land in America... This is not a Mormon congregation. And they do correctly pray for their promised land; which is why they also beat our children in basketball.
Moshe prays for entrance into the Land of Israel... Maybe he had it wrong. Maybe he should have been praying for entrance into America; like most of our Jewish brethren, as America has a better retirement plan… That seems to be what you all pray for. And Marshall's has better deals... You can't find a decent clearance section in Israel... You pray for the wrong things.
Moshe just wanted to see Israel (Devarim 3:25). And we can’t even make a shul trip happen… You would rather go to Marshall's.
Moshe prayed for something meaningful. And how many of you have been to Israel? How many of you care to go? How many of your children think it is their Birthright? Birthright? It is your privilege.... Your children go. They pay nothing and then say it is too hot and you didn't give them enough money for alcohol. Josh didn't bring you back Ahava lotion. Dr. Fishbaum, he spent your dues on alcohol. But he was drinking with Jews. Beautiful...
Moshe didn't expect it. He prayed to enter the land... And he didn't even think about what bars he was going to hit, Mitch. And maybe that is why he had the most successful congregational trip to Israel of all time... He didn't make it, but his congregants went.
Dvarim rabba- teaches that at a time of pain, is when we pray for the free gift from Gd. The gift in which we understand we are not deserving.
May we be fortunate enough to feel that pain, so that we can appreciate what we receive from H.' I feel that pain every day I have to see the people at the Minyin. It’s painful to see their depressing faces. It’s the worst way to welcome in the morning. And every day, I pray for the gift of a happier crowd at Minyin… Smile. I know it’s six thirty in the morning. But smile, Bernie.
And may our children not be an embarrassment. May we pray, and realize we are not deserving. And may the children practice a bit, so we can win a game.
On this here day, following Tu BAv, may we all pray for all the desperate single souls in this congregation for each and every one of them to find their spouse, so that we may procreate the Jewish people, and that they may be useful members of the community... They are not deserving. They know it. Single people should be praying well.
All the single people please stand up. Rachel. Stand up… She’s single. You can all see them in the back of the room, as they are too embarrassed to be seen. Feygel, please help set them up at kiddush.
May we bow our heads in prayer. 'Oh H'. May these undeserving souls; as they have not deserved anybody yet. Please find a special somebody, to help them have some sort of meaning in their life. Give them something to make their lives not totally meaningless. May they also be able to smile one day, like me and my wife. Look at her. She is so amazing. And they have nothing. May they have a home, in which to yell and get out their anger too. A home in which they care enough, unlike the other members of this congregation, to go to Israel, as Moshe. To let their rabbi go to Israel.' Amen. And now, may all the single people please remain standing, as we are going to match you up... Rachel, remain standing... Anybody have a white dress for her...
Moshe just wants to see Israel. Why? He wants to make sure all will be good. He wants to see a positive future that he affected… We want to see Rachel get married already.
Shabbat Nachamu is this Shabbat... Does VaEtchanan not sound like Nechama? It all comes together to me comfort. We need Nechama. We need something decent to happen this week in this congregation.
We messed it up for Moshe. H’ was angry with Moshe because of us (Devarim 3:26)… Yes. You mess things up for your leaders. I should be on vacation now… It’s the summer, Bernie.
We don’t always get what we want. Moshe understands he is not entitled when H’ tells him to stop asking. But he gets to see it. There is a Nechama knowing things will be decent in the future. I don’t see that with our youth. Pinny is our best player and he can’t hit a shot...
He doesn’t cross the Jordan. H’s compassion only goes so far for Moshe. But He tells Moshe to give Joshua strength and resolve, ‘for he is to cross before the nation and cause them to inherit the land’ (Devarim 3:28). I am here to give you all strength now, knowing that you are deserving of nothing. It is all H’s gift. Compassion. Understand that and you shall be strong my pupils. We are praying for a decent future. I just want to see it good for the next guy that will have to deal with you... There is no hope for me. You've been painful.
Instead of going to Israel, Moshe is told to strengthen Yehoshua. The same way I try to strengthen the Gabai... I put him on a decent training program but he never hits the gym. His hagba is horrendous...
And what is Moshe’s first move? To talk about Mitzvot. Keeping the commandments… The strength of Yehoshua is the Jews keeping the Mitzvot… I feel weak right now. This shul keeps none of the Mitzvot. Simmy sins... if you said Tehillim better, the gabai would be able to carry a Torah...
Strength on the congregants. A leader gets his power from the congregants. Don't blame me for the messed up shul BBQ... I told them 'hamburgers'...
As Perek Daled starts (Devarim 4:1) ‘Now Israel hear the decrees and laws that I teach you today to do’… Yes. You have to do them… I know it’s a nice thing… I don’t teach the Mitzvah class so that Yanky can space out. Or so that Rivka can think about how hard they are to keep… ‘in order that you shall live, and come and inherit the Land...’ That says it all.
How do you keep the Mitzvot? (Devarim 4:2) ‘Don’t add a to the word that I command you, nor shall you subtract.’ You don’t have committee meetings about Torah. You don’t get to make up Jewish laws based on if it’s too hot outside… You added that strawberry to the chocolate and peanut butter cake... You killed it. There was peanut butter. It was perfect...
No. We are breaking up the Halacha committee… Bernie and Sadie should not be deciding what Mitzvot we keep as a congregation… We are going to continue with Rosh Hashana this year... I know the two days is a lot, and the cooking is hard. But it's rewarding. That's how we celebrate... No. We're not going to have a countdown and a party. We celebrate with asking for compassion. A free gift.
I am asking for everybody’s compassion here. A simple gift of prayer… Prayer that is not as painful as listening to our Chazan.
When a community does their best, does the Mitzvot, they can follow in H’s ways, and the sick people can merit to see their Matzah Ball soup.
Rachel. There’s a simple commandment to have kids… I am just saying. Somebody should have compassion for Rachel. Find her a Shidduch. Maybe pray for her... A free gift for her. A guy finally paying for her drink for once. My wife never has to pay...
As Shabbat Nachamu is upon us, somebody should have compassion for Rachel. Find her a Shidduch. She needs help. Pray for her soul. May there be Nechama and may we merit a shul trip to Israel soon.
May Rachel have Nechama knowing that the other kids in the congregation are all dating. They have a chance to get married soon. She should merit to be there at the wedding to see it. And to see how nice it is when my wife and me are together... She wants to go to Israel too.
Rivka’s Notes on Rabbi Mendelchem’s Drasha
The ice complaint was valid. The sodas are never cold enough. And if we had ice, all would be so much happier. The Kiddish committee should be on that. Crushed ice. Is anything better in a drink than crushed ice?
The rabbi wants everybody to see Israel. One of our rich congregants asked him and the rabbi explained that flying to Saudi Arabia does not count. He wants us to see it and travel there.
He blamed us for him not being able to visit Israel last summer, though it was only one person who complained about a drought. They wanted crushed ice in their cola. You can't blame them. The rabbi didn't have to hit the cup out of her hand.
He was really going at the congregation this week. He did hurt Chaim's feelings a bit, when he brought up losing Simon Says. Chaim took that real hard.
The rabbi used the double questioning technique a bunch this week. It's a great technique where he gets louder with each question. It really gets people listening. The more frightened they get, the more they listen.
We sung, ‘Nachamu Nachamu Ami.’ Nobody understood what it meant, but it was meaningful. Everybody's eyes were closed. You could see they all connected. I think it's the lack of understanding the words that makes it more meaningful.
We’re now praying that H’ has compassion on his people in Topeka and let’s us live without Mrs. Milt.
She is calling her hatred of Jews, 'activism.' The shul committees are still trying to figure out if activism justifies anti-Semitism and racism. One of our members decided to be an activist for open land. He’s been walking on people’s property and randomly entering people’s homes. He’s the only Jew that Mrs. Milt supports. She says that it is his duty, as an activist for non-ownership, to do whatever he would like, and to walk into anybody’s home he would like.
He was caught walking into the home of somebody that is not Jewish. Mrs. Milt called that trespassing and had him locked up for being Jewish.
I joined the Matzah Ball Soup committee. Yes. It needed a committee. Otherwise, there would’ve been no argument over whether the pre-made Manischewitz balls were the best or not. It’s the only committee that you can depend on in the shul. Other committees don’t always have arguments.
The committees were empowered by the idea that Yehoshua needed the people the practice the Torah in order to have the support for his strength. They used it against the rabbi. They stopped showing up to the weekly Bingo game, and the rabbi felt helpless running Bingo himself. He had to sell the cards and call at the same time. In the end, the rabbi told them they don't have to come to Minyin, as long as they help out at Bingo.
Rachel felt that message, as it was focused on her. She is feeling really down now, as the rabbi and his wife (the rebbetzin) have it so good.
The idea that the people who didn’t listen to H’ were destroyed, had people thinking that they should do Mitzvot. Even so, most of the people didn't listen to the sermon.
Anyhow, we formed a Rachel committee. The committee is focused on finding a special someone for Rachel. Pure focus. This will also only allow each community member one idea a week for Rachel. She insists that she can't hear more than eight ideas a week for men that live more than a fifteen hundred miles away.
There is still a lot of entitlement at the shul. Everybody thinks they deserve meat in their choolante. There’s never enough meat in there. And nobody shows up early enough to shul to pray for it.
All came away from the sermon feeling spiritually uplifted. The rabbi let all know that they're not deserving of anything, like Moshe who prays to H' for a 'free gift', and the congregation felt great (especially Rachel who is single and needs to meet somebody this Tu BAv).
As nobody deserved meat, the rabbi decdied the shul was going to start serving a pareve (meatless) choolante at Kiddish.
The rabbi had to explain the concept of prayer being a free gift. It took a while for people to understand that if you pay for it, it's not a gift. Costco's new ad about the gift of saving money and paying less for shoes and mixed nuts, had them confused.
The Tehillim for Rachel and her singleness was a beautiful idea. The rabbi was going to let her lead, but he didn’t want to embarrass her.
Entitlement is bad. Everybody took the Tehillim for Refuah comment seriously. They stopped saying Tehillim for the soldiers and only for sick people. And they wanted to get paid to say the prayers for people.
People are still not praying. They want to get paid to show up to Minyin. This entitlement thing is an epidemic. I think they just don’t want another shul trip to Israel. The last trip was a disaster. Bernie got stuck in the Golan.
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What do you call a bird with good Hebrew grammar? A dikduck.
You get it? Dikduk means grammar in Hebrew. Substituting 'duk' with 'duck.' Brilliant. And the animals are laughing too.
The reason we moved to Israel. Kosher Burger King. Menu on the wall... As David shared upon his Aliyah arrival, 'The burgers are kosher. We've been redeemed.' Then, he ate and expressed his amazement at how they already knew what he wanted, like a miracle, as the burger was ready before he ordered.