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Nobody is inviting anybody for meals anymore. They figure that they are lonely, and if they were invited then they wouldn’t be lonely anymore. That would kill their identity to Judaism. Identity is the big focus now. Keeping Mitzvot is not important. We don't care if people are showing up to communal events right now. We need numbers. We just want people saying they're Jewish. The last town census showed a 20% loss in local Jewry. Martha and her family left. That brought down the numbers. We need more people checking the 'Jewish' box. Do what you want, be alone, say you're Jewish. So, the decision was made to not tarnish their reputation and identity with invites.
Rabbi had no Friday night dinner. Nobody invited him. Nobody knew he didn’t know how to cook. He talked about it a lot. It was painful. I think the rabbi took that into the sermon, when he called everybody a defector. Not having decent matzah balls on Friday night can do that to a good Jewish leader. I think him and his wife agreed that she can’t travel out of town without him anymore, unless if Shabbat dinner is made. His kids were starving and the shul had to start a ‘feed the rabbi’s kids more stuff with potatoes’ fund.
Rabbi is mad. He called everybody a Korach. I think it’s because nobody invited him for dinner.
No Kohen this week, again. The Gabai just yelled it out from the Bima, ‘Is there a Kohen here.’ Then, he looked around and remembered that he knows everybody. There were no guests. The Mindlowitzs were there. They still didn’t join. I don’t think they’ll ever pay dues. They come in once a month, so they don’t need to pay. It’s a good scam.
It was hard to be in shul this week. A lot of fights amongst the board. Nobody can decide if the Kiddish should be dairy, meat or pareve. So there was no Kiddish too. Everybody looks depressed.
The following week, we had half the turnout, due to no Kiddish.
Everybody is complaining about the shul this week. The chairs are tiny. They’re so small that some people even requested pews. For people to request pews, to have armrests eight feet apart, and wood, the chairs have got to be bad or too small. The seat padding on the pew in the chapel flies all over. It's only half a cushion. The shul chairs were put up in the ‘60s. People were smaller then.
People are huge now. Mark can’t sit without ripping his pockets. The armrest gets him every time. He sits and the pocket tears. He comes with new pants every week. He hasn’t figured out how to slide back into the seat with an inward pocket push. I do it with my dress. Ripped at least eight dresses last year. Sitting in a shul is a Psik Reisha (something forbidden on Shabbat because you will definitely violate a Shabbat law, passively, if you do it- such as cutting off a chicken's head, which kills it- sitting in a chair kills pants). You sit and you’re definitely going to do something forbidden, like ripping. It should be illegal on Shabbat.
People are very confrontational now. Pinchas is mad about the glare he gets with the Tachnun, every time he lays his head on his arm. I told him to cover the glare with his arm. He doesn’t get it. He’s bending in supplication. If the glare makes him feel closer to Gd, he shouldn’t be complaining about it.
At Kiddish last week, somebody took crackers with their hands. She got berated in front of everybody. This new shul situation, with this pandemic, has everybody on edge. Before this whole pandemic everybody was sneezing and shaking hands, coughing in the Tam Tams. All are blaming it on the rabbi. The rabbi is right. They’re a bunch of Korachs.
Rabbi Mendelchem’s Sermon
Shabbat Shalom My Congregants.
Anymore complaints? Please let them out now. The Gabai is in the back on the right. He’ll… I’ve been listening to complaints all week… I’m not a priest. I don’t have a complaint booth… Who here would be confessing? You would be coming to complain on the daily… The small seats in shul. The glare. Earlier babysitting... I'm sorry the sun rises on your side... You're the only one who comes with a three year old before 10:45...
Don’t be a Korach. You asked if there was a Kohen… Why didn’t you ask before?... You’re shy??? You yelled it out in the middle of shul ‘A Kohen here?’… That’s not shy… This isn’t a shteibel… We don’t turn people into Kohens… You walk over… Yes. You interrupt the davening. Nobody cares about the Chazan’s repetition anyways…
Asking if there is a Kohen? Are you trying to start an uprising?
(Bamidbar 16:1) Korach ‘took himself.’ Bad happens when you take yourself. It’s the selfishness… Sit two seats over and there's no issue with the armrest… You think it’s going to be better with pews? Frank will take up two pew… It’s meant for four. With Frank, we’ll get one and a half on it… Selfish. It’s going to be better with pews? It's a seat with no armrests, Bernie... You clamp the pockets, do the slideback, they don't rip on the armrest...
Rashi explains that he separated himself and the people. ‘To take’ means to separate. That was the sin… You take for you… You don’t think about anybody else… At the shul BBQ last year. How many hot dogs? You took twelve, Bernie… You separated the hot dogs for yourself... It's for you. You take matzah ball soup and you don’t share. You don’t do Mitzvot… You don’t invite the rabbi for dinner when his wife is out of town…
Don't get me started on your kids at Kiddish... How many Stella D'oro Swiss Fudges does Pinny need? He took the platter... Coughed on them...
Many start an uprising in the Parsha this week. They join Korach and ‘gather’ against Moshe and Aaron (16:3). How many of you joined Felvel in his march for bigger latkes? The breakaway Minyin for yam latkes... Yes. Seven months later, I am going off on this. Who else makes the latkes for latke night?... They gather, like this congregation, to complain… You complain about everything. The chairs. The length of the Aliyahs. The Kiddish food. The sales at Kroger’s… I have nothing to do with the coupon system…
They gather against… If you guys gathered for a Minyin in the middle of the week, that would be great. You gather to complain… If you gathered to feed the lonely. Maybe to let the Gabai know when a Kohen is visiting… He wouldn’t be screaming it out in the middle of shul. Causing a Kohen uprising… I’m not a Kohen. I’m a rabbi… You hired me!!! Firing would be an act against Gd at this point. Yes…
‘Kahal’ is the root word. The same root as congregation… The question is what are you gathering for? If it’s to open up your homes to give people a bit of matzah ball soup, when their spouse is out of town… A bunch of Korach followers... He's dead...
They rose up against Moshe... It was all against. It was selfish. They wanted to take for themselves… (Bamidbar 16:3) ‘Why do you raise yourself above this congregation?’ Moshe and Aaron were met with a struggle for those who wanted power. Next time, Moshe and Aaron will maybe think twice when H’ asks them to lead the Jewish people… Next time they want me to stay at Congregation Beis Emes uSefilah, I’ll be thinking twice.
I’ve heard you talking behind my back… My children roam the halls and they hear talking… Your children repeat… No. You hate Trump… Your five-year-old does not have an opinion… You hired me. That’s why I’m here. How many times… And you don’t invite for dinner… I don’t know how to cook… My wife was gone… The kids ate fish sticks for Shabbat. Not even gefilte… You were all too busy complaining to care about Mitzvot. You all just wanted to be noticed…
They rose up against Moshe. It was ‘men of name’ (Bamidbar 16:2). It was the leaders. The leaders always mess things up. The awning committee. You did nothing... It's still flapping...
What kind of leaders are you? Are you like Korach and his followers? Are you like the spies, ‘leaders’ of the tribes (13:2)? The spies were leaders and men of name too…
Do we want leaders or followers… We want people that will follow. You just all have to learn how to sing… We’re going to sing right now. I’m going to teach you a song. It goes, ‘And the whole’… Wait for me to start and then you repeat it…
Men who were chosen to be leaders of the people. That is who are complaining about their not being leaders… People always want more. It’s not enough that there are cushions on the seats. You want bigger seats… Then we are going to start a shul diet.
It’s when people have power, they want more. Men of name. Meaning, they were important people in the nation. They were the sons of Levi… Nobody cares about Benjamin’s children. The Pinkskowitz family is… Korach already had connection to the holy service. But it wasn’t enough. It’s never enough. They were not able to see Moshe and Aaron as the designated leaders… They weren’t talented.
The spies were people with names and leaders. We need people without names leading this shul. Mr. Cohen has a name... He's not a Kohen... You called him up as a Kohen.
We’re not changing the Gabai. We respect the leaders. We respect the Kohens of this shul… Are there any Kohens here?... Not one Kohen. And you all still rise up and complain.
Unlike Korach, in this congregation, we chose people for their post based on their place. Mrs. Frankel is in charge of keeping that section quiet… Because they talk there, and she is sitting there. If she were to have to keep the front right quiet, that would make too much of a raucous…
I understand that all of Levites think you’re hot stuff, leaving shul to wash the hands of the Kohens… There are no Kohens. You just get up and leave. You’re separating yourselves… It’s not even a Chag. Our tradition is to only wash hands on holidays. We all want to get out of listening to the cantor’s repetition. But we suffer through the ‘Yismichu BMalchutcha tune, again. For 20 years. Every Shabbat. We deal with it… Because we don’t separate… No Hymie. You have to get some melodies people like… Yes. We all want to cry. Tears of emotional connection to our departed. Not tears of pain of having to listen to…
Exactly. We have no new members, just as we have no new tunes. The new tunes stopped with the last new member. People stopped joining… We need new beats. Funk it up a little… Some Billy Joel…
Moshe tells Korach (16:9) ‘Is it not enough that H’ separated you… to do the work of the Tabernacle…’ Instead of attacking the leaders, lets see how we can do the work with them and help… Help the Gabai. He has no idea who the Kohens are. There was a Mr. Cohen Number Four. He got three Aliyahs this week… He has no idea. He just calls him up Kohen Ben Kohen… He’s the son of a Kohen.
To see the attacking of Aaron bothered Moshe even more. ‘What is Aaron that you complain about him?’ (Bamidbar 16:10). Is it that great? He has a role. Does the Gabai know what he’s doing?... You make it difficult with your names. Michale Ben Moshe Efraim… How many ancestors?
Korach takes. Takes for himself to start an uprising. If you’re going to gather. Gather for Kedusha, for holiness. Be inside so that we can have a Minyin… You gather outside for shots... Don’t start a rebellion and take away the members… I know you’re trying to start a breakaway. I am telling you to not gather, as Korach and his people, for Kavod. Honor doesn’t come when you have a Minyin in a basement for five years… It's not fun when you're eating breakfast and Simmy is knocking on your door to see if you need a tenth... It’s the service of H’…
Yes. Korach is killed with his followers. Maybe they’ll get injured on the steps of the house. I don’t think the breakaway shul has insurance…
It looks like the walking dead. This shul is depressing… Looking out at you is depressing… Who's not hear because of Kaddish?... Watch this. Sid. Come up here… Look at how depressing it is to see the congregation… People are breaking away from this… Are they getting a Minyin?
What are you following in? What are you leading in? Are you doing it for the people? To take… You’re like Korach. You want more Aliyahs for yourself…
There is no answer for Moshe when he asks what Aaron did to protest against him (Bamdibar 16:11). It’s hard to justify selfish. It’s hard to justify not inviting the rabbi for Friday night dinner when his wife is out of town… They had no answer because they wanted nothing. They just wanted what he had. The Kehuna. No reason. Wanted to sit in a pew... Everything was a pew back then...
Share. I went to youth groups today. The kids don’t share. The kids don't share their Pokémon cards… Even their football figures... They're takers. They take. Is that what you teach... One cried, and then they took the tea cup from the other kids... It wasn't even a real tea cup. It was a plastic tea cup that looked real... Maybe it should've been real. Everything about it was real, but it was part of a kitchen set... The kitchen set was a toy. So, it was a toy...
Datan and Aviram continued the poor perspective of the spies. Instead of joining Moshe and Aaron, and the people, (16:13) they justify with ‘you take us from a land flowing with milk and honey, to die in the desert, and you seek to dominate us…’ They create a new story. They take the story of going to Israel and liken Egypt to what Israel is promised to be. The same way you likened a dairy Kiddish to a meat Kiddish. The same way you likened what a kosher restaurant is supposed to be… You have no seats. It’s not a restaurant… A takeout is not a restaurant. It’s a way to tell people they’re not invited. ‘Take out.’ Might as well have a sign, ‘Don’t eat here’... It's a takeout... A dairy choolante is not a choolante...
No more new stories. No more making up stories to justify how much you complain… So much lying in this congregation… Yes. Politics. Shul politics… You're running for shul board. Don't call her an anti-Semite... Her running against you doesn't make her an anti-Semite... Yes. Even if it helps your campaign...
They were already the Shabbat Abba. They had to be the Shabbat Ima too... Not everybody can be a Shabbat Abba. Not everybody can be a Kohen.,,, Yes. Mr. Cohen's cousin is a Kohen. He doesn't complain...
Fake drinking... Yes. They made the sip noise... Maybe it should've been real. The kitchen set was a toy. So, it was a toy... They were already the Shabbat Abba. They had to be the Shabbat Ima too... Not everybody can be a Shabbat Abba. Not everybody can be a Kohen.,,, Yes. Mr. Cohen's cousin is a Kohen. He doesn't complain...
Be a follower. But don't follow Ezra and his wanting huge seats disguised as pews.
Rivka’s Notes on Rabbi Mendelchem’s Drasha
This was the longest sermon Rabbi Mendelchem ever gave, and he's given hour long speeches before. People are going to invite him for Shabbat dinner.
Billy Joel was the rabbi’s suggestion for a new beat? This is why Jewish tunes are forty years behind.
The Chazan came the next week with a new song. The rabbi hated it, but word got out that there was a new tune and people started joining the congregation.
The shul became a center of Jewish growth and weight loss. Singing lessons were mandatory. The rabbi didn’t get past the first verse. He realized that the harmony was just people singing off tune.
It seemed as though the rabbi was mocking Korach his whole sermon. Anything bad was ‘Korach.’ Korach got blamed for the nursery school charging too much. Even ‘Mommy and Me’ was blamed on Korach. The sisterhood was called Korachs for not bringing out the brownies on time, at Kiddish. Don’t ask about Ms. Feinblum who took the Kiddish food before the rabbi said to. Korach would take before others. The baseball team was all called Korachs. They lost this season. The whole board? Korach.
The Gabai couldn’t find a Kohen. He called out in the middle of shul to see if there was a Kohen. That's when the rebellion fiasco took place. He had nobody to call up for the Aliyah, so he called up a Yisrael in place of a Kohen. The rabbi called him a Korach.
The Gabai has been scared to call up people to the Torah for months. He only calls up people after rabbinic approval. The rabbi charges $150 a month for Hashgacha. It's a decent price for his kosher certificate. He made a deal with the Gabai, that he only has to pay $125 a month for the rabbinic approval on the Aliyahs.
The Gabai looks for the rabbi’s OK before any Aliyah. Based on the message from Shelach and how the rabbi giving an OK is not his consent, the Gabai is in a hard place right now. No. He doesn’t get paid. It’s a volunteer position. And he has to read the whole Parsha every week, as well.
The Gabai has no idea what to do. Only longtime members have been called. No guests are called up. Everybody is offended.
The rabbi is right. I walked to the front of the women’s section and looked out. Looking out at the congregation, it does look like the living dead. If the rabbi has to see that everybody Shabbat, I can understand. You look out and you want to say Kaddish.
Most of the members started coming once they started saying Kaddish. That’s what they’re thinking about in shul all the time. They come to shul and think about the empty seat next to them. We're having a hard time renting out the shul Simcha Celebration Hall.
Now the rabbi is teaching people how to sing, lose weight and to be happy about the loss of loved ones. He thinks that will bring more members. We aren't getting rid of Kaddish. It was discussed, but that will lead to the end of the Minyin.
The idea of a cooking competition was brought up, to see who had the choicest dish. But people didn’t want to risk the ground opening, to swallow up Mrs. Schwartz’s babka. Nobody likes her babka, and it wouldn’t have been chosen.
The rabbi had his wife cook for him, so he was able to keep his job. Her apple kugel was chosen by the board, and thus the rabbi proved again why he was the rabbi. He was allowed to keep his job.
The kids are all fighting in their desire to lead. First it was the Shabbat Abba and Ima. Now they're fighting to open up the ark for Anim Zmirot. Pinny walked out with a black eye, after he made it to the curtain puller real fast. Tuvy attacked him. Tuvy wanted to be the opener, not the closer. There's a lot of politics with the ark opening. Don't get me started with who gets to stand next to the flag for Hatikva, at the end of services.
A lot of fighting and crying. Somebody's got to step into this. I think the parents are scared of the violence. They're modern parents and whatever their kids do is right. I saw a parent walking with a limp, because their daughter wanted Honey Nut Cheerios.
hey need an organizer. It used to be one kid who got to open up the Ahron (ark). A sibling might be allowed to spot. Now, because no kid has been told 'no' in fifteen years, a lot of violence.
Calling them future leaders put a lot of responsibility on the nursery school kids.
A lot of politics in youth groups. Hair pulling. They all had their own stories. A bunch of lying five-year-olds. A lot of taking and no sharing of Legos.
Complaining was not allowed this week. It was decided that complaining was selfish and done to separate. Not to bring together. Everything had to be said positively. People were keeping it positive. People were coming to the rabbi saying, ‘This shul is so great. We should get new seats and a new rabbi.’
At one point, the rabbi let Bernie give a speech. The rabbi went down from his seat and sat in a regular chair. His suit pocket ripped. The shul got pews.
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Wearing Israeli flags. Showing their support for Israel at the rally in DC. It would’ve been smarter if they brought coats. Based on experience, flags don’t work as good windbreakers.