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The other shul is poaching our members. For their minyin, they come to ours and take people for their services. I think they view us as a farm shul for theirs. We get them to start coming to Minyin. Help them learn the prayers and then they take them.
Our shul only has an early Minyin on Shabbat. I think we’re losing members, as nobody wants to add two hours to Shabbat. One of our members suggested we end Shabbat early, as the Saturday night shows begin before Shabbat is out. The argument was that just as we start Shabbat early because it's nicer for the family to eat together before 10pm, it's nicer to show up to the performance on time.
The rabbi had to explain that Shabbat was a specific day of the week, not dependent on our needs. He ended up showing Blazing Saddles to the congregation, so that all would understand what ending Shabbat on Saturday night meant. Many congregants are still ending Shabbat on Friday evening, when they went to the clubs.
Summer vacation was taken by the rabbi, but he came back to give a sermon about how families should act on summer vacation. I believe that he had some issues with his children.
Giving for others was another topic of the week. Our congregation has to be more giving. There’s been no money handed out. Russian families have joined the community recently. They’ve been living in the community, but everybody forgot about them since the late 1980s, when they moved to the community and we threw them on the other side of town.
Our previous rabbi was for their living on the other side of town. As he said, ‘If they live with our community, they will definitely not want to be Jewish.’ He didn’t want them ending up longing for Russia, because of the members of our shul. We miss Rabbi Kuplowitz. He would’ve been our rabbi emeritus, but he said he wanted nothing to do with this shul.
We do have a nice Tehillim group. That is giving. People saying prayers for others to be healthy is beautiful. As long as it’s not money, people give. If it’s something that nobody needs, our congregation will give it to them. A table with three legs that's sitting there; they’ll go out of their way to take it off their curb and drop it in somebody’s home. And they will also pray for you. I think we all need that. I know our shul needs that. Nobody in our shul understands the prayers. It's best somebody does their praying for them. And it feels good to have people praying for you.
Rabbi Mendelchem’s Drasha
Shabbat Shalom My Congregants,
(Bamidbar 31:1-2) Moshe is told to lead the war against Midian, and H’ tells him, ‘Afterwards you will be gathered to your people’… That means death, Bernie... I know you're old. When somebody dies, we gather them… Not like a crop. Crops are not people.
He is told about his death and yet, he goes to war right away. The next Psukim speak of Moshe getting the people together to go to war… It is about duty. What is our duty? Max, Hymie, Bernie, Sam. You’re all in your nineties. The least you can do is come to Minyin on time. You said you would… You're not being asked to go to war... Well, it's not stopping you from gorging at Seudah Shelishit...
A man’s word is his word… (Bamidbar 30:3) ‘A man who makes a vow… to prohibit something on himself, shall not desecrate his word. All that comes out of his mouth, he shall do.’ You said you would come to Minyin... Yes. You say a lot of stuff that is wrong and makes no sense… That’s why you don’t haze yourself and say you’ve got to run into the store, yell, bang a table and run out… It’s dumb. But it’s your word… The Hebrew school head lies all the time. That’s his word… Yes. That’s why he has to stick with it. All that he says, he must do. He says he has to mess up our children. So, he does it…
If she swears, the husband can take it back for her… Same with the dad… People say stupid stuff. They make oaths. If nobody is around for her, she can’t take it back… If they don't know, how do they... The laws are in the beginning of the Parsha… No. If you’re in a fight and she says she hates you, she means it. I don’t know if you can take that back for her…
Parshat Masai begins with the travels of the Jews in the desert. Everywhere they complained… They should add Topeka to the Jewish journeys. You guys complain all the time.
Summer trips to the mountains with family. It’s a journey. You complain… Yes. It feels like a desert. The Mountains is a desert with trees and rain…
You swear you don’t want to be with the kids… You swear at them… You swear you’ll never do another vacation… Wife swears she is slaving. She says she’ll never do it again… I took that oath back for her. I told her that the kids will be out of the house soon and she’ll want to vacation again…
This week is a double Torah portion. And as thus I feel it is my duty to speak extra long. That was the plan. However, being that it was a double portion and the Bal Koreh (Torah reader) read the Torah double slow. I will have to speed it up. You have my word…. Next time, please read faster. Some of our members have to make it to their golf games… You are killing me. I have a sermon prepared and now I cannot give it the way I wanted. Next time speed it up a little. It is Hebrew. They don’t understand it anyways…
That guy that corrects you is crazy. He is just angry at his wife. He is the only one who pays attention… He’s screaming at you because something happened in the house. I think they just went on vacation. That is why… I will speak faster…
In the beginning of this week's Torah portion, it clearly states, 'Whatever came out of his mouth- he shall do' (Bamidbar 30:3).
How many of you are men or women of your word? You talk a lot… I know I say that a lot. I can never mention that enough… Most of you don’t think about the consequences before you talk. How many of you made a New Year’s resolution last year?... And you still ate chocolate. I saw you eating some chocolate glazing. Double Dutching. Oh, a girls scout cookie you call it. Does that make it OK? You said you were going to stop eating chocolate. What were you thinking when you made that resolution? You wanted to take off weight… That is ok. Why not resolute to be in shape. We shall not desecrate our words and we must stop eating chocolate… Double Dutch. That's twice the amount of chocolate. Chocolate double. How they chocolate in the Netherlands... It will never happen. Never resolute to get thin... I’ve seen you all try. You are just lying. You are lying to H’. We're a heavy people.… Jenny Craig is a sinner…
It's hard to stick to our words. Part of repentance according to the Rambam is saying, ‘I will never do it again.’ After you confess your sin to Gd, you are supposed to say, ‘I will never do it again'… Yes, You have to lie to H’.
Who resolutes to not do something enjoyable again? I understand you don't understand Hebrew, and you enjoy that hitting the chest to the 'Ashamnu Bagadnu' tune. It's catchy. But are you a man of your word? I have not done this part of repentance, because I am not good at lying. If eating chocolate was tasty, I know I am going to do it again. Speaking of which, where was the chocolate crumb cake at kiddush last week?... No. There was kichel again. Are the sisterhood women of their word?
Did the dairy Kiddush take place? No. Because nobody picked up the cheesecake. You promised and I was looking forward to my Mother’s Black Forest Cheesecake, with chocolate chips on top and crumby stuff on the bottom. But no. You brought in a homemade cream cheese battered tiny cake with no chocolate chips; not even strawberries. Your commitment to your word was not there. Is it a cheesecake with no topping? Where were you for us, when we needed the chocolate chips, Mrs. Hortman? Were you eating them?... For Mother's sake... Not my mom. Mother's...
Think before you make promises Mrs. Hortman.
As, we learn from the Torah and all action movies, your word is your bond… I know you said, 'My dad said we are going on vacation to Disney World this year...I hate him'… Yes, your daughter hates you, because you made a promise you cannot keep… We are not blaming Mr. Kinsley for this. You didn't foresee the economic crisis. Your wife also didn't see the problems with the breakdown of the family structure in your home... Why we don’t make promises... You shouldn’t have planned that wedding. We all said it was a mistake... Shotgun style... Otherwise, you make promises, vows and six months later you already hate them...
That is a beautiful new dress Mrs. Kinsley… She is looking… The point is that they don't sell Mickey Mouse's fur in Disney World. And Christina, you should hate your dad for not being a man of his word…
Who can afford Disney World anyways? $50 to see Mickey Mouse. Watch it on TV Christina… You haven’t even paid your dues. How are you going to afford the ears… Yes. You can wear that as Kippah. You can Mickey Mouse in shul.
Commenting on a spouse’s ability to erase his wife's oath, The Sforno (a rabbi for you Am Aratzim that don't know this) comments that, 'To remain silent when somebody has the ability to protest, is akin to agreement. To remain silent is to agree with what they are doing.' I’ve seen you watching the news… You have never screamed at the screen… You yell at the screen. They’re coming up with stuff about Israel…You tell people off… This congregation knows I disagree with them… I don't agree with everything you do... I am saying that to help you all. Just in case you thought the ark cover looks nice.
I for one will not remain silent and passively agree. You promised Christina Disney World, you give it to her. As your rabbi, I resolute, that there will not be another dairy kiddush in this synagogue without Mother's Black Forest Cheesecake. And I resolute again, if you have people that have to get to golf and not one of them understands Hebrew, you read the Torah faster… No. You do a family journey to Disney World. And you complain there...
Now I must stop, because we are out of time… I am going on, because I resoluted to give Sermons… Till I die. I am going to give you the rebuke you need… Because you say messed up stuff…
When she says she's starting a diet. Any resolution she makes. Just say, 'It's not going to happen.' You know she's going to eat the chocolate. It's Double Dutch.
I’m committed like Moshe. Moshe was committed. Right after he’s told to go to war and he will die, we see the nation going out to war. We’re a people of duty. A people of our word.
Moshe didn’t correct H’, nor did Moshe delay in his reaction… Nothing like the shul president… He reacted much quicker than the Torah Reader reenacted, in his slow motion play by play of the Parsha. But he did not react with words to Gd. He reacted by leading the people, with action. He didn't react slowly. It is getting late, and you have your golf to attend to. As your leader, I notice that. I have a lot more brilliant Divrei Torah on the subject of oaths and vows, but it will have to wait till next year… That's not an oath. I may be on vacation next year, away from my family...
Mr. Weil promised he would stop cursing. But did that piece of ----- stop? No. The importance of our words. Our vows. Our word is our bond. Our commitment… And you don’t have to say it. Just do it… Moshe didn't have to say he was going to follow Gd's word. He did it... Then don't say you agree with me. Just do it. Bring the decent cheesecake. Take your daughter on vacation. Show up and say ‘shalom’… It might be a little weird at first to have random friends popping up at your door in the middle of the night… You get used to it…
And don’t remain silent. Moshe told the people they’re going to battle. It didn’t just happen. The sisterhood thinks cheesecake just pops up at kiddish… Silence is agreement. The dad and husband have to take back her word for her… Why I go to protests… Our Moshe should go to protests to meet girls… You’ve got to get married young man… I understand that everybody is trying to set you up. That’s why you should be protesting… Meet women… Protests are the perfect spot... Who cares about the cause. If they think you're passionate...
Let me make it clear, I do not agree with you people. I am just trying to keep my job… I know I don’t have forever.
The husband and dad take her oath back on the day. Something negative can only be taken back at a certain point. Otherwise, it’s a mistake. It’s something wrong...
Should’ve taken back the vacation to the Mountains… What was the early Shabbat Minyin decision? Can’t take it back now… They’re kids. We don’t need them for Friday night Minyin.
Men can’t take back their word… How many times have you donated to shul and taken it back?... You flipped the appeal card…
Don’t say stupid stuff. That’s the lesson. Don’t say stupid stuff and do what is right for the people.
(Bamidbar 31:2) ‘Vengeance.’ Again. We see that it is OK to take vengeance for our nation. Gd commanded it, as it rids the evil from the world... I would've venged on many members...
Who is killed in Moshe’s last war? (Bamidbar 31:8) Bilam. The one who tried to curse the Jews. Used his mouth for bad. He’s killed… Am I cursing you? No. But you deserve it… Because you all lie.
In your last days, what do you do? Moshe fulfilled a commandment, a mitzvah of H’s knowing he will day, as Rashi says (31:2) ‘with Simcha.’ He did it with happiness… Are you going to at least be happy? Are you going to live upto your word? Are you going to pay your dues and donate your appeal? If you don’t, I swear… Are you going to use your words to curse? What are you saying...
You're going to live your last days wondering if somebody took your seat in shul... That's your Simcha. Making people feel uncomfortable. Telling them they can't sit in shul...
No. We are not going to do a Siyum. Everything is a finishing party with you guys. We finished the Sefer. We say Chazak Chazak and that's... No. We don't need to celebrate with a... We didn't accomplish enough. You get a Yasherkoyach. No Siyum party. We'll have a kiddish after davening.
Rivkas’s Notes on Rabbi Mendelchem’s Sermon
Next year, the rabbi should give out Tehillim appeal cards. No money, just prayers for others. I think the congregants might do that. If they could say the prayers while watching TV, they would do that.
The rabbi swore at the Bal Koreh, Torah reader, but he didn’t make a vow. I think he supports people playing golf on Shabbat, which is forbidden, more than the guy reading from the Torah. Due to the time, he spoke real quick. The rabbi cannot say less, ever.
The rabbi forbade vacations. He said that 'for the sake of Shalom Bayit, peace in the house, vacations are not allowed.' Vacation fighting continues into the house. I know this, because we're hearing about it in shul too. I think he just didn't want to have to do another summer trip with his kids complaining.
When the rabbi said he felt like Moshe, I think he was referring to his children saying they were thirsty.
The rabbi made everybody write down resolutions that they were not going to do. He said that making resolutions was forbidden, as nobody in the congregation keeps their word. He also said that people can’t make plans in the congregation, as they never kept them and that was lying. After nobody showed up to Minyin, he took that back. He still said that they couldn’t plan a board meeting. That got him out of having to hear from the board for a month.
Due to the worry of people not keeping their word, there were twelve weddings celebrated in unison on Tu BAv. This way all these engagements had no chance of dissipating.
The rabbi ended up allowing people to do Teshuva as well, even if the Rambam was making them lie.
To ensure people were keeping oaths they might have made, the rabbi employed the angry husband who corrects the Torah reader all the time. The rabbi had him following people around and correcting them whenever they didn’t keep their word. Angry guy was hanging out at the kosher supermarket, in the pastry section.
Nobody could go into the grocery without angry guy yelling at them. He was very threatening. The average shul member lost twelve pounds. After that whole experience, they were finally able to understand why the Torah reader said ‘I am sorry’ in the middle of layning (Torah reading), even though Gd didn’t write it in the Torah.
The only thing people were allowed to eat that was enjoyable was Mother's Cheesecake. I think they stopped making it though. Haven't seen it in years. Yet, the rabbi is still stuck on it. I think he saw it at Kiddish recently because it was in the freezer for a few years.
The rabbi encouraging Moshe to go to protests led to our congregation supporting the 'Get the Jews out of Israel' movement. When the congregants heard you could meet people at protests, they thought the rally with the speech of 'we hate Jews' was the perfect place to go to for social interaction. Thank Gd, at least it got some of our congregants out of the bars for a couple of days.
The rabbi's point about the husband not able to take back the wife's words of 'You are the worst husband' was well received by the women. Finally something the feminists could get behind.
Early Shabbat is killing us, but it was a decision. The rabbi called it a Bilam move, as it's a curse. It's almost as bad as the guests feeling uncomfortable sitting in shul. They're worried they're sitting in somebody's seat. Every time a guest a comes, somebody comes over to them and tells them, 'Don't sit there,' then walks away. The guest is dumbfounded with no idea what to do.
The seats in shul fiasco is getting very uncomfortable for everybody. Guests are constantly told to not sit, due to every seat belonging to Sim. It at least appears that way. Gursts are left without seats. There are thirty regulars and 400 seats, yet the guests are always kicked out of a seat.
The guys at shul want credit for everything. I'm with the rabbi. It's not a huge deal to finish Bamidbar. We don't need to have a Siyum. They should feel good with Chazak Chazak vNitChazek.
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We don’t play Connect Four. We play Four in One Line. In Israel, we explain the games. Otherwise, I'm trying to figure out how these things connect. They're supposed to connect in a line. And I know that now...
And there is a sale on it too?! Fun doesn't get better.