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Rosh Hashana preparation is going on. The Steinmans are sinning. They don’t feel they have enough to repent for this year. They've been wreaking havoc all over town. They even pulled a knife on the minimart guy and told him they hadn't done enough this year. They even said 'thank you for making this a meaningful High Holidays for us.'
Everybody is worried about the pandemic. So, we closed down the shul. Now that people had no idea where to daven, we opened up another shul.
Even with the separation, the rabbi pulled everybody together for the speech. He claimed that speeches don't spread pandemics, just prayers.
Kids are all back from camp. They’re running around the shul, scuffing up the floors, and missing their camp friends. That will end by next week, when they realize their camp friends don’t care.
The rabbi is doing his best to bring the whole community together. He feels that the Jewish community as a whole can use more Achdut, oneness. The rabbi said, ‘We are one community and that means that we should all be together even if we daven, pray, at different shuls.’ The rabbi received tons of mail telling him he should get out of the community. Most of the mail insisted that the rabbi wants people to die. To quote, ‘How can you want people to be together? Do you not care about people?’ The other rabbis of the community accused Rabbi Mendelchem of pouching their members. Another congregant said the rabbi doesn’t know what he’s talking about. She insisted that separation has kept us one community throughout the ages.
The rabbi took a lot of backlash for not understanding that keeping people apart is the best thing for our people.
In castigating the rabbi, they all mentioned what is known as ‘these time.’ They are saying that the rabbi should know how important the pandemic is to our people, and that he should not be bringing anybody together.
Rabbi Mendelchem’s Sermon
A Guten Shabbat
Everybody standing here today… It’s Parshat Nitzavim… You stand.
You are part of the community… Today!!! Stand. Everybody stand… Bernie is still sitting… I know you’re 92. Did the 90-year-olds not stand, when Moshe said ‘all of you standing here today’? You think they were sitting, saying ‘I have a bad back’?... Maybe they were dead. Good point… The Levites didn’t die… If they weren’t killed beforehand, they were standing…
As long as you are standing, you don’t have to separate. It’s safe…
In this week's Parsha H' calls us together in order that we be a nation to Him…
How are we to become a nation?... No. To Him. To be a nation not to Gd... To be a nation not to Gd, you can sit. You guys sit all the time in shul...
A nation to Him?
Everybody. The people of Israel, who left Egypt, saw the miracles of H'… Now, those who were born in the desert come together… They stand. All of them. The Jewish people. (Devarim 29:9-10) 'You are standing today, all of you, before H’… The heads of the tribes, the elders, the police, the children, the women, the converts, from the wood cutter to the water drawer'… Everybody stands before H’… Not just the Chazin. You fall asleep in the services and... His tunes are not good. i know. But, you have to also do your part. Stand... You stand for the Amidah... When we do an action, we do it as one... Minyin. You don't show for Minyin... Of course, the water drawers. You don’t see water drawers because you don’t invite them into the community. They’re a people too…
‘Standing Today.’ The only requirement is we stand before H' together… Stand... No. Together. Put your arms around each other… Let’s sing 'Bilvavi' for a second… Feel the sway. You build a Temple in your heart. Exactly… No excuses… Now they’re leaving shul… I said nothing about the pandemic… The CDC said we can’t sway???
Everybody, Even the annoying people. And we all know how annoying the woodcutters can be… We have to accept them…
We cannot leave Mr. Kirshnowitz out of shul activities. He gets in everybody's way. Brings up very offensive conversation. Yes he is annoying, but we still have to invite him to our children's bar and bat mitzvahs. He's part of the community, even though he is very irritating. The Fleishblooms too… Even with their dog that licks everybody… And Max with his harmony… No. We have to accept him… Yes. He’s loud. But we have to accept his annoyance to our prayers and how he throws off all the songs… It's not Lashon Hara. Everybody knows it and he's right here. Mr. Kirshnowitz would say exactly what I'm telling him. He's annoying and he... You don't tell people they are not looking healthy, because they are overweight. You don't equate that with why nobody likes them... It's offensive...
That is what community is about, the annoying people... How much life do they bring? A lot.
The annoying people in our congregation allow us the chance to complain. Which is why we joined this congregation. It's the annoying people that make us a nation… They give us something to do at Kiddish… An ‘Am Kshei Oreph.’ And how annoying are the stiff-necked people?! So thank you Mr. Kirshnowitz for being an annoyance.
We are all standing… Got to stand… Stand already… Another second of swaying… OK. We can go on.
We cannot do it alone. I know that the Gabai doesn't want helpers, but you have to work together with the congregation. It must be done together, unless you are Jammy… We are very proud of you for winning the game the other day and making the right decision. You should never pass the ball to your teammates. Passing the ball to your teammates is what loses games… The Gabai needs help... You don't even know Max's Hebrew name. You have to look on a card... He's been a member for 80 years. Mr. Kirshnowitz, please tell him how bad he is at Gabaiing... Soon, people are going to have to call themselves up to the Torah. That's how bad...
We become a nation to H'. Not just the people that are there that day, but all the people. Now. Then. We are a nation... If you stand, we're a nation... You're sitting.
Together, as the nation is the people that even weren't around then. All of this, in order that we will be a nation to H.' Not a nation to futz around in the shul library… It’s a Beis Medrish. Stop calling it a library. You're futzing… A Beis Medrish. A House of Torah Study with picture books about Israel. Exactly… You can learn Gemara or trace pictures of Tel Aviv. It's all Torah… We have to include everybody. Even the heretics that think Israel’s capital is Tel Aviv… No. We are not getting chairs. ‘Stand Before H.”’ Only standing in the Beis Medrish… That’s why everybody stands at Kiddish. You eat choolante before H'...
As taught by my Abba, Shlita… Can't quote my dad? You get mad at me when I quote Artscroll. I'm going to quote my dad... So, he doesn't have an acronym. He's still an important rabbi... He taught, even water drawers… The word 'Nitzavim' is used for standing before H'. It is the same root word used in VaYetze, where it speaks of Yaakov's ladder, 'Mitzuv artza,' standing in the ground- as we must be rooted in the ground, if we are to reach Heaven… Can you stand with your feet in the air?... Exactly. You need to be rooted. Like a water drawer… They're not rooted in the water... You have to be rooted in this world, in order to be a nation. You have to be connected. A nation connected with H'... I know it's a nice lesson. Thank you. You can come up with acronym for him... This is why we are not for the Jewish children living in Nachlaot... They have to get jobs… Does it say ‘and those who don’t draw water’? It says ‘from water drawers to woodcutters’… Yes. It’s a job. $1,000 a tree in my front yard. It’s a job… Well. I'm paying.
A nation together, with goals. Goals together…
(Devarim 29:11) ‘To pass in the Brit (Covenant) of H’ your Gd and His curses that H’ your Gd seals with you today’… We have to stand together to pass in the Brit… It’s today. It’s always today. We have to be ready for the covenant… The goal is the Brit... It's active. That's why you stand... If we don’t accept the Brit, it kills the curses…
Yes. The curses are good. Ever got a good curse… A British extended ‘you’ makes an excellent curse. Like with the witches… The Torah was not talking about the British. H’ was not being derogatory against the commonwealth when He said ‘Brit’… I know you don't like British people, Bernie... He was talking about the covenant… With the Jews. Not the British. The British people are not part of the covenant. They’re not good woodcutters…
She can’t give a curse, because it sounds too nice. Americans don’t have good cursing ability… You’ve got to get passion in there. Moshe expressed the curses with passion… Because he led you people. I understand him… A good curse means He cares… Mr. Kirshnowitz. Can you please show us how to curse somebody... See, Bernie. That's how you do it...
You stand the kids there. They’ve got to do the stuff too… The kids have to do something… You’re the youth director. Do you daven with them?... Have them play a game. Something... No. Your kids are messed up. You're messing them up...
Today. We can’t wait. Do something already… Rosh Hashana is coming up this week… That’s today. We’re going to be standing before H,’ together. Just don’t kill it for us, like the woodcutters… Repent now, as one... Standing is necessary for repentance. It's painful enough to be considered atonement. Standing and spending twelve hours in shul.
We’re going to be inviting everybody on Yom Kippur at Kol Nidrei… And we have to stand then too… Yes. The annoying people. Even the ones that don’t share the armrest… And yes. The water drawers are a very important part of our community. You wouldn’t know, because you don’t invite them… There are people drawing water all the time…
We stand together. Even with Bernie… Yes. He’s a non-believer… Well, you don’t believe in me, Bernie.
Every day we have to stand before Gd like we are receiving the Torah, together… Even more so on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur... You don't want to end up in hell... The board voted. This Rosh Hashana, everybody is going to be standing alone. Very far apart. Standing away from other Jews… It is against the shul’s policy to stand together to pray. We're going to have a Minyin apart... For the speeches, we can stand together. You usually don’t like what I say, Kim. It’s like a protest…
Rivka’s Notes on Rabbi Mendelchem’s Sermon
There are a lot of British people in our congregation.
People standing for the rabbi’s sermon really helped. Not one person fell asleep. For the first time, all were listening.
Now the rabbi is making people use an acronym when they call him.
The rabbi's talk about unity got people real mad. Many didn't want to come back to shul. They insisted that unity is the worst thing for our people.
The rabbi seemed to have made up pandemic rules. I think he said that you can’t catch COVID if you’re standing. He said that he didn’t come up with that rule and it was one of the CDC guidelines.
The rabbi brought up the protests as proof that you can’t catch a virus while standing. With all the standing, I have a feeling there was a pandemic going on in the desert. That's why Moshe told them to stand. Maybe it was a protest, and protests don't transfer diseases when people are standing.
The crazy thing is that once he said 'the CDC,' everybody believed him and went along with it. He started using the CDC to get people to keep Mitzvot. He said that the CDC said you have to keep Shabbis and not talk Lashon Hara, because of the pandemic. He even brought up the state's DOH to tell people they can't drive on Shabbis.
After Rosh Hashana, we stopped following the restrictions. Everybody in the community hated the restrictions and the rabbi’s speeches are too long to stand for.
The rabbi really cares about the water drawers. I think he knows that people don’t draw water anymore and that the faucets work. He just likes the idea of not having to deal with congregants.
Mr. Kirshnowitz was empowered by the rabbi's speech. He told Sadie she is too old to enjoy a Chag. He said that holidays can only be enjoyed by people who are not 90 years old.
The rabbi had a High Holidays Repentance Seminar on how to treat people. He brought in Mr. Kirshnowitz and told everybody, 'This is the perfect example. Don't be like Mr. Kirshnowitz.' Mr. Kirshnowitz was extremely honored.
With the singing, the rabbi really had the people feeling it. I could tell, because their eyes were closed. Some of them closed their eyes because they didn't want the virus getting in them. They didn't have eye masks on.
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The Falafel of Etan
Israelis are very possessive of their falafel. Even when they have a shop, they don't like to share it… That's Etan. Standing over them while they eat. Making sure they don't run away with his falafel.