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Shul’s annual meeting was this week. The shul was looking for a Pinchas. A leader. The rabbi wanted to stab somebody.
We started the Three Weeks of mourning, between the two fasts, when all the bad stuff happened to the Jewish people throughout history. The rabbi blamed it on the fact that there is no Pinchas in the congregation.
Yid Zayin Tamuz was uneventful. I thought something would happen on the fast day, but it was just a fast. No buildings were destroyed this year, and there was no graffiti on the shul.
Nothing bad happened to the Jews in Topeka, other than the town council hating the Jews and the shul board. Nonetheless, the rabbi blamed the destruction of the Temples and the exile on us. Once, somebody did write ‘Jew’ on our shul. We didn’t know if that was anti-Semitism, or somebody letting us know that Jews go to synagogue.
There’s a Pinny in our shul. The rabbi said that doesn’t count for a Pinchas, as he took off half his name and never stabbed anybody.
Mendy has a lot of Yahrzeits this week. That means he’s leading the davening (prayers), all week. That also means they are going to be long. In preparation for this, most of the members of the shul skip Minyin. They didn’t get the 10 number the first day, so there were no services. After that people started showing up and tagging out half way in. There was an understanding that it was too painful to be there for all of Mendy’s davening.
The Yahrzeit is a big day. We commemorate the ones we lost. Our shul takes it very seriously. For the rabbi, it’s an extra day of mourning. He mourns yearly on the days of those who have passed, as he is in such sorrow about the children that they left him with.
Rabbi Mendelchem’s Drasha
Shabbat Shalom My Congregants,
We had a hard time getting a Minyin for Mendy this week. I am not suggesting to stab anybody that’s not on the board. Though, people have been showing up late to shul… Somebody should take initiative and… At least let people know that what they’re doing is wrong. You all just stand there and let people… The guy stands at the Bima (the Tefillah stage). Walks to the front of the shul and stands there. Sneezes on it… He’s not leading services. He stands in the Chazin’s spot… No. He’s not even a member… Because nobody talks to him… There is not one Pinchas in this shul.
We got one Kaddish guy totally out of control… It’s a group thing, Henry. You follow the leader… People are leading their own Kaddishes… He's two beats behind... Where’s the Gabai… We need a leader. We need a Pinchas to do avenge for us.
Pinchas stepped in and took control. There were rules that had to be followed and he followed them… And if you don’t follow rules… Yes. Somebody has to do something for H’…
We need rules. Procedures to follow. What happens when somebody hangs something on the bulletin board?... I see signs for haircut deals. Is the shul opening a barber shop in the social hall?... They engrave names into the back of the head. It’s called Clippers Hair Engraving. What frum Jew is going to this barber for the engrave your name under the Kippah style?... You put the name on the Kippah. That's what they did in the ‘80s… You can’t see it under the Yarmulke… Then they should be wearing one. Where is Pinchas when you need him… Pinny’s not a Pinchas. He shortened his name... He engraved 'Pinny' in his scalp…
Rules. Who gets up to lead services? It seems like whoever wants just jumps up… what’s policy?... He led Kaddish for his hamster. You don’t say Kaddish for hamsters…
What did you vote on at the annual meeting?... Do we need a Pinchas to take a stand?
At the end of last week's Torah portion too many teenagers were having too much fun… I’m keeping this kid friendly Bernie. Because of this fun, as I will not repeat what I saw behind the shul, there was a plague. And I want our children to hear this. Sometimes these plagues are known as STDs… Sometimes your parents are…
(Bamidbar 25:11) H’ says. ‘Pinchas… turned away My wrath from the children of Israel when he avengend My vengeance.'
The Hebrew word used for ‘avenge’ is the same as used for jealousy. Kinah/קנאה. Pinchas stepped up and avenged Gd's קנאה, by killing two of the responsible parties... I am not saying that you should kill somebody if they have a decent yard... You shouldn't be jealous. It's a sin... Rashi does not translate קנאה with jealousy, but instead uses the terminology of revenge and anger, from the Hebrew words נקמה וקצף, also translated into Hebrew as 'revenge and whipped-cream.' We can learn from here that taking revenge is good. Revenge is right... In our shul, revenge is needed. Somebody's got to get back at some of these people who take extra time with their Amidah. Making us all wait... Like Pinchas stopped the plague by avenging, we must stop the plagues of our community.
We take back the cantor’s spot at the Bima. We have the rightful people saying Kaddish, like Mendy… He had Yahrzeits all week… You wouldn’t know because you skipped Minyin… I know. It’s too long. Simmy's leading davening is a blasphemy to the community, too. Though, I don’t know if it warrants stabbing… If you feel for H' and can take that revenge for him, then maybe. It does extend davening too long.
Pinchas gets the covenant of peace because he felt for H'. Because he was jealous for Gd... No. Being jealous for yourself is wrong... Karen has been coming to the shul for much longer than you, Sarah. That's why she has a better seat... We know it's right in front of you. Somebody should tell her hat is too big.
Many people find it hard to understand, as jealousy is wrong. However, vengeance for others is not... If the others is H'... We're not taking vengeance for Karen sitting in her seat.
This congregation is full of too many whiners. 'Oh, the choolante is too cold. Oh, the rabbi talks too long. Oh, whay whay whay...' Yes. The ‘why’s sound like Hebrew. Everybody complains, but nobody does anything. You have a leak in your home, You do nothing. You call a non-Jew to fix it. You’re whiny… Because you do nothing. Pinchas would’ve gotten up and fixed the shower… He would’ve caulked it. For Gd.
As a community, we have to get angry more. We need more vengeance. Our very own Sunday School lost to St. Paul's Christians this past weekend and not one parent got on the floor to beat the non-Jews. Do we just forgive the Crusades and let them win? No. We have to be more proactive and win the game for our kids… I’ve seen Dr. Kramer on the basketball courts… So, you get kicked out. You get banned… You’ve already been banned from the country club anyways… You don't move much, but you can throw an elbow for your child. What are we teaching in Sunday School if our children are not taking revenge?... For others. Not for yourselves...
You shall not be jealous for yourself. That's a commandment... It doesn't say 'for you.' But if this congregation's congregants took revenge for jealousy, anybody who's not overweight would be dead...
You take revenge for H’. Pinchas is jealous and takes revenge for Gd… It’s fine to be jealous for Gd. Not to be jealous for the loop earrings… Whose mom lets them wear that?... Are you also letting her engrave her name on her head?
For somebody else, it’s fine to be jealous. You can be out there fighting for others. Fighting for yourself to have somebody else’s house is wrong. Fighting for your Aliyah to the Torah is wrong. Fighting to lead the services for you is wrong… Because it’s Mendy’s week…
The stabbings downtown are not for Gd. They’re for better prices on shoes. Foot Locker didn’t have 20% off, then a stabbing and a bunch of people running out of the store… Who gave them the bags?
The plague ceased, due to Pinchas' revenge on Gd's behalf. What is wrong with jealousy? What is wrong with revenge? It's that when you do it, it is selfish, Pinny. Pinchas fought for what is right. He didn't do it because he was jealous. He saw something wrong...
Mr. Bergenthal didn't get an Aliyah last week. We should commend Mrs. Stein for avenging Mr. Bergenthal's wrath, by keying the gabbai's car (gabbai is the sexton). She stopped an all out Mi Sheberyach blessing aggression on the congregation. The next Aliyah opportunity, Mr. Bergenthal would have went on 15 minute blessing prayer for his son's children's friends and the whole community… No room for lengthened blessings for family… They’re selfish and they steal time for the congregation… We don’t have time for you to be pulling out lists of third cousins… One general Mi Shebeyrach blessing per person. There is community blessing etiquette… Nobody cares to hear everybody's name in the community mentioned, no matter how rich they are. There are times when blessings are wrong, and that’s when I want lunch… Shabbat lunch is for H’. Where is our Pinchas?...
Mrs. Stein stepped up. What are we doing to prevent these plagues from happening to our future generations? What are we doing for morality? Are we staying at home every night and forcing our children to watch the news with us? Are we following our children to the movies? Are we dressing them in family shared uniforms on vacation so that nobody will be attracted to them?... Summer vacation is not easy. Family uniforms make it easier to identify the child… Nobody else would dress their kid in the ‘Bergenthal Family Vacation’ shirt. That's how you ensure the children will act proper... If they look like losers...
Pinchas took initiative. He would’ve kicked the guy off the bima and davened faster. The services are taking too long… They were hurting the congregation. It was a plague of time.
That’s why he gets the rights of being a Kohen. Because he took that holy initiative… Yes. That’s correct Frank. He was already from a Kohen family. But those alive when leaving Egypt didn’t get the Kahuna rights... You had to earn it. Pinchas is the one who deserved it. As it says (Bamidbar 25:12) ‘Therefore say, “Behold I have given him my covenant of peace.”’ What is peace? It’s sticking up for people. It’s getting rid of a plague. It’s allowing for people to live. For Gd to be present… Sometimes you need to stab somebody. Yes… The covenant of peace is noticing someone else's needs. Noticing the community's needs... There was a plague, Simmy. And then you do what you can to stop it... By avenging. Showing his care and love for H' and the people...
He turned back the plague with his action of avenging (Bamidbar 25:13). Sometimes you have to fight. And that war of yours lasts forever. It helps our people live… If somebody were to just get that guy away from the Bima…
We need people to stick up for stuff…
Chilul H’s all the time. It’s an embarrassment to H.’ Nobody is holding the door for people leaving shul… And the kids don’t say ‘thank you.’ Thank you. That is correct… It makes Jews look bad. And then you leave the parking lot… They were leaving before you. I saw it… No. You can’t cut off people outside of New York… We need a Pinchas to stop this. It’s a plague.
The other shul is poaching our members… they come and take members for their Minyin. They have no shame… Other than nobody showing up, that’s why Mendy didn’t have a Minyin… We have to go to their shul and scare their members to leave… If we send our members there, that will scare them… They won’t want to go back to that Anshei Gneyvas Das… It's the middle of our Minyin and they take our members... The even take numbers... People think they're an offshoot of our shul... They announced their Mincha times at our Shacharit today... I announced it and then their cantor announced their times... Random people from their shul came... Where is our Pinchas to deal with the issues?...
He put his tissue on my shtender. It’s my siddur holder… It holds it on a nice angle. I like that. Tissues don’t need an angle. Tissues shouldn’t even be on the table… First he stands at the Bima… Does nobody else see a problem with it… It was a used tissue… I used the sanitizer in front of him… I was as passive aggressive as possible… I sprayed him… Mrs. Stein is the only one who would've done something. She would've at least done a car tissue rub... I don't know what that is. But at least she would've done something...
It all comes around. The Midianites that tried to get the Jews to sin are to be smitten (Bamdibar 25:17-18). They try to get us involved in their idol worshiping. They lead us astray. There is vengeance. Avengeance for Gd… Does it happen after the plague? After the idol worship? After my shtender has to be sanitized? Or, do we take an initiative and end it before the full plague takes fruition and people are sneezing all over the shul… Clean up at least. If you’re not going to venge, then clean up…
We want unity, but the unity of hate destroys us in the end… The board is unity of hate. They’re trying to not give the rabbi a raise. Just like the Midianites and Moavites who tried to get the Jews to sin… It’s the same thing. They only join together in hate of the rabbi.
Due to his sticking up for Hashem, Pinchas is rewarded with an everlasting covenant of peace. As we take on this new week, may we also take on the vengeance of what is right.
Now I know many of the people in this community don't have a great grasp on reality and if you took into your hands what is right we would have kichel every kiddush. Let us learn from Pinchas. Let us not be selfish. Let us be strong. Let us be virtuous. Let us get a decent coach for the Maccabi School basketball team. And may we have an everlasting peace, with few MiShebayrachs… Otherwise, we could have another crusades.
It is thus that we have the army. Chapter 26 (Bamidbar 26:1-4) begins with taking a census for those who go out to the legions for Israel... To stick up for H’ and what is right in this world. To stop the plagues of disease. Of people’s tissues on my stuff. Did we not see our members getting poached? Who is fighting for us… Pinchas. That is what a Jewish army does.
Rivka’s Notes on Rabbi Mendelchem’s Drasha
That was the third annual meeting of the year. I think the rabbi calls anything painful the annual meeting.
With his stabbing rhetoric, everybody thought our rabbi was getting too involved in the summer's protests.
The rabbi sounded just like the congregants when he complained about the cold choolante. It sounded just like Fran.
The rabbi started bringing in shul goons. I think people are going to start fighting for H'. There’s a lot of angst in the shul, as everybody wants to be a Kohen. I am happy that the rabbi recently told people that they can’t turn into a Kohen. The prerequisite of being born a Kohen holds true for all nowadays. The problem is that the Kohens in our community are sitting and learning Torah. They’re not equipped for stabbing people who put their tissues in random places.
The rabbi adding in 'for others' helped all understand the commandment of not coveting. For a moment, people thought they should go around beating other people up for what they wanted, as a mitzvah. That didn't sound like on of Gd's commandments.
New shul Pinchas initiatives: No more sneezing in the sanctuary. Tissues go in pockets. Mishebeyrachs for no more than two people, no matter how much money you give to the shul. Bulletin board cannot have up any sign people want. The other shul is posting their services times, for members they didn't poach. No standing at the Bima, unless if you are the Chazin. Even if you have to say Mishebeyrachs, and you're at the Bima for that, you should be moving away before anybody feels the need to get up and stab you. No stabbing for shoes. Stabbing must have a legitimate reason. You must hold the door and say 'thank you.' You must attend a 'thank you' workshop. If you don't say 'thank you,' you get stabbed. You can only be jealous for other people. Yahrzeit davening leaders have to be fast, and not mourning rodents. Poach from other congregations. No meetings. Annual meetings are now annual speeches given by the rabbi. Kiddish must not have kichel more than three times a month. Like Pinchas, from now on, people have to do what is right.
The Pinchas rule caused a lot of problems, as random members started taking initiative. Once the rabbi noticed how bad initiative is for our congregation, he took back the message of his sermon and told people that fighting for Gd means showing up for Minyin on time.
The rabbi had to take back the idea of being jealous for other people, as well. People mistook that for saying how much they hated others, with words like, 'Why do the Feldsteins own that house. The Greenfelds are so much nicer than they are. They should live there.'
Nobody ever argued with Mrs. Stein again. She even growled in the middle of the sermon. She's a beast. The 85 year old women in this congregation are tough.
The rabbi did the Keil Maleh prayers for the deceased. There were eight in Mendy’s family. It’s a hard week and it’s during the Three Weeks of Jewish mourning. The rabbi told Mendy how easy it is to mourn during this time when the whole community is mourning. That didn't make Mendy feel any better. As Mendy asked, 'How many members lost their parents in the destruction of the Second Temple?'
Yahrzeit candles have been handed out in the congregation. The rabbi’s message of commemorating and honoring our loved ones was taken to heart. The candles are great. The seven day candles last eight days. It’s made it hard on the people who have to keep Shiva. In order to get the days correct, they’ve started using calendars. Before having to figure out the exact days, many in our community tried following the ancient tradition of counting moons.
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He said he was only giving ten percent to charity. They called him a Mayser.
You get it? Miser. Mayser. Mayser is a tithe. They sound alike. If a Mayser was a type of person, it would work. He'd be a Mayser who gives Mayser. The Mayser would be a Miser.
Respect for our members of Hatzalah. What these guys are willing to do to drive a car on Shabbis... That guy on the right looks too comfortable to save anybody. The guy on the left is the one I would want showing up. He’s got more keys, and that’s the sign of a Hatzalah man that knows what’s going on... I respect them stopping and posing for the picture. It’s a great photo. I just hope the guy they were on their way to made it. (photo: hatzalah.org)