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The shul had less people this week than last week. That's what happens when eight of your finest get injured, due to ice and ankle injuries. The Minyin team is down, and the rabbi had to call in the backups to help with the ten this week.
Snow is still blocking people from coming to shul. How did I get into shul, through the window? The board can't figure it out.
The numbers went down. It was so bad last Shabbat. Nobody helps. Nobody even threw out salt. Forget about the shoveling. And then the Gabai tries to help, coming out with a hand full of table salt. The consensus conversation amongst the members was, 'I am going to shul to pray for my health. If I get injured before I get to shul, that doesn't help my health. I am just injured, with no prayer.'
Fran and Sadie slipped. They were holding each other. All of Kiddish, people were trying to figure out who the cause was. Fran had on high heels. She got most of the blame. The walkway with snow and ice is slippery. So, the rabbi decided we should pray for them. They were hung up on the couch in the coatroom. I personally think we should get rid of that couch. People come, take off their boots and get stuck. The comfort of the couch beats going into shul.
The following week, they shoveled enough to open the door. Too many people ripped their clothes going through the window. The devout members had to purchase new suits and dresses. This was after two weeks of injuries.
The Shiva house was horrific. The level of remorsefulness was not high enough. People were bothered a bit though. The way the street plow left the snow, it was almost impossible to get a decent parking spot. That bothered everybody at the Shiva. All of the conversation was about the plows and how hard it was to show respects for Merel. The most meaningful statement at the Shiva house was, 'Merel was a good woman. She would've wanted there to be decent parking.' That brought people to tears, as it reminded them that they had to move their cars, before getting tickets.
We had a wedding. I enjoyed the Shiva more. Asides from not being able to find parking, the smorgasboard was messed up.
It was the worst of times. The wedding was more depressing than the Shiva house. Family fights were happening the whole time. It was all based on parking. First it was everybody showing up late. Then suits getting ruined. Then 'where in the Gehenim is the photographer.' It was all blamed on the other side.
The Shiva house on the other hand. If they would've had half as good of food at the wedding, as the Shiva, it would've been a success.
Florida vacation time is now over. They are all back. We wouldn't know. The vacationers won't even step outside. If they see snow anywhere. they stay in. The older Jews in our community signed a petition to get rid of all snow in Topeka. The mayor is working on it. At least he told them that. I am just trying to get the shul board to do something about the snow in front of the shul. If people can't come, we don't have people. And they still blame the rabbi.
Rabbi Mendelchem’s Sermon
Shabbat Shalom My Drove
(Shemot 25:1) 'And make for me a Mikdash and I shall dwell there.' Not a ping pong club. I know a lot of you have recently got into ping pong. The shul tournament sounds great... It says nothing about making a ping pong house in the Torah. A Midkash is a Tabernacle… I don't know. They call it a Tabernacle.... No. We are not building a Tabernacle, Michael. We're not building. You even messed up the shul renovations. You can’t even clean your gutters right… You can’t use a Swiffer for everything. It doesn’t work in gutters… Gd dwells in a home that we make for Him. We have to build it… A tent is probably the best we can do. Even on the camping trip last year, you messed that up. Couldn’t even put pegs in the ground right… You smack them in. Pound them in. Let's first get down the tent. The small Tabernacle will be our shul... Tent tabernacle...
Does Gd dwell in this shul? Not with Frank and Mike talking the whole time. Back left is not Gd’s dwelling. Maybe in the front right, with Yoel… If your names where Feivel and Micha'el, would you stop talking... We have to make a decent place for Gd to dwell, without noise pollution. The renovations are not what Gd wants. He doesn't need a sleek open floor plan with neon walkway strips...
Where does Gd dwell? Not in the back left of the shul.
Mikdash- a Holy place. H' commands us to make for Him a Holy Place for Him to dwell. Not a place where kids run through the halls and run up on the Bimah, in the middle of the rabbi's sermon… They're drawn to the neon lights. They're exciting. With renovations like this… It feels like a playground. Got a mural in the back of the shul. The board tagged our shul… H’ doesn’t dwell with your crew, Francine.
H' tells Moshe to make for him a Mikdash, but not until he has received the 'Trumot, from those who hearts are inspired’ (Shemot 25:2). Moshe is to tell the children of Israel that they may give gifts to the Temple… Your old Siddurim and Sefarim are not gifts. You dropped them off in a box… Dropping stuff in a box at the door, because you need room in your house is not a Terumah. That’s not a donation to the shul. That’s the shul helping you. That’s a recycling program… Yes. You started it with your trash… Your chipped serving platter is not a Terumah… We end up burying the books anyways… We’re happy that H’s name is not defamed anymore, in your filthy homes… Shmuel didn’t even leave a box. He just dropped the books…
Gifts from those whose ‘hearts are driven.’ They have to want to give the gifts. It's the worst when you get a gift they don't want to give. I had to give back the calendar my aunt gave me when she couldn't find her doctors appointments anywhere... Your gifts are the worst thing… You don’t want to give them. I've seen those Chanukah gifts... Maybe you want to give some of them. I think the Fersteins were going took back their box they left at the shul and made it a Chanukah gift... It was ripped socks.
Chanukah in this shul is a downer.
Trumot are offerings and they have to be good... You don't offer your trash...
H' is telling Moshe to give the children of Israel a chance to not just give the required offerings, but to give what their hearts desire. A chance to be unique in what each one gives, or doesn't... Not that my children would have wanted the books you gave them for their Bar Mitzvahs. Some have bad ideas... That book should've been in the box you dropped at the door... Let's give the rabbi's son another book he won't read. One of you even read the book and then gave it. Your gift was something you didn't want yourself, Mrs. Kahn. H' does not want your trash, unless if it 's the oils, cloths, yarn or stone that is needed for the Beit Mikdash... This does not include another copy of the Book of Our Heritage... He got eight of them for his Bar Mitzvah... However, it is what is desired, within the realm of what is useful. It's a great Sefer. You should've given the Hebrew version though... Cheaper is better.
What do you give? H' tells you. Your kids have tried to tell you what they want, but you give them socks... That's not a gift, Sharon. That's a staple. You buy those when there are holes. The worst Chanukah. The only kids I know that don’t look forward to Chanukah. At this shul... They even hate sufganiot and latkes… Because the gifts are that bad.
(Shemot 25:3-7) ‘These are the portions that you shall take…’ Portions are gifts… Yes. Donations too... There is a list of stuff they can give… Tin pans are not a donation. It has to be gold, copper, silver, decent materials… Tin pans are not decent. There is a whole box of donated pasta… They wouldn’t take pasta for the Mikdash. The Tabernacle couldn’t use almost expired macaroni… It’s good for the kid necklaces, but that’s it… What are we going to use the almost expired spaghetti for? You can’t make necklaces out of those. Even new spaghetti is not usable... Everybody likes rice with their meatballs... Yes. More than spaghetti. Unless if you want to stain your shirt...
You need gift coaching. You don’t give the Book of Our Heritage for weddings. It’s for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs… There are proper gifts for proper times… Nobody ever needs socks as a gift. Especially ones that you sewed... Look at a registry, for crying out loud. The registry... The thought? They put thought into it. They are letting you know, 'After the thought that we've put into it, this is the gift you should get us. Not the Book of Our Heritage'...
That Torah cover was your table cloth. You were getting rid of it... It says ‘Kiddish’ on it. That was not donatable to the Mikdash. We now have 'Kiddish' written on the Torah's cover... I know that's when you go out for the Kiddish club, and drink. It's like a reminder to go out and drink... You're not supposed to listen to the Torah drunk. You don't pregame Torah reading. It's enough that you pregame Musaf... That's why you don't understand the importance of good gifts. You're tipsy when you hear it.
Now I know most of this Synagogue has not been inspired as of recent, as there has been nothing given towards the building fund... Does Mrs. Hurvitz even have a heart? We don't know. She hasn't given much to the shul, ever... After the triple bypass. That's when you donate. Things were real bad. We expected a donation. But nothing... Why do we need to visit you for gifts to the shul. You give it to feel better.
Now what would be useful for the shul is a new chair for the rabbi... Yes. You give that. Because it’s useful. Gold is useful.
Do you give anything to the Levi? Do you give to the poor? You don’t give to your rabbi… A dollar in the Tzedkah box is not charity. Two dollars is inspired...
Donate books that are meaningful to children, They need it… Picture books are great. The kids have the worst Hebrew school education... As long as the books have pictures. They can’t read Hebrew anyways.
The kids need meaning. The names you gave them aren’t meaningful. Kyler. Is that Yiddish? Jules. Who is she named after?... What is the meaning in names. David is beloved. Menachem is compassion. Terry? Fabric. Your kid is a kind of cloth... It's comfortable. Yes. You want your kid constantly coming out of the shower and terrycloth toweling...
The Shiva. That’s a good time to donate.
H’ dwells in a place where we donate stuff that He tells us to donate. Not stuff that is your decision. Not the decision of our members. We don’t put a pasta design on the Mikdash… No. We don’t use motor oil… It doesn’t light well, Fred. I know your garage uses it...
We make the Mikdash and then H’ dwells there. We have the stuff, but how do we make it... You just donate none of it to the shul. You have it...
What do we do with what you donate? You leave it to me, your rabbi…
(Shemot 25:9) ‘Like I show you, the form of the Mishkan and the form of the vessels. That shall you do.’ H’ knew to not trust people like you. You have no idea how to follow directions… I’ve seen you with Ikea... Thank Gd, I was able to talk you out of getting the Ikea ark...
Don’t start making up stuff to form. Only what H' wants. You make up stuff. That’s how we have the community quilt for the ark…
And the art work in the hall. Who came up with the idea of abstracts? Abstracts?!... Gd doesn’t want abstracts in the hallway. It’s shul...
How do you make an ark? Well let’s see. The directions are right in the Torah. (Shemot 25:10-16) ‘And make the ark of acacia wood’... Not oak, Bernie. I know oak is good. This is why we don’t let you make decisions. We need instructions.
‘…cover it in gold…’ Gold covers up any mess ups. It’s a good filler. If we would've used gold to cover up all the renovations… Yes. There are staves. You have to carry it. It’s part of the Mishkan. It wasn’t the Temple in Jerusalem…
I know you wanted to move the shul to the other side of town… Who is going to carry the quilt, the abstracts and the retaining wall to the other side of town, and rebuild… You need a permit, Tehillah...
Why do we treat it well? The tablets were put in it.
So, H' doesn't dwell in our shul. I believe that was the message.
We put in the effort, we give gifts and we build the Mishkan and H’ dwells there. Not in our shul... The Testimonial tablets are put in the ark that we build… Covered in gold, Tzvi. It has to be covered in gold. The kids of the day school don’t do a mural on it. It has to be built right. Only then can we have the Torah inside of it… With a quilt like this, I question if the Torah can be there. That's why I insist on opening the ark all the time... The kids didn't tag the Mishkan.
The wedding was messed up, because it wasn’t set up right… You never sit the bride and groom’s families together… Of course they hate each other. And now they hate our community... The gifts were messed up. Nothing from the registry...
Gd doesn’t dwell in a wedding with no Torah...
Does Gd dwell in your home? I don’t know if the Minkowitzs fight as much in their home as they do in shul?... Your home is full of filth and shmutz. If somebody sponsored a cleaner… The Cohens and Levis were good cleaners. They cared.
The shul is a Mikdash Mi’at, a small tabernacle… No community quilt would’ve been on the ark... It's not wanted. Never seen one in a registry... Even if it's cold out. You don't wear a quilt in the cold...
Rivka’s Notes on Rabbi Mendelchem’s Drasha
People drop their stuff at the shul. They feel bad throwing out the holy books, so they drop them at the shul.
We bury the books. I wish the members of the congregation would send that message to their relatives. It's become a modern thing to not bury people. They burn the bodies of close family members. Nobody would burn the books they like, as that is a sign of protest. I am sorry for bringing that up. I felt bad at my friend Mike's funeral. They burned him. It felt like they were protesting his existence, his life.
I had an argument with another friend who wants to be cremated. I was very bothered. He said he couldn't be buried, because he's claustrophobic. I tried explaining to him how tight jars are. He then said it was too much money to get buried. People in our community worry about money so much. Even after their dead they're working their finances. That's why we can't get a decent donation from anybody. They're thinking about how much stuff costs after they're gone.
Where does Gd dwell, was a question that had us all thinking. Does Gd dwell in our homes? The Minkowitzs haven’t cleaned for anything. I know. They invited me last Shabbat. Great meal. But Gd doesn’t like unclean feet. And they do fight a lot.
The renovations were messed up. The flashing neon lights for the continual candle, above the ark, is messed up. It kills my Kavanah. How do you have proper intent when you feel like you're at a casino?
If there was a dealer walking around shul, we would probably get more people showing up.
It was such a beautiful message. I could've listened for another hour. You give donations from your heart that are wanted. If it's not wanted, your heart kills the gift. Gd's Torah is like His registry for the Mishkan. Love it. Hopefully now I'll get less gifts and Rosh Hashana cards from people, and I will have to write less thank yous. I hate writing thank yous.
And then, what do we do with the gifts? We don't let the board decide. They'll ruin it, like they did the renovations. It was so meaningful. It also explains why my in-laws are always around. They gave us that painting when we first moved into our new house, and now they want to make sure we're using it right all the time.
Weddings in our shul are messed up. The gowns are too long. You have four people walking behind the bride. The mom is offended. Always offended that a random Gabai is there walking her daughter to the Chuaph. I have never seen a mother asking why there are four other random people walking around the groom, under the Chupah, holding her daughter's dress with her.
And the gifts are messed up. Always wrong for the time. They gave the newlyweds pink onesies, and a get well soon card. The rabbi is trying to teach about gifts. The message at his last gift giving class was that you don't give the Book of Our Heritage for everything. No matter how many people give you the book, you can't give it away indiscriminately.
He even gave a class on proper gifts, again. Twice in one week. He's given gift classes many times. And yet, nobody has given our rabbi a gift yet. He barely gets a raise. I think the message gets lost in the class. He should just say he wants a raise.
The rabbi was right. You don’t sit the bride and groom’s families together. Many fights. And then more fights about the gifts.
They do pregame Torah reading now at our shul. Kiddish on the Parochet, Torah cover, is a beyond subliminal message to drink
People have to stop talking at the Shiva houses. I have never heard Bernie say the right thing. The law of being silent is the key.
We need youth groups back. They say that it’s because there aren’t many kids. It only takes two to run in the shul and play hopscotch on the seats. The education in our shul is off.
Baby namings in our shul are off. Jewish education starts there. Mitch. Who was Mitch named after? Nobody knows. His granddad was Berel.
Frank and Mike are their Hebrew names. That’s why they feel they can talk in shul. Their parents messed up their Jewish education with their names. If they were a Feivel and Micha’el, or Mendel, they would have Kavanah.
The rabbi is right. Rice with meatballs is amazing. And it's Jewish. Our rabbi is the best.
Shalishudis was nice. The third Shabbat meal is always great. After eating two huge meals, I am fine with tuna fish and egg salad with peanuts.
They dedicated Shalishudis this week in honor of the bride and groom. That wasn't on their registry. I think they would've rather got the Maytag washer they wanted.
Two people were at Shalishudis, because they didn't leave the shul once they got in. The snow has hurt the shul morale. The only positive is that there's only two people witnessing it.
The Miniyin has to calm down. They're giving nasty looks to people for not showing up, when they do showup. The backups came in and the regulars were angry at them. How do you expect the backups to come back. They're backups because they don't have the Gd guilt.
Maybe the backups have something important going on. A personal thing, like a Shiva. Maybe they don't have enough snow gear to make it to shul.
I truly hope they shovel.
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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.