CLERGY CORNER: The Greatest Sermon

Posted on 01 August 2018 by LeslieM

There was once a new rabbi who came to his first pulpit. And, on the first Shabbat that he was there, he delivered a good sermon. Afterwards, everyone congratulated him. They all loved the sermon.

The next Shabbat, everyone came to shul, ready to hear the rabbi’s words. But he gave the same sermon. I don’t just mean a similar sermon, I mean the same exact sermon, word for word. No one knew what to say, so they went home quietly.

The third week, the rabbi got up to speak, the congregation was perfectly still, and lo and behold, again the same sermon, word for word.

This time they had to do something, so the president and the search committee were designated to go and speak with the rabbi. They made an appointment and came into his office.

Rabbi, it is so wonderful to have you here and we want you to feel very comfortable, but there is just one thing that is causing some concern. The first week you were here, you gave a very good sermon, and the second week, you gave the same sermon, and this week again the same exact sermon?!”

The rabbi was unperturbed.

Well, of course, I gave the same sermon; you’re still acting in the same way!”

The first thing that our Patriarchs and Matriarchs understood about communication and education was how wrong this rabbi was, how detached he was from his audience. Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebeccah, Jacob and Rachel, and Leah, knew that sermons, speeches and lectures will never do the trick. It’s all about the HEART.

Years ago, I came across a one-liner that had a profound impact on me personally: “Every rabbi has only one sermon — the way he lives his life.” It’s all too true. We can preach from today until tomorrow, but if we don’t “walk the talk” and live the game we purport to play, we will leave our audiences unmoved, cold and apathetic. The most eloquent orators will fail to make an impression if their listeners know that their message is hollow and isn’t backed up by genuine personal commitment.

As parents, we face the same challenge, we can have the best speeches in our minds, but, if we don’t walk the walk, than our most important audience will not grow. Our most important audience is our children and they demand HEART! When children see the way we parents behave, that inspires them to follow us.

So enough of the advice giving and the preaching; now, let us begin by watching our behavior and leading by example. Now, go inspire a generation.

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches, located in the Venetian Isle Shopping Center at 2025 E. Sample Rd. in Lighthouse Point. For all upcoming events, please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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