Tag Archive | "UNITY"

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CLERGY CORNER: Purim & Unity

Posted on 07 March 2019 by LeslieM

In the Purim story, read on Purim in the Book of Esther, the Persian Prime Minister, Haman, persuades the Persian king Achashverosh, to consent to a genocidal plan to annihilate the entire Jewish people. Haman offered the king a huge sum of money.

Reish Lakish said: It is revealed and known in advance to G-d that in the future Haman was going to weigh out shekels against the Jewish people; therefore, He arranged that the Jewish people’s shekels preceded Haman’s shekels.

What does this mean?

This Shabbos, Jews the world over read, in addition to the weekly Torah portion, an extra Torah, the “portion of the coins.” This section of the Torah records the mitzvah incumbent upon the people of Israel, to make a yearly contribution of a half shekel to cover the cost of all communal Temple offerings.

This mitzvah given to the Jewish people in the desert applied to all following generations as well. In every generation, every Jew was required to make an annual contribution of half his country’s standard coin, to cover the cost of the communal offering brought in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

So Reish Lakish is telling us that since G-d knew that in the future Haman was going to weigh out a hefty number of shekels—15,000,000 shekalim against the Jewish people, He arranged that the Jewish people’s shekels precede Haman’s shekels, to cancel out the power of the money which Haman gave to the Persian monarch.

Although this mitzvah is not applicable today, since we have no Temple, it is still a custom in Jewish communities to read this Torah portion at this time of the year. In the U.S., we contribute a silver 50-cent piece, since the dollar coin is our country’s standard coinage, just as the shekel was during the time of Moses.

This seems quite bizarre, to insist on Jews giving an imperfect gift!

The Torah wants each of us to contribute a whole complete shekel. But if I were instructed to contribute a complete shekel on my own, I could begin to think that I am a complete being in and of myself, since I have contributed a complete coin.

The Torah is attempting to teach us that you and I are really one. For me, the real me, the G-dly me, to contribute a complete shekel, I must contribute just a half shekel, allowing the other half to be contributed by my fellow Jew. When you and I contribute each a half shekel, each of us has, indeed, contributed a complete shekel.

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CLERGY CORNER: Diversity and Unity

Posted on 28 February 2019 by LeslieM

Rainbows are beautiful displays of nature that always seem to attract attention whenever and wherever they show up in the sky. Wikipedia defines a rainbow as “a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky.” They most often appear in the form of a multi-colored arc and are usually displayed in an area to the opposite of the position of the sun. Their color is attributed to the fact that water droplets break white sunlight into the seven colors of the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

In Genesis 9:13 God tells Noah, “I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.” Rainbows serve as beautiful reminders of the presence, power, and promise of God.

Like the rainbow, we are God’s handiwork in nature, creating beauty in our unity and reflecting His purpose and glory. From the beginning, God’s intention was for His diverse creation to exist in harmony and collaboration. Each aspect of the created world had a purpose and function that was to complement the others. Though different and distinct, the earth, sky, sun, stars, moon, animals, fish, vegetation and mankind were expected to coexist in peace.

Sin, birthed through Adam’s disobedience, ruined God’s original intent for man’s relationships with Himself and others, but does not exempt us from the need to fulfill His purpose. The Bible consistently urges us to brotherhood and oneness.

In the Genesis 9 account which details events after the Flood, verse 19 relates that from Noah’s three sons “the whole earth was populated.” In Acts 17:26, Paul proclaims that God “Has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Psalm 133:1 exclaims, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” In John 17:21, Jesus prayed for those who would believe in Him “that they may be one.” All these statements indicate that despite our undeniable differences we can and should live in unity and accord. We are related in our common humanity and connected by our need for the same things. We are family!

Too often we spotlight our differences and become exclusive because of our distinctions. History has revealed that this can lead to tensions, disagreements, injustice, brutality, racism and war. Instead, we should appreciate our uniqueness, collaborate on our common interests, and celebrate our collective achievements. Our differing perspectives, abilities and contributions can be synergized to accomplish collectively what none of us could do on our own. The reality of our undeniable diversity should never be allowed to prevent the results of our indisputable unity. As Dr. King famously remarked, in his “I Have A Dream” speech, “With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”

Musical notes are each distinct and unique for the sound that they make. On their own that uniqueness, though unequaled and spectacular, can become monotonous and uninspiring. The significance of the diversity of each note is not fully appreciated until they are combined in a melody that is sweet to the ear, sensible to the mind and soothing to the soul. The keys on any piano or organ are designed and intended to function in an intentionally harmonious collaboration of music and song. No one key can create a satisfying melody. So too our diversity is best appropriated when we recognize our connectedness and learn to live in purposeful unity.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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CLERGY CORNER: Challah bread

Posted on 03 November 2016 by LeslieM

Just a few decades ago, there lived a great symphony conductor, an Italian maestro named Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957), who led concerts all over the world. He was one of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and 20th Century, renowned for his intensity, his perfectionism, his ear for orchestral detail and sonority, and his photographic memory. Toscanini had a biographer who would interview him periodically over the years as a part of a major book he was writing on his life.

The following is a story I heard about Toscanini: One evening, the biographer called Toscanini and told him that he would be in town the next night and asked if could come to the house to interview him. Toscanini answered that he could not because he would be doing something special that would require absolute concentration; he could not be interrupted.

Maestro,” the biographer said, “if I may ask, what are you doing that is so special?”

Toscanini replied, “There is a concert being played overseas. I used to be the conductor of that symphony orchestra but I could not be there this year. So I’m going to listen to it on a shortwave radio and hear how the other conductor leads the orchestra. I don’t want any interruptions whatsoever.”

Maestro, it would be my greatest pleasure to watch how you listen to a concert played by an orchestra that you used to lead and I promise I won’t say anything. I will sit on the other side of the room, quietly,” said the biographer

You promise to be perfectly quiet?” Toscanini asked, to which the biographer replied that he would.

Toscanini answered, “Then you can come.”

The next night, the biographer came and sat quietly while Toscanini listened to the concert, which lasted almost an hour.

Finally, when it ended, the biographer remarked, “Wow, wasn’t that magnificent?”

Toscanini said, “Not really.”

His biographer asked, “Why not?”

Toscanini explained, “There were supposed to be 120 musicians, including 15 violinists but only 14 of them played.”

The biographer thought he was joking. How could he know from 6000 miles away, over shortwave radio, that one of the violinists was missing? The biographer had his doubts but didn’t want to say anything and went home.

The next morning, though, he had to find out for himself, so he called the concert hall overseas, asked for the music director and inquired as to how many musicians were supposed to have been playing the night before versus how many had actually shown up. The concert hall director told him that there were supposed to have been 120 musicians, including 15 violinists, but only 14 had shown up!

The biographer was amazed. He returned to Toscanini and said, “Sir, I owe you an apology. I thought you were just making it up the other night. But please, tell me, how could you know that one violinist was missing?”

There is a great difference between you and me,” Toscanini answered.” You’re a part of the audience and to the audience everything sounds wonderful. But I’m the conductor, and the conductor knows every note of music that has to be played. When I realized that certain notes were not being played, I knew without a doubt that one of the violists was missing. The music is perfect because of all the pieces coming together in unison.”

Are you that violinist which constantly doesn’t show up?

There are always unity events, community events, school events, city events and the list goes on … but how many of us think “if we don’t go, what does it matter?”

Think for a moment as Toscanini – if you were trying to unite your children, if you were trying to make peace amongst your children than would it matter if one did not show up? Of course it would; it would ruin the whole song!

It reminds me of the tradition of baking challah bread, which is to be eaten on Sabbath. Part of the commandment of “taking challah” (a portion of consecrated dough) it is derived from the following passages: “And it will be when you eat of the bread of the land, you should bring an offering to G-d. The first of your kneading bowl you shall donate to G-d as an offering…” (Numbers 15:19, 20)

In the details pertaining to taking off a portion of dough, the law stipulates that the flour and water have to be properly kneaded so that it is a single dough. The portion cannot be separated while the batter is still loose, leaving the necessary flour still attached to the edges of the bowl.

The flour most commonly used for bread is derived from wheat, a grain that symbolizes independence. Each granule has its own compartment separated from the rest. Independence and self-reliance are not necessarily negative traits unless they become a source of arrogance, an unhealthy ego. But we do not eat the wheat as is. It is refined and processed until it becomes flour. The external, superficial trappings of ego are crushed allowing the beneficial parts to remain.

The other main ingredient in dough is water. Water is a unifier, it binds things together, and its purpose is to bring life and nourishment to everything. Our daily bread is symbolic of the need to reach out and help people discover their own individual shining souls, the need to connect with others in order to bring them within our community.

Just as the dough is not ready for the portion of “challah dough” to be given as an offering until the flour and water are kneaded together well, a person cannot rest comfortably in their own environment and imagine that things are fine while there are others that are left outside and not included in the community.

Join our Mega Challah Bake on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at The Chabad Jewish Center, 2025 E. Sample Rd. in the Venetian Isle Shopping Center. For more info and to R.S.V.P., please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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CLERGY CORNER: One plus one is one

Posted on 06 March 2014 by LeslieM

I have this thing about using various melodies for the hymn Adon Olam. Recently, I did it to the tune of the theme from Gilligan’s Island. This was the story of the Skipper and his little buddy Gilligan, along with those who sailed with them on a three-hour tour on the S.S. Minnow, a trip that went horribly awry.

Bob Denver, Bob Hale Jr., Jim Backus … the movie star, the professor and Marianne … every one of these castaways was very different from one another. Each had their own talents, and each learned that, if they were going to survive on that island, then they had better learn to live together as one.

Of course, as far as I can remember, religion never seemed to come up in the show. I guess that was a good thing too, because they would have spent far too much of their time arguing over how many houses of worship to build and which one was better than the other and why.

Most of you remember that old joke about two people who are marooned on a deserted island for several years and, finally, a ship comes to rescue them. When the ship’s captain gets off to meet them, he finds that they have built three houses of worship … and, since there are only two castaways, he has to ask, “Why three?” To which they reply, “One is for me to pray in, the other for him, and the third neither of us would even think of ever walking into.”

According to the Torah, we were like one heart and one soul when we accepted G-d’s Law. That’s right, we were one … and isn’t that what we say of G-d in the Shema, Hear, Oh, Israel, the Lord our G-d is One!

Most of you have heard about the new math. But, while two plus two equaling three might be a bit confusing for you, get this, if you look up the word ONE in the dictionary, one of the definitions will say something along the lines of constituting a unified entity of two or more components … or being in agreement or union.

What on earth does that mean? Does it require two or more to make one?

On Friday nights, we chant L’Cha Dodi which tells us to greet the bride of Sabbath to greet Shabbat as we would a bride. In order for there to be a bride, there has to be another component. There has to be a partner, a groom. Of course, there would be no bride or groom without a mother and father … no mother and father without a bubbe and zaide, etc., etc. And there would be no one if not for G-d.

When Moses gathers all of Israel together again, it is not just to gather them together in one and the same place, at one and the same time, but to instill in them again one and the same vision. Sadly, I have heard far too many politicians on TV lately say that they do not share the same vision. It is time for all of us to gather and find that joint vision again– for that is what makes this country great.

If you want to be Echad … if you want to be one, then you have to EeChed. You have to unite. Let us unite again as one family, one nation, under one flag, under One G-d.

Shalom my friends,

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach. We welcome you to join our warm and caring family for Shabbat and festival services. We’ll make your heart glow…who knows, you might even fall in love with Shul all over again.

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