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Shabbat Bulletin - October 22, 2016

In shul, on Shabbat, Rabbi Eli greeted Zalman as Rabbi Zalman. This was the usual greeting of one Jew  to another before the war, and one which has been replaced in this country by the usual salutation using the first or last name. The sign of respect brought Zalman back to Lodge where he grew up and sadly to the reminder that the culture that he knew and loved is gone.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 06:  Bob Dylan speaks onstage at the 25th anniversary MusiCares 2015 Person Of The Year Gala honoring Bob Dylan at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 6, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The annual benefit raises critical funds for MusiCares' Emergency Financial Assistance and Addiction Recovery programs. For more information visit  (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 #NobelPrizeLiterature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

Cast your vote! Does he deserve the Nobel Prize? Apparently a controversial question.

Similarly controversial, your choice of smartphone, Apple VS. Android, boils down to ideology VS. technology,  proprietary and closed VS. open source, guided/following a trend VS. leading the way.

Ultimately, smartphones are only tools. Most of us will never delve into the nuts and bolts of their black boxes. Your choice of smartphone and how you use it, is up to you.

The Lodzer too has a new tool. We’ve switched to the new, “New Siddur.” - Android Edition. (Siddur Hadash for Shabbat & Festival Services,  Moreshet Edition  2008)
There are two kinds of prayer books. Some tell you exactly what you must do and some show you what you can do. You decide. You choose. Ultimately you assume the responsibility over; your prayers and services; over your very thoughts; over what you allow to consciously occupy your mind; and what you ultimately will do.

Yiddishkeit, our tradition was given to us as a gift, as a present, as a tool kit, and not as a straight jacket.

It’s your choice what tools you want to use.
Shavua Tov.

(I choose Android.)

“You never understood that it ain't no good
You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you.”






August 7-16, 2017

An in-depth view of the Baltic States

Seize the opportunity!

Early bird discounts still in effect!

Click here to find out more.

Information Night

Wednesday, October 26

7 PM at the Shul

Full details at


The Lodzer Music Festival.

Hope to see you all after the high holidays on Sunday, October 30 at 7 PM.

Meanwhile, check out the videos from our “Sundays at 7” series on YouTube

  1. The History of Klezmer Music - Raisa Orshansky and Viktor Kotov

  1. Where Does that Tune Come From? - Charles Heller

  1. The Songs of the Yiddish Theatre - Faye Kellerstein

  1. Jewish Music of North Africa - Cantor Aaron Bensoussan


Happy Birthdays to:

Oct. 16  Michael Sacks
Oct. 19  Ben-Zion Moshe
Oct. 21  Myrna Lichter

Oct. 24  Alisa Schwartz
Oct. 24  Debbie Spigelman
Oct. 24  Agnes Tabacznik


Oct. 16  Jack & Carole Abrahams
Oct. 16  Frank & Esther Steiman
Oct. 19  Jim & Nina Rubin
Oct. 20  Meir & Alisa Schwartz


Oct. 20  Lillian Coretsky, mother of Barry Corey

Oct. 23  Molly Heller, mother of Esther Bloch
Oct. 24  Sam Heller, father of Esther Bloch
Oct. 25  Gertrude Markowitz, mother of Sydney
Oct. 25  Mitchell Saper, father of Tammy Remez
Oct. 26  Sala Ber, mother of Josef
Oct. 26  Hanna Jackson, mother of Simon


אז מיהאט נישט קיין אתרוג דארפ מען נישט קיין פושקע נישט האב.

Az m'hot nisht kein esrog, darf men kein  pushkeh  nisht hobben.

When you don't have an esrog, you don't need a box for it.

Metaphorical Meaning:

When the main article is absent, it's accessories are superfluous.

In The Sources:

Pity one who has no home, but makes a gate for it.

( Shabbos 31b).


ס׳געייט אימ מיט דעמ פיטמ אראפ.

S'geit im mit di pittem arop.

His esrog fell with the tip down.


When an Esrog falls on it's tip, it almost certainly becomes unfit.

Metaphorical Meaning:

He is having bad luck.



8 Tishri, 2935

826 BCE


Temple Dedicated

The 14-day dedication festivities, celebrating the completion of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem built by King Solomon, commenced on the 8th of Tishrei of the year 2935 from creation (826 BCE). The First Temple served as the epicenter of Jewish national and spiritual life for 410 year, until its destruction by the Babylonians in 423 BCE.

(We’ve been around awhile!)


The Holy Temple is the Divine "home" and "place," as the "gate of Heaven" for man's service of G-d, and as the ultimate embodiment of G-d's desire to create life and mankind's endeavor to sanctify it.


Oct. 22

20 Tishri




Kiddush Lunch


This week’s kiddish is sponsored by:

Meir and Alisa Schwartz
for their anniversary

and for Alisa's birthday


Torah Times

Torah Reading: Triennial Year 3

Parashat: Exodus 33-44 (pg. 362)

33: 12 - 16
33: 17 - 19
33: 20 - 23
34: 1 - 3
34: 4 - 10
34: 11 -17
34: 18 - 26

Maftir: - (pg. 698)

Numbers ch 29 v. 26 - 31

Haftorah pages 979 - 982

Candle Lighting: 6:04 p.m. – Friday

Havdalah: 7:11 p.m. – Saturday



Oct. 23

21 Tishri

9 a.m.

Ha Shannah Raba



October 24

9 a.m.

Shemini Atzeret

10:30 a.m.


Hoshanah Rabah and
Shmini Atzeret

4-Havatat Aravot.jpg

Eighth Day of Assembly

Havatat Aravot:

On the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabba, we beat a bundle of willow branches (actually one is enough) on the floor. To prepare the ground for the rain to penetrate.

Falling just after Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret is the holiday on which Jews start praying for rain.

“On the eighth day you should hold a solemn gathering; you shall not work at your occupation.”


Oct. 24

6 p.m.

Erev Simchat Torah



Oct. 25

23 Tishri

9 a.m.

Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah

ends 7:01 p.m. no evening services

Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah is the holiday that celebrates the conclusion of the yearly cycle of reading the Torah, after which we begin anew reading the Five Books of Moses, starting from the first chapter of Genesis.

Day of Celebrating the Torah



October 26

7:00 PM




Bring a friend!

(or two)


the Baltic States

With Rabbi Eli

August 7-16, 2017

Full details at


Seize the opportunity!

Early bird discounts still in effect!



October 27

7:30 PM


Book Chat

with Cathy Zeldin


"Pumpkin Flowers" by Matti Friedman.

It is well worth the read; recommended by the Jewish Book Council.

The hill, in Lebanon, was called the Pumpkin; "flowers" was the military code word for casualties.

Part memoir, part reportage, part history, Friedman’s powerful narrative captures the birth of today s chaotic Middle East and the rise of a twenty-first-century type of war in which there is never a clear victor and media images can be as important as the battle itself.


October 29

27 Tishri



9:12 AM

Led by

Frank Steiman

Please help us out by coming early…

We need a minyan to start!


9:30 AM

Prayer is meant to be a powerful, relevant and meaningful experience.

Read through the prayers and slowly think about what you’re saying and don’t be overly concerned about being behind. Look, the worst that could happen is that you will fall behind, but don’t worry, they’ll probably announce the pages so you can always catch up.



October 30

7 PM




12 Heaton St.




The Jewish Role in Jazz

and the

Israeli Jazz Scene.

Presentation by:

Reuven Grajner


November 2

Rosh Chodesh

1 Heshvan

7:30-8:30 pm


Parsha of The Week


Hi All - Due to the Holidays throughout October, our Parsha of the Week class will be cancelled all month - resuming on Wednesday November 2 at 7:30. I wish you all a Hags Sameach and an easy fast. See you in shul!


with Judy Hazan

Join this lively group every Wednesday night at 7:30 PM at The Lodzer where we study the week’s sedra together.

Classes are informal and no prior knowledge or preparation is required.

The purpose of the class is to learn the story of the parsha, determine its most important elements and tie its morals and lessons into our daily lives.

This is open to the public and there is no cost.

For more information contact:

Judy Hazan 416-704-1693

November 2



The Balfour Declaration, written as a letter on November 2, 1917, from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to British Jewish leader Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, pledged British support for a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. The declaration is one of the iconic documents in, and represents one of the great moments of, Zionist history.

“His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

Arthur Balfour


November 6

2 PM




12 Heaton St.




We Polish Jews:

The Troubled Holocaust Legacy

of Julian Tuwim, 1894–1953

Poet Julian Tuwim was among the first and most powerful literary voices of the Holocaust experience.

Born in Lodz, Tuwim was a leading Polish-Jewish poet during the 1920–30s. In 1944, Tuwim wrote an anguished lament and manifesto of murdered Jewry, ‘We Polish Jews,’ as a refugee in New York.

In Tuwim’s writing, identity, belonging, betrayal and memory coalesce in unexpected ways. This presentation will be given by Dr. Myer Siemiatycki, a professor in the Department of Politics & Public Administration at Ryerson University. Books will be available for purchase and author signing following the program.


Julian Tuwim in conversation with

Sheldon Richmond on why they

returned to Lodz after the Shoah.

Presented by Lodzer Centre Congregation

As part of:

Holocaust Education Week
November 2-9, 2016


November 6

7 PM




12 Heaton St.




The Golden Age of Cantorial Music.

Presentation by:

Cantor David Nemtzov


November 8

Fright Night (LIVE):

The Amazing Race

“There’s no place

like home...

and I’m not going to leave

here ever, ever again.”



November 20

7 PM




12 Heaton St.




Jewish Music of The Middle East:

Part One.

Presentation by:

Cantor Aaron Bensoussan


November 27

7 PM




12 Heaton St.


All classes are on Sunday at 7 pm:

Free of charge.

Donations are welcome.

Refreshments will be served following

each presentation.

This project is funded

in part by the

Government of Canada


Jewish Music of Eastern Europe.

Presentation by:

Raisa Orshansky & Viktor Kotov



December 4

7 PM




12 Heaton St.




Jewish Music of The Middle East:

Part Two.

Presentation by:

Cantor Aaron Bensoussan


December 8

7:30 PM


Book Chat

with Cathy Zeldin

Black Widow-Daniel Silva_w200.jpg

A network of terror.
A web of deceit.
A deadly game of vengeance.

Legendary spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon is poised to become the chief of Israel’s secret intelligence service. But on the eve of his promotion, events conspire to lure him into the field for one final operation. ISIS has detonated a massive bomb in the Marais district of Paris, and a desperate French government wants Gabriel to eliminate the man responsible before he can strike again.


December 18

7 PM




12 Heaton St.




Israeli Music.

Presentation by:

Cantor David Edwards

RANT - “Not my values”  (Jonathan Usher)


Justin Trudeau was quoted as saying that “Canada and China have different systems of law and order and different approaches, and it’ll be very important that any future agreement be based on reflecting the realities, the principles, the values that our citizens hold dear in each of our countries.

This is true and realistic for economic agreements but should not apply to social or political relationships. Canada must not approve of gays being killed or women being forced to “cover-up” in Arab lands. We must not approve of the oppression in China, nor of their policies of collecting body parts for sale. We must insist that our values, when they differ from those of other countries are superior values - or else we should change them.

All values are not equal, some are better than others and ours are on the high side.  We should brag about and promote our Canadian values. They have made Canada one of the best places to live in the world.

National Post | Letter to the Editor | Published: Oct. 13

Good News

Kudos to all who played a part in our high holidays and throughout this past year:

  • Our Beama Leadership: B’aal Koreh Harvey, Frank, Arthur, Cantor Marcel, Rabbi Eli. (Yes Frank, the Choir! Conducted by Dr. Loewen.)

  • Yasher koach to: Jonathan on Pirke Avoth, Judy’s POW, Cathy’s Book Chat, Charles’ e-bulletin (and it’s many contributors, thanks!)

  • ‘Sundays at 7’ continues to be a huge success.

  • Behind the scenes: Arnold, Rafi, Jeff and our Board Members, Sarah and many from our congregation.

  • Bema Matters/Contributors: Isi, David, Judy, Naomi, Ayala, Yona, Sheldon, Marilyn, Susan, Nancy, Frank, Dora and Jacqueline.

I forgot my wife, so don’t feel too bad if your name is missed.

(I’ll be sleeping in the Sukkah tonight.)

  • Harvey and Marcel have put together a special/amazing book for our upcoming  Hoshana Rabba service… You won’t want to miss it -- come out and support their efforts.

  • We have new siddurim, “silent Amidah, page 370.”  (Congregation: “That’s not the right page!”)

  • Marilyn invites all to drop by and join them in their popup Sukkah. Sheldon built it. It seats 4. Your knees may be touching.


As both the e-bulletin and the “Shabbat Handout” are now well established, Jonathan Usher will no longer act as editor, but will continue to contribute articles and be the Board’s representative for the Bulletins. (Thanks Jonathan.) We thank Talia for her help in laying out the “Shabbat Handout” this past year. Judy Hazen is back. Welcome!


Under Construction: Shul Side Entrance

We will be modifying the side entrance to include steps, a ramp and handrails.

(Thanks to Jonathan for spearheading this initiative.)


Biographical Vignettes of two of the rabbis quoted in Pirke Avoth

Please note that these two religious leaders were not only biblical scholars and moral people but also leaders of their communities and associates and friends of non-Jews.

Rabbi Judah haNasi

Rabbi Judah haNasi, the son of Rabbi Simeon ben Gamaliel 2, lived approximately from 135 to 220 C.E. When his father died, about 170 c.e., he succeeded him as nasi (patriarch). The Talmud attests to his singularly moral life. So learned and pious was he that pupils and colleagues called him rabbenu  hakkodosh, “our holy master” and often, as at the beginning of this perek, he is called simply rabbi - a mark of unusual respect.

Though a man of great means, Rabbi Judah lived simply and used his money to support students and the needy. He knew Greek well, but in his household only a pure Hebrew was spoken.

Above all else, he is noted for the redaction (the process of editing a text for publication) of the Mishnah, which he completed about 200 c.e. Relying on a boundless memory and an encyclopedic knowledge of the oral Torah, and following the work that earlier sages such as Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Meir had begun to do, he reduced an overwhelming mass of material to a basic compendium of primary importance.

Rabbi Judah ruled as nasi with great authority, to such extent that for the first time since Hillel the title nasi was added as a permanent part of the patriarch’s name. Not since Moses himself, says the Talmud, are Torah and majesty so fused in one. His authority remains strong for all time: wherever a ruling is given in his name, it is accepted as binding, overriding any other views that may exist.

His disciples so loved him that when Bar Kappara found him expired, he had not the heart to tell the others, until he thought of a parable: “ The angels and pious humans both seized the Holy Ark [and struggled to possess it]. The angels prevailed, and the Ark was taken!”

Wikipaedia on Judah haNasi

"Cave of the Coffins" at Beit She'arim National Park.

The traditional burial place Judah the Prince is in a similar adjacent catacomb.

Judah the Prince (Hebrew: יהודה הנשיא, Yehudah HaNasi) or Judah I, also known as Rabbi or Rabbenu HaQadosh (Hebrew: רבנו הקדוש, "our Master, the holy one"), was a second-century rabbi and chief redactor and editor of the Mishnah. He was a key leader of the Jewish community during the Roman occupation of Judea. According to the Talmud he was of the Davidic line, the royal line of David, hence the title nasi "prince".[3] The title nasi was also used for presidents of the Sanhedrin. Judah died on 15 Kislev around 217 CE.

Judah the Prince was born in 135 CE. According to the Midrash, he came into the world on the same day that Rabbi Akiva died a martyr. The Talmud suggests that this was a result of Divine Providence: God had granted the Jewish people another leader of great stature to succeed Rabbi Akiva. His place of birth is unknown. He is the only tanna known as Rabbeinu HaQadosh, "our holy teacher", due to his deep piety.

Judah spent his youth in the city of Usha. His father presumably gave him the same education that he himself had received, including the Greek language. This knowledge of Greek enabled him to become the Jews' intermediary with the Roman authorities. He favoured Greek as the language of the country over Jewish Palestinian Aramaic.  It is said that in Judah's house, only the Hebrew language was spoken, and even the maids spoke it.

Rabbi Judah HaNasi, taking as an exemplum an act that he heard performed by Rabbi Meir, released the entire region of Beit Shean from the obligations of tithing home-grown produce, and from observing the Seventh Year laws with respect to the same produce. He also did the same for the cities of Kefar Tzemach, Caesarea and Beit Gubrin.

According to the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 10a-b), Rabbi Judah HaNasi was very wealthy and greatly revered in Rome. He had a close friendship with "Antoninus", possibly the Emperor Antoninus Pius, though it is more likely his famous friendship was with Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus who would consult Judah on various worldly and spiritual matters.

The Talmud records the tradition that Judah was buried in the necropolis of Beit She'arim, in the Lower Galilee. It was here that he also established a seat of learning.[17]

According to Rabbinical Jewish tradition, God gave both the Written Law (the Torah) and the Oral law to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Oral law is the oral tradition as relayed by God to Moses and from him, transmitted and taught to the sages (rabbinic leaders) of each subsequent generation.

For centuries, the Torah appeared only as a written text transmitted in parallel with the oral tradition. Fearing that the oral traditions might be forgotten, Judah undertook the mission of consolidating the various opinions into one body of law which became known as the Mishnah. This completed a project which had been mostly clarified and organized by his father and Nathan the Babylonian.

The Mishnah consists of 63 tractates codifying Jewish law, which are the basis of the Talmud. According to Abraham ben David, the Mishnah was compiled by Rabbi Judah the Prince in anno mundi 3949, or what is also the year 500 of the Seleucid era, which corresponds to 189 CE.

Talmudic narratives

Various stories are told about Judah to illustrate different aspects of his character. One of them begins by telling of a calf breaking free from being led to slaughter. According to the story, the calf tries to hide under Judah's robes, bellowing with terror, but he pushes the animal away, saying: "Go — for this purpose you were created." For this, Heaven inflicted upon him kidney stones, painful flatulence and other gastric problems, saying, "Since he showed no pity, let us bring suffering upon him."

The story remarks that when Judah prayed for relief, the prayers were ignored, just as he had ignored the pleas of the calf. Later he prevented his maid from hurting the offspring of a mongoose, on the basis that "It is written: 'His Mercy is upon all his works.'" For this, Heaven removed his gastric issues, saying, "Since he has shown compassion, let us be compassionate with him."

Judah also said, "One who is ignorant of the Torah should not eat meat." This is because one who is ignorant is on the same level as animals. What, therefore, gives him the right to partake of them as food? Perhaps the punishment he received for lacking compassion toward the calf helped him to see that eating animals is not a matter that should be treated lightly.

While teaching Torah, Judah would often interrupt the lesson to recite the Shema Yisrael. He passed his hand over his eyes as he said it. (Berachot 13b)

Before he died, Judah said: ‘I need my sons!... Let the lamp continue to burn in its usual place; let the table be set in its usual place; let the bed be made in its usual place.” (Ketubot 103a)

Judah said: "Much have I learned from my teachers; more from my colleagues but most from my students.”

Post-Talmudic narratives

Rabbi Judah ben Samuel of Regensburg relates in Sefer Hasidim §1129. (Cf. Ketubot 103a) that the spirit of Rebbi Judah used to visit his home, wearing Shabbat clothes, every Friday evening at dusk. He would recite Kiddush, and others would thereby discharge their obligation to hear Kiddush. One Friday night there was a knock at the door. "Sorry," said the maid, "I can't let you in just now because Rabbeinu HaKadosh is in the middle of Kiddush." From then on Judah stopped coming, since he did not want his coming to become public knowledge.

Rabban Gamaliel

He was the elder son of Rabbi Judah haNasa; he lived early in the third century CE. As Rabbi Judah lay dying, he designated him to be the next nasi, and charged him, “My son, conduct our presidency with high majesty, and drive your students hard [ with stern discipline, that they respect you].” But we find that Rabban Gamaliel rather taught: “Whoever has compassion on people, Heaven will have compassion on him.” It was probably he who added the final touches to the Mishnah that his father codified.

Reprinted from The Jewish Religion: A Companion, published by Oxford University Press.

Rabban Gamaliel is the name and title of six holders of the office of Nasi, Prince, in Palestine during the first five centuries CE. The title Rabban, "our master," was used to distinguish the Nasi from other rabbis. The office of Nasi was primarily one of religious authority but the Nasi also played an occasional political role in representing the Jewish community to the Roman authorities.

Since practically all the references to the office are in sources compiled later and are far from being contemporary records, it is difficult to know for certain how the office came about and the precise way in which the affairs of the Nasi were conducted. From the later sources (Talmudic and Midrashic) it appears that the first Nasi was Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai, a disciple of Hillel, after whom Rabban Gamaliel, a grandson of Hillel, served as Nasi; the office then became a hereditary one held by Gamaliel’s


Rabban Gamaliel II (also spelled Gamliel; Hebrew: רבן גמליאל דיבנה) was the first person to lead the Sanhedrin as Nasi after the fall of the second temple, which occurred in 70 CE. Gamliel was appointed nasi approximately 10 years later. Gamaliel II was the son of Shimon ben Gamaliel, one of Jerusalem's foremost men in the war against the Romans, and grandson of Gamaliel I. To distinguish him from the latter he is also called Gamliel of Yavne.


In Yavne, during the siege of Jerusalem, the scribes of the school of Hillel had taken refuge by permission of Vespasian, and a new centre of Judaism arose under the leadership of the aged Johanan ben Zakkai, a school whose members inherited the authority of the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem. Gamaliel II became Johanan ben Zakkai's successor, and rendered immense service in the strengthening and reintegration of Judaism, which had been deprived of its former basis by the destruction of the Second Temple and by the entire loss of its political autonomy. He put an end to the division which had arisen between the spiritual leaders of Judaism by the separation of the scribes into the two schools called respectively after Hillel and Shammai, and took care to enforce his own authority as the president of the chief legal assembly of Judaism with energy and often with severity. He did this, as he himself said, not for his own honor nor for that of his family, but in order that disunion should not prevail in Israel.

Gamaliel's position was recognized by the Roman government also. Towards the end of Domitian's reign (c. 95 CE), he went to Rome in company with the most prominent members of the school of Javneh, in order to avert a danger threatening the Jews from the action of the emperor. Many interesting particulars have been given regarding the journey of these learned men to Rome and their sojourn there. The impression made by the capital of the world upon Gamaliel and his companions was an overpowering one, and they wept when they thought of Jerusalem in ruins. In Rome, as at home, Gamaliel often had occasion to defend Judaism in polemical discussions with pagans, and also with professed Christians. In an anecdote regarding a suit which Gamaliel was prosecuting before a Christian judge, a converted Jew, an appeal to the Gospel and to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:17 is made, with one possible reading of the story indicating that it was Gamaliel making this reference.

Rabbi Gamaliel II directed Simeon ha-Pakoli to edit the Amidah and make it a duty, incumbent on every one, to recite the prayer three times daily. Also, he directed Samuel ha-Katan to write another paragraph against informers and heretics.[4]

He was on friendly terms with many who were not Jews, and was so warmly devoted to his slave Tavi that when the latter died he mourned for him as for a beloved member of his own family.

He loved discussing the sense of single portions of the Bible with other scholars, and made many fine expositions of the text. With the words of Deuteronomy 13:18 he associated the lesson: "So long as thou thyself art merciful, God will also be merciful to thee." Gamaliel died before the insurrections under Trajan had brought fresh unrest into Israel. At his funeral obsequies {funeral rites} the celebrated proselyte Aquila (Akylas Onkelos), reviving an ancient custom, burned costly materials to the value of seventy minae. Gamaliel himself had given directions that his body was to be wrapped in the simplest possible shroud. By this he wished to check the extravagance which had become associated with arrangements for the disposal of the dead, and his end was attained; his example became the rule, and it also became the custom to commemorate him in the words of consolation addressed to the mourners. Gamaliel's son, Simon, long after his father's death, and after the persecutions under Hadrian, inherited his office, which thenceforward his descendants handed on from father to son.


Gamaliel was a controversial leader. He excommunicated his own brother-in-law, Eliezer ben Hyrcanus. In a dispute about fixing the calendar, Rabban Gamaliel humiliated Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah and this led to a rabbinic revolt against Gamaliel's leadership of the sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin installed Rabbi Eleazar Ben Azariah as the new Nasi. After reconciling with Rabbi Joshua, Rabban Gamaliel was reinstated as Nasi, with Rabbi Eleazar serving along with him in a rotation every third week. According to the version recorded in the Jerusalem Talmud, Rabbi Eliezer served as Av Bet Din, effectively as a vice regent.

Quotes of the Day

"If you don't know what you're living for, you haven't yet lived.”

Rabbi Noah Weinberg, of blessed memory

Life is the most precious thing we have. Everyone wants to live a life of meaning. But we are so busy 'living' that we don't have a moment to really think about living. One of my father’s priorities was getting people to ask the big questions in life, to get out of the pettiness and focus on living a life of real purpose.

Yehuda Weinberg

"I do not want followers who are righteous, rather I want followers who are too busy doing good that they won’t have time to do bad."

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk

UNESCO fuels hatred and anti-Semitism

When the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) talks… Nobody listens.

What happened to their mandate to build peace in the minds of men and women?

UNESCO disregards Judaism’s historic connection to the Temple Mount and casts doubt on the link between Judaism and the Western Wall.


FYI: "Replacement theology" is the teaching that the Christian church has replaced Israel in the Biblical promises of God.


(The things that never happened to a people that never existed.)

Haimishe Humour

The Italian says,

I'm tired and thirsty. I must have wine.

The Scotsman says,

I'm tired and thirsty. I must have Scotch.

The Russian says,

I'm tired and thirsty. I must have vodka.

The Jew says,

I'm tired and thirsty. I must have diabetes.


The Source of Our Blessings

One of my earliest childhood memories of being in Synagogue was the all too frequent announcement; alternately, “All rise! Please be seated!” I remember thinking, “Why don’t they make up their mind?” When considering the rapid transition from the “Days of Awe” to the “Time of our Happiness”, on Sukkos, one might be left with the same feeling. What’s the deal here?! Is the relationship one of overwhelming fear or abundant love, or both somehow?

Avraham manifested the epitome of human dedication when he stood willing to sacrifice his principles, his reputation, his future, his beloved son, with one swipe of the knife. We know how the story ends. The Almighty was testing to see if he was willing to give it all up and he lived up to the test. Today we continue to draw from the fount of the account gained by his noble intentions. In the last instant he was interrupted and an announcement was made “Now I know you fear G-d, because you did not withhold your son, your only son, from Me!”

That must have been the height of heights, but then something even greater happened which seems to have eclipsed the prior achievement. How could that be? We are told that Avraham noticed a ram in caught in the thicket, which he subsequently sacrificed in place of his son, and a second Divine announcement was made, “I swear, so says Hashem, because you did this (the sacrifice of the ram) and you did not withhold your son your only son, I will bless those who bless you. I will increase your seed like the stars of the heavens and like the sand of the sea shore and your seed will inherit the gates of its enemies. All the nations of the world will be blessed through your descendants because you have hearkened to My voice!”

What’s the big deal with the ram? Why after having demonstrated his willingness to give up his son he is titled as one who fears Hashem, which is no small matter, but when he brings some stray creature in his stead, the act of bringing his son is again evoked and mountains of blessing begin to flow in his general direction?

Imagine it’s mid-winter and on Shabbos eight feet of snow falls. After Shabbos your boss or significant authoritative other calls and all but commands that you come immediately and dig him out so he can catch a plane. Immediately you get into serious gear, winter gear, and spend the next two hours just getting yourself out from under the snow. Now you hurry to the boss’s house to perform the same task on his extra long driveway.

When you arrive you notice the driveway is clear already. The plow must have just come. Your boss is already strolling to the waiting Town-Car with is luggage. He thanks you for your effort for coming and titles you a dutiful worker on his way by. Suddenly he notices you running to your car. At first he assumes you are looking to escape before he innovates some other mission impossible. Rather, he witnesses something that amazes him. You take out your broom and dust off his mailbox and sweep a few crumb of snow from here and there. Then as you go back to your car, he runs after you, in tears, offering you a raise for your devotion for having swept around a little. What went right here?

Maybe when you came, initially, your motive was fear, thinking, “What would be the result of not coming? How can I not go when the boss calls!?” By merely arriving you had demonstrated your loyalty. You would have been forgiven for escaping at that moment before he changed his mind and threw another monumental task your way. However, when you took out the broom and swept up, even though the act is significantly smaller, you showed that your original motive was not fear alone but an abiding love, a sincere desire to come close. Therefore the treasure house of blessing is opened. Raises and bonuses are in order.

The same applies to Avraham and the wayward ram and to us in this season of seeming mixed emotions. Simply sitting in a Sukkah reveals retroactively that the devotions demonstrated during the “Days of Awe” were not done due to dread alone but were driven by a deeper dynamic. That tiny extra touch excites a cover of love above and is the source of our blessings!

Text Copyright 2002 Rabbi Dovid Green and Project Genesis, Inc.

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The High Holidays are a time for apologizing. But when it comes to getting forgiveness in return, that’s up to the people you’ve wronged.

By Marjorie Ingall
October 10, 2016

I spend a lot of time thinking about apologies. It’s not a Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur thing for me; my friend Susan and I publish a website called SorryWatch year-round, analyzing apologies in the news, history, literature, art, and pop culture. We’re interested in apologies precisely because they’re so hard to do well. By parsing the good ones and vivisecting the bad ones, we hope to make everyone able to say they’re sorry just a bit better.

I’ve talked on Tablet’s Unorthodox podcast about what you need to do to apologize well: Explicitly say what you did wrong (don’t just say “I’m sorry for what happened” or “I’m sorry if you were upset”); use the actual words “I’m sorry” rather than “I regret” (regret is about your emotions, not the other person’s); show that you understand the consequences of your actions; tell how you will ensure that this doesn’t happen again; and make reparations if possible.

And don’t just take our word for it. We may just be mere fans of the art of apology, but science backs us up. This past May, a study came out in the journal Negotiation and Conflict Management Research that presented fictional apologies to 755 people and looked at the elements that made the apologies most effective. The researchers found that the best-received apologies had the following attributes: an expression of regret, an explanation of what went wrong, an acknowledgment of responsibility, a declaration of repentance, an offer of repair, and a request for forgiveness. By far the most important element of the six was the acknowledgment of responsibility. The least important was asking for forgiveness. Which is good, because Susan and I feel that asking for forgiveness doesn’t belong in an apology at all! In our view, asking for forgiveness is like asking for a present. Of course a beautifully wrapped package is a source of joy, but to explicitly request it is presumptuous. You gotta wait until it’s offered (and then act surprised, delighted, and humbled, because even if you think you’re entitled to a present, guess what, you’re not.) The person you apologize to gets to decide whether to forgive you, and they get to choose the timetable. You, on the other hand, have to sit with your discomfort, marinating as if you’re wearing a too-hot and itchy sweater. Similarly, do not say “I’d like for us to move on” after you’ve apologized. That’s not your call to make.

As I’ve mentioned here before, there’s a moving-on/forgiveness scene in the book Eat Pray Love that made me crazy. The scene takes place in India; our narrator has a revelation on an ashram rooftop that her estranged husband has forgiven her. It’s not presented as wishful thinking; it’s presented as an otherworldly, beautiful thing that has actually happened. Nope. You do not get to decide that transcendence has occurred. When there are residual bad feelings in the wake of a shattered relationship, when you know another person is still harboring resentment and grief and anger, you have to live with that. Again, this is not comfortable. Ambiguity can be miserable. But it’s real. Conjuring up resolution and repair—like Captain Picard announcing, “Make it so!” and lo, it is done—is not.

So I’m particularly irked by the trend of encouraging self-forgiveness. It’s a notion that has skyrocketed in the last few decades (look at this geeky chart I made, in Google Ngrams, analyzing how frequently the word has appeared in books published between 1908 and 2008, the most recent year for which stats were available!)—and a quick spin through the internet finds a lot of rabbis’ Yom Kippur sermons focused on this notion. I’d argue that self-forgiveness is actually something we have way too much of.

First of all, self-forgiveness as a preoccupation isn’t very Jewish. We’re a people that do guilt. We don’t let go easily. We don’t forget. The notion of simply releasing your emotional burdens feels like a very modern-day American, hippie-dippy concept: Let it go. C’mon, man, lighten up. You gotta be kind to yourself. Put yourself first. Take a mental-health day. Meditate on that. Yeah, no.

In my experience, the reason we see so many lousy apologies at SorryWatch is that people are actually entirely too eagerto forgive themselves. They want bad feelings to be the other person’s fault, not the lingering result of the shame they rightly feel. We all yearn to blame someone else for the situation we’re in the position of apologizing for: Hey, I was provoked! I’ve been working too hard and was exhausted! You don’t understand my sense of humor! You’re too sensitive! Some of my best friends are black/gay/trans/Muslim, and they weren’t offended! Mistakes were made!

And I worry that self-forgiveness is actually a harmful, destructive, self-justifying force that keeps us from apologizing to others. Indeed, psychologists who’ve studied the relatively new concept of self-forgiveness have found that as a mental health tool, it’s a mixed bag. Research indicates that while forgiving yourself can help relieve your uncomfortable feelings, it can also reduce empathy for others and motivation to apologize. Why? Because our puny, weak, self-justifying human brains will grab onto any excuse to not have to face others with evidence of our flaws. In the book Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson look at precisely why it’s so hard to apologize to others. To some degree, it’s because we desperately want to believe that we’re good people, and good people are in the right, so we try to twist facts to make them conform to a version of reality that tells a story that makes us right. (Or at the very least, provoked.) Because if we’re good, and we do something not good, well, Holy Cognitive Dissonance, Batman! “To reduce dissonance,” Tavris and Aronson write, “most of us put an enormous amount of mental and physical energy into protecting ourselves and propping up our self-esteem when it sags under the realization that we have been foolish, gullible, mistaken, corrupted, or otherwise human.” This, I think, is why we jump more quickly to self-forgiveness rather than apology. We don’t need rabbis urging us to forgive ourselves when we’re pretty darn excellent at doing it all on our own.

But humans are flawed. It’s normal. We screw up. We need to embrace that fact and use it as motivation to apologize to others rather than stubbornly refusing to own up to our responsibility.

There’s an argument to be made that feeling bad is good for us—at least when the bad feelings lead to action instead of a narcissistic, inward-turning, Eeyore-like self-concept that says there’s no point in apologizing because everything is depressing and bad and the apology probably won’t help anyway. (Oh, bother.) A 2005 study in the journal Self and Identity asked 138 undergrads to think about times they’d offended others. The study found that being unable to get out of your own head wasn’t helpful, but neither was being reluctant to accept responsibility thanks to your own ego. “Feelings of self-condemnation were associated with maladjustment, as shown in prior studies,” the authors write. “However, participants reported more prosocial responses (repentance and a sense of being humbled) if they accepted responsibility, experienced remorse, and found that reducing negative feelings required effort.” The authors suggested that future studies look at the difference between remorse and self-condemnation. The former is a positive, pro-social feeling that makes you want to make amends; the latter is paralyzing and can lead to depression and anxiety. It’s a good distinction. (Hey, rabbis, you still have time to rewrite those sermons!)

Along those lines, a 2014 study in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that self-forgiveness is most effective if we make amends first to the person we’ve hurt. This study asked 269 participants to think about actual offenses they’d committed in their lives. They were then asked whether they’d apologized and committed restitution, whether they felt the other person had forgiven them, whether they forgave themselves, and whether they found self-forgiveness in this case “morally appropriate.” Basically, the harder they worked to make amends, the better they felt about self-forgiveness. And when the other person actually told them they were forgiven, they felt even better about self-forgiveness. They needed the external impetus.

This High Holiday season, maybe think twice about the whole self-forgiveness thing. Taking the brave, vulnerable step of apologizing to others—for specific offenses, with specific words that indicate you know the specific impact of what you did and with specific promises to be better in the future—is menschier.


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