Pacific Jewish Center | Rabbi

The Rabbi on the Beach @ The Shul on the Beach

Officially a Rabbi

Today I officiated my first wedding. Back when I was a campus Rabbi at USC I met with an incredible young man named Bradley. Bradley joined us for Shabbat meals several times and attended a number of our learning programs as well. When I left USC Bradley and I remained connected through Facebook but that was it. One day about 3 months ago Bradley calls me up and asks me if I remember him – of course I remembered him! Anyway we got to talking and Bradley asked me if I could help him and his bride-to-be-Jackie “prepare” for their upcoming nuptials. I recommended they pick up a couple of copies of a wonderful book called “Two Halves of a Whole”. The book provides a sound approach to successful marriage communication from the Jewish perspective. We had weekly phone meetings and uncovered quite a few of the secrets to a Jewish and successful marriage. I also arranged for Jackie to meet with Bracha Zaret for a female perspective on Jewish marriage and as always Bracha hit a home-run. Jackie and Bradley were really excited for the wedding and their upcoming marriage. In addition to providing marriage guidance I was asked to officiate the wedding. I agreed because I wanted their wedding to be 100% Kosher and I did not think they had any other observant options. Luckily for me my father has been Mesader Kiddushin (that’s Hebrew for officiate a wedding) and gave me a primer in the laws of the Jewish Wedding. I also spoke with a local Rav named Rabbi Sauer who helped me with the nuances of a Los Angeles Kesubah. Well, the wedding was today and Bradley and Jackie are now married. The ceremony was easy compared to the writing and signing of the Kesubah. We managed to get it all done and now we wish Mazel Tov to Bradley and Jackie Olin.

I must express my gratitude to Bradley and Jackie for giving me this opportunity. One the one hand it was enjoyable and education for me to actually officiate the wedding. Perhaps even more importantly it helped remind me of my wedding and shed some light on my marriage. So Bradley and Jackie – Thank you! The most

Filed under: All Posts, Musings & Observations, , ,

Messilas Yesharim 12/28

We began the Ramchal’s chapter describing the characteristic of “watchfulness”. The main thrust of the section is that it is necessary to think about our actions that we normally take in advance of the actions occurring. So we prepare for life’s challenges by thinking about the potential challenges we will have and the past challenges we have had. After we are mentally prepared for all situations and circumstances we can be confident that we will prevail in those challenges that we encounter. Ramchal compares being unprepared for life’s challenges to a blind man walking along a river bank. The danger is near and the chance of catastrophe is greater than the chance of survival. I think it is clear that we must be watchful and to do this we need to begin by analyzing the situations life throws at us before they happen. There was also a discussion about how to cope with daily issues and we tried to use R’ Wolbe’s ideas about Seder. R’ Wolbe’s main idea is that Seder is a system / routine that we live by so that in case of a challenge we have a framework from which to react. In other words – the Seder is not for the sake of Seder rather it is for clarity when we need it.

The class was shortened due to the long davening for Rosh Chodesh Chanukah. (20 minutes)

Download

Filed under: All Posts, Classes, Messilas Yesharim, , , , , , ,

Yosef and the Light of (Economic) Wisdom and Kindness – Drasha Miketz

Thank you to community member Milton Simon for editing these Shabbos speeches given at the Pacific Jewish Center from my notes into these articles.

It is no coincidence that Shabbos Chanukah always coincides with Parshas Miketz. There are many ways to look at this fact and we will attempt to work out one idea today.

The narrative of this week’s Parsha discusses the impending famine that was to sweep the entire middle east. Egypt was the financial capital of the world and this was a very critical time for them as a country. If they would fail the world in this time of need then the entire world would fall with them. Egypt needed to succeed and Yosef had a plan to keep Egypt afloat. He predicted the famine when he interpreted the dream that Pharaoh had but he also, surprisingly provided a solution at the same time.

Yosef’s solution was to tax the country a 1/5th agriculture tax and to store the grain in federal depositories. In addition there was to be no exporting of grain during the years of plenty that were to precede the famine. R’ Hirsch explains that in years of abundance human nature is to eat double, and during years of financial difficulty human nature is to eat half of what one normally intakes. Hence in years of high quantity one would eat four times what one eats in a famine year. So, in Torah terms the 1/5th formula ensured that even in the famine years there would be enough to go around.

Yosef was appointed the chief executive officer for this monumental project. He INSTANTLY ascended the ranks of Egyptian royalty up to the second in command to the Pharaoh. What was so incredible about his idea (or Yosef himself) that  Pharaoh elevated him to this status? How did Yosef spin this simple idea into something worthy of such incredible promotion? What is the secret behind Yosef’s idea?

I think we can all relate to the times that the Egyptian people now feared they were about to go through. The Nile had delivered prosperity to the Egyptians year after year. The economy was flourishing and NOW it was all about to come to a halt. The famine would come and the Egyptian economy w ould suffer and ultimately the world economy would suffer as well. It almost reads like the Wall Street Journal summary of 2008! We live in a time of financial uncertainty. The prosperity America has known for nearly ¾ of a century may be coming to halt. The world economy, which has come to rely on our economy, is in fear of a major collapse. Are there lessons here to be learned?

Let us turn to the Chanukah story. After defeating the Syrian Greeks, the Maccabees return to the Temple victorious. They wish to light the menorah and they cannot find any pure oil. All the oil has been defiled by the Greeks. What are they to do? Miraculously they find a tiny oil jug forlorn in the corner. The jug is so small it only holds enough oil for one day. The Greeks overlooked the jug because it was inconsequential. It was an afterthought. Like when you have a little but of honey left in the honey bear – you don’t sit around waiting for the last drops to come out – you buy a new honey bear! This jug was the end of the oil it was just like the end of that honey bear.
R’ Pam points out that normally in times of prosperity we would throw away that honey bear with the last few drops and normally one would discard the tiny oil jug. But it was not thrown away. The small jug of oil was cherished and was kept even though it had so little inside it. This the Torah way. We value our resources. In good times and not such good times we need to be mindful of what we have and we need to put it to good use. The Jewish people of the time which the Chanukah story took place valued the small jug and in turn it came back to save them in their time of need.

This is the message Yosef imparted to the Egyptians. Value what you have – you never know when your situation will change. Use only what you need and be sure not to squander even the smallest amount of you have left over. But20the broader lesson is to use our resources wisely. Allocation of resources, project planning and emergency preparedness. These are the values Yosef was teaching the Egyptians. These are Jewish ideas that a pagan society could possibly be incapable of discovering on their own. These are ideas which are founded in Torah. Yosef knew that his father Yaakov went back across the Yabok River at great risk to himself to rescue his small containers. We know how to appreciate what we have because we recognize it is all a gift.

I recently read an opinion in the NY Times. The writer had just returned to Kennedy Airport from Asia. And he contrasted the two experiences. It was like taking a time travel capsule from Hong Kong where the airport was decked out with the latest in modernity and comfort. A high speed train with high speed internet and static free cell phone service. He commented that leaving that and coming back to Kennedy was like traveling from the Jetsons to the Flintstones. Back home, at the arrivals area in Kennedy the ceilings were low and not well lit. He went to Penn=2 0Station where the elevators are too narrow for a man plus a suitcase. The train is not high speed,  there isn’t any internet access and dropped cell phone calls are the norm. What happened to America? Where is the infrastructure? And then the news hits that GM needs a bailout. What is going on in our country?

My father mentioned to me a recent quote from R’ Riskin. He said that Americans used to want to “do good”, now Americans just want to “do well”. What I have noticed is most of our capable young people and the creative thinkers in our country have been going into finance. Consequently our industry has suffered. This is not a good allocation of resources! We need a Yosef to remind us how to use our talents, abilities, time and money the right way. Our country needs to go back to building better products, not figuring out ways to leverage money into more money. Until we start creating better products our economy will be unable to recover.

But there is hope – today is Rosh Chodesh. A new month. A time for rebirth. We can start again. We just need to believe it is all possible. Sometimes to develop that belief we need to be reminded of what the ultimate level of proper allocation of resources actually should be.

I want to conclude by returning to our Parsha for a moment. Yosef sent his brothers back home with money in their sacks as well as Yosef’s golden cup. Yosef sends the police to apprehend the framed thieves. The police search the brothers’ bags and find the missing golden cup in Binyamin’s sack. The brothers are caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Yosef demands that Binyamon return to Egypt to face a jail sentence. They are fo rced to return to Egypt or else they will end up returning back to Yaakov without Binyamin.

Yosef organized this scheme to incriminate the brothers so that he could arrest Binyamin. But why was the golden cup necessary? The Rosh is bothered by this – why not just arrest them for stealing the money? The Rosh answers beautifully. Yosef had instituted an incredible policy. Whenever a very destitute family came to buy food he would have his officers return the money. In fact this happened repeatedly. The policy was to return the money if the family needed it desperately. Therefore there was no way he could have the brothers arrested for taking the money – it was a common occurrence for him to return money to those who needed it most!

This is the kind of economy (both of Yosef’s innovations)  that can survive tough times is one that combines allocation of resources and sensitivity to the needy. We must use what we have properly, respect what we are given, appreciate what we are blessed with and most importantly we must exercise sensitivity to others. If we use our talents to produce great products, produce cutting edge infrastructure and modern facilities we will see our country reborn (without forgetting our duties as custodians of God’s earthly resources).

The lessons of Yosef and the little jug of oil are an eternal inspiration for us as we traverse these hard times. Let us take those lessons and do our part in helping our country pull itself back together. And in the same vain when we are trying to build our community let us use our resources properly and maximize our impact on the community.

Filed under: All Posts, Shabbos on the Beach,

Bob Costas and “Controlling your own destiny”

This is an interesting tidbit from Bob Costas.

“If it’s destiny or fate folks, you can’t control it! Control the outcome, control the result but you can’t control destiny or fate.” – Bob Costas

A great observation on his part and consistent with the prevalent perspective in America. If it is destiny you can’t control it. I guess one can question whether there is any destiny in “Sports”. Another thing that struck me is that our belief, as Jews, is that we actually do control fate and we can control our destiny. When we act we change destiny and fate. When we exercise our moral free will and make good choices we change to future of our world and the entire world.

Thinking that things are predetermined makes us powerless and can have a very negative affect on us. If I can’t help myself from acting then I am not blameworthy for my actions. We believe we are in complete control of our moral choices. Those moral choices determine our fate and nothing else.

This is incredibly empowering and gives us a tremendous responsibility to impact the destiny of the world in a positive way.

Filed under: All Posts, Musings & Observations, My Links, , , , , , ,

Madoff’s alleged misdeeds spark feelings of betrayal, outrage in L.A.’s Jewish community – Los Angeles Times

Madoff’s alleged misdeeds spark feelings of betrayal, outrage in L.A.’s Jewish community – Los Angeles Times.

This LA Times article actually encompasses the points I made yesterday in my post about a similar NY Times article.

Except there are still some Jewish elitists who “disown” Madoff (the first “Rabbis” mentioned in the article”). Rabbi Adlerstein and Harriet Rossetto echoed my sentiments of learning from the incident and Madoff’s opportunity for Tshuva.

Rossetto even goes so far to say that maybe Madoff is the messenger teaching us to redefine our values. That is a good approach. That is a healthy approach.

Divorcing ourselves from Madoff by saying “Madoff does not represent the Jewish people, not even remotely” is useless and inaccurate. Firstly, no one represents the Jewish people, we each represent ourselves. Secondly, that kind of disownment is not our place as humans and fellow Jews. He is still a Jew and yes he made mistakes but haven’t we all?

Filed under: All Posts, Musings & Observations, My Links, , , ,

Intro to Talmud 2

This is a follow up post to a previous entry.

We concluded our two day session on the Talmud and the study of Talmud. The class ran a bit overtime so the audio is a bit longer.

Issues touched upon included why some sections of Mishna have Talmud on them and some do not, why Talmud study is useful, why we study Talmud with a teacher or study partner, how Talmud has been commented on and explained over the last 1500 years.

There are some great anecdotes and insightful questions during the session as well.

Recommended listening! (70 minutes)

Download

Filed under: All Posts, Classes, , , , ,

In Madoff Scandal, Jews Feel an Acute Betrayal – NYTimes.com

In Madoff Scandal, Jews Feel an Acute Betrayal – NYTimes.com

This NY Times article raises some interesting issues. Firstly, does Madoff reflect on “Jews” – are we all judged as a nation / religion by the actions of individuals? Is it anti-semitism when non-Jews express displeasure with the actions of Jews who act like idiots? Is there really no teshuva for Madoff? the last “rabbi” quoted seems to thing the Madoff is doomed to hell with no chance for redemption. Last I checked teshuva was always an option.

Besides all those questions what really irked me about this article was the self-righteousness of these non-observant Jews looking down from their pedestal of morality on Madoff. He is not excommunicated from the Jewish people because he is a thief! He is a Jewish thief and he is still our brother. He needs his people now more than ever to be sympathetic to his dire situation. He is not excused but we are not allowed to judge him either. Everyone does things that are wrong, everyone fails a moral challenge along the way. We are no different from Madoff. His sins do have grander repercussions and resonate more strongly throughout the world but at the end of the day he is just another person who messed up.

It is useless to paint him as a non-Jewish Jew because of his mistakes. As Jews we believe that mistakes are inevitable, it is how we dael with those mistakes that defines us. Not a bunch of “Rabbis” telling the NY Times that Madoff isn’t really Jewish because he is a crook!

Filed under: All Posts, Musings & Observations, My Links, , , ,

Pacific Jewish Center Chanukah Party 2008

Jeff Liss did a tremendous job organizing and preparing the annual PJC Chanukah Party.

The kids and adults had a great time and we all thank Jeff for a job well done.

Tonight was a Connections night and I was on the program and I had to compete with the magician upstairs…

The question posed was as follows. The more significant miracle of Chanukah is the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks in the physical and spiritual war in which they found themselves. There was another miracle of a small jug of oil lasting 8 days instead of 1 day. Why is the mitzvah of Chanukah to light candles connected to the miracle of the oil which is less important than the war? Why don’t we commemorate the war with a mitzvah? Secondly, why was a miracle of oil necessary? God does not just show off His abilities to perform miracles, there must a reason why the oil needed to last until new pure oil was available… What was so important about the oil burning for 8 days?

By the end of the talk we had answered those questions and touched on some relevant topics. Including the special qualities of fire and how to win a moral war in a spiritual wasteland.

Enjoy!

Download

Filed under: All Posts, Classes, Connections, , , , , , , , ,

Intro to Talmud 1

Today I gave a lecture for a local Aish Campus retreat. My friends Rabbi Bloom and Rabbi Quinn run Aish Campus in Los Angeles and they invited me to give a 2 part lecture on the Introduction to and Philosophy of Talmud.

Today we had a very engaging session with a lot of great questions. We covered some very interesting ideas which are central to Torah study and understanding how our forefathers kept Torah before it was given to the world at Sinai many years later…

Just click the audio player to listen to the lecture (40 minutes).

Download

Part 2 is posted here.

Filed under: All Posts, Classes, , , , , , , ,

Outliers: Section 1 (and my grandfather)

So I began reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell this weekend. I finished the first section and have an opinion about it. The book’s basic premise is that success is a conglomeration of a lot of factors. Some factors are innate, some factors and communal and some factors are just plain luck.

I think a lot of what he says is compelling, in fact I made such an observation a few years ago. In the wake of my grandfather’s death (whose name was Sidney Greenwald) a few years ago much was said about his impact on the world. He touched so many people in so many different ways. He was a builder for so many Jewish institutions and causes. He accomplished so much and anyone who knew him would tell you this.

I always felt that his success was due to his great skill and ability but had a lot to do with the time and place in which he found himself. At that time, mid-20th century, Orthodox Judaism was beginning its renaissance and resurgence in America. It was a time that was perfect for someone with his abilities to shine. He certainly took advantage of his opportunities and made the most of them. But those opportunities do not present themselves to anyone and everyone.

I think people are able to accomplish a great deal with their talents and abilities. The opportunities need to present themselves to make it happen. Sometimes we can create the opportunities and other times we can look opportunities. But many times we just have to wait for the opportunities and be ready to pounce those opportunities when they present themselves.

So I guess I must agree with Gladwell on that point. Timing does make a big difference. The part that I had a harder time digesting was the suggestion that we are all victims of early tracking with no hope to escape the reputation we build for ourselves. Education in this country is suffering but the opportunities for a student who wants to succeed are endless. We suffer more from lack of caring and effort than the tracking in our education system. There are some victims of the tracking but most are victims of their own lack of interest in learning and bad teaching than anything else. The danger of Gladwell’s idea is that it gives excuses to people who are not productive. People don’t need more excuses to do nothing…

I am looking forward to finishing the book soon.

Filed under: All Posts, Musings & Observations, , , ,

Messilas Yesharim 12/21

Ramchal continues his chapter on the role of man in this universe. Ramchal argues that no sensible person could really believe that the purpose of creation is for our existence in this world. If you think about it, an intelligent creator would not possibly crate the world that we live in as the primary place of existence. People suffer much of their lives and no one dies with their desires and dreams completely fulfilled. The system is constantly in break down mode! No one actually gets what they want. Further argues Ramchal there would no point in creating a soul which does not get any pleasure from our physical world. It seems like cruel joke on the soul! The soul was happy to stay in a spiritual place – why burden the soul with being created in to a physical world?! The only explanation that is sensible is that the soul and all of creation is truly created for its existence in the post physical eternal spiritual world. There the soul can enjoy the benefits of all it accomplished in this world. The soul is thus willing to go through the travails of this physical world in order to gain the pleasure of the next world. The way that the soul earns that pleasure is by perfecting the physical imperfect body that it inhabits. The way we achieve that perfection is by the performance of Mitzvahs. Practicing mitzvahs gives our souls the key it needs for entry into the next world where it can enjoy its place in the spiritual realms.

This soul talk prompted some lively discussion regarding the nature of the soul. The soul has a mission and while it is here it is our body’s job to assist the soul in accomplishing that mission. When the mission is accomplished the soul remains in its eternal home for eternity. If the mission is incomplete then the part of the soul that has not achieved what it was meant to do returns to the physical world. The cycle continues until the soul has done its job to completion. The current souls are all fragments of the original souls which appeared at Sinai for the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people and the rest of the world. The Jewish soul was infused with its mission at that time and therefore the Jewish soul originated at the point which that mission was delivered.

To us humans the soul is an enigma but if we are confident in the existence of the soul then Ramchal makes a strong argument that our ultimate purpose it greater than just the physical life in which we find ourselves.

Click below to listen to the entire class (45 minutes)

Download

Filed under: All Posts, Classes, Messilas Yesharim, , , , , , ,

A Good Man Never Rests – Drasha Vayeshev

Thank you to community member Milton Simon for editing these Shabbos speeches given at the Pacific Jewish Center from my notes into these articles.

The Torah tells us in this week’s parsha, “Vayeshev Yaakov b’eretz megurei aviv b’eretz Canaan” Yaakov and his entire family returned to the land of his parents – the land of Canaan. Yaakov has successfully survived the life-threatening conflict with Eisav after preserving his integrity after his father-in-law Lavan has tried to cheat and swindle him during his 20 years of labor. Amazingly, Yaakov developed tremendous wealth despite all of Lavan’s best efforts.

One can imagine a very successful retiree going back to his roots to ride off into the sunset. Yaakov raised 13 children, he had 2 wives plus 2 quasi wives to keep happy. Yaakov has worked very hard to be able to now enjoy his last days basking in the glory of his life’s work. If it were us that is what we would do.

In fact Rashi brings the Medrash Rabba which states that when a Tzaddik has earned a lion’s share of riches in the “world to come” and they ALSO desire to live out their wealthy retirement days in peace and quiet before they die, the Satan (he is the prosecuting angel) complains. He says – “Is it not enough that the Tzaddik will live out his eternal life in Olam haba (afterlife) but he also wants to enjoy a tranquil existence in this world?” The Satan’s complaint “forced” G-d to prove Satan’s complaint unfounded, and this is what happened with Yaakov – just as he is ready to relax the entire incident of Yosef’s kidnapping and sale into slavery occurs. Now Yaakov sits for many years in pain and anguish over his lost son.

Rav Schwab asks the obvious question on this Midrash. What power (why should G-d listen to him?) does the Satan have to stop a Tzaddik from living out his days in peace and tranquility? Leave the poor man alone! Especially when the man is a Yaakov Avinu and his plan is learn Torah day and night!

Avraham, Yaakov’s grandfather took it upon himself to spread the goodness of the Creator to the masses. Avraham made it his life’s mission to inform anyone and everyone that the world has a Master and He has an opinion about how we are to live our lives. Everything Avraham did reflected this mission. His “guest service” was a tool to introduce people to the idea of a single living and loving G-d, and he was rather successful in this endeavor.

As the possuk in Lech Lecha says: Avraham built a mizbeyach (alter) and called out to G-d. Onkelos translates this calling out to G-d as prayer. Ramban disagrees. Ramban learns that the words mean what they say. Avraham literally called out the name G-d to the world. When he was in Ur Kasdim, Avraham was unable to influence anyone due to the prevailing idol worship culture and a dictator in Nimrod who killed all non-idol worshipers. But now Avraham was blessed with “V’avarech Avarechecha” he proclaimed G-d’s existence to the masses and his voice was heard. Ramban continues and says that G-d promised Avroham’s son, Yitzchak that He would be with him and Yitzchak also built a mizbeyach and called out to G-d. Yitzchak was keeping the family tradition alive by proclaiming G-d’s glory to all. Ramban says that we don’t find this anywhere for Yaakov.

Yaakov took a subtler route. Yaakov had children. Yaakov produced a large family which he trained in the ways of G-d. By default they transmitted the message of their grandfather Yitzchak and their great grandfather Avraham to the world. And we continue this mission to this very day.

Rav Schwab adds that Yaakov did actually build mizbeyach but his calling out was personal. He named places with names that reflected a recognition of G-d but (what are you trying to say here?) his influence was certainly palpable. Yaakov wanted to influence the world through his family and this is what is meant by Yaakov seeking peace and tranquility at the end of his days.

On this there is a legitimate complaint the Satan could make. Yaakov should be spreading the word to everyone not just his family. He has limited his exposure to the masses and thereby limited the influence that he could have. This was unacceptable. Yaakov had the responsibility to carry on the tradition of his father and grandfather and bring the masses of people closer to G-d. This was the flaw in Yaakov’s plan.

And it is for this that Yaakov suffered at the hand of the sale of Yosef to Egypt. Yosef goes down to Mitzrayim (Egypt) and affects the masses of mankind, and the “old” Yaakov eventually follows and with 70 family members in tow. They as a group are could have carried out a tremendous influence on the masses, but it was Yosef alone who took the lead.

Yaakov would no longer be able to sit back and raise his family in isolation and avoid the outside world. It fell to Yosef (and eventually his brothers) to influence the world around them. The message of the “fathers” was very clear, be a light to the world, do good and spread Torah and the ways of G-d.

When my great-grandfather Reb Elyah Lopian retired from his post in England as a Torah leader where he served as the Rosh Yeshiva in Etz Chaim he wished to emigrate to the land of Israel. He was 76 years old at the time. He was an accomplished Torah scholar. He had been Rosh Yeshiva at a number of yeshivas already. He had a very large family and desired to live out his days in Eretz Yisrael. He wanted to learn from the Torah of the great scholars of Israel and he looked forward to taking a secondary, less public role to focus on personal growth and Torah study. Reb Elyah was very reluctant to take public speaking roles as his goal was to remain out of the public eye while in the land of Israel.

Reb Elyah had an audience with the Chazon Ish who was the Gadol Hador (the leader of the Jewish religious world, d. 1954). The Chazon Ish asked him what he planned on doing in Israel, Reb Elyah explained that his desire was to learn and imbibe of the Torah of the gedolim (great sages) who were living there. He was convinced that at his age it would not be realistic to seek a position such as a mashgiach or spiritual mentor for teenagers. The Chazon Ish responded with a blessing from Tehillim in our Shir Shel Yom for Shabbos. Od yenuvun bseiva dsheinim veraananim yihyu, which means “they shall yield fruit in a ripe old age.

The mishna in Avos explains that seiva refers to the stage of life where man is in his seventies. The Chazon Ish then added, lehagid ki yashar Hashem, “to proclaim the righteousness of G-d” – yes, he said, at your age you are to be a teacher. Reb Elyah heeded the advice of the Chazon Ish and became the mashgiach in Kfar Chassidim for the next 22 years! His hundreds of Talmidim are ever grateful to the Chazon Ish.

The story echoes of our parsha’s story. There is no rest for the Tzaddik. We can always make a difference.

I know that our community has already accomplished great things in outreach. I know of the many religious families that exist today only due to our influence. You can say confidently – “I did my fair share, it is time for me to take it easy.” To that I say no! You are too great to take it easy. There are people in your neighborhood who are waiting to be invited by you, waiting for you to reach out to them. Bring them to our events. Bring them Monday night to the Chanuka party, bring them every Monday night, bring them to shul on Friday night, bring them to shul on Shabbos morning. Bring them over to me. Let me make a connection with them and give them another reason to come back in all senses of the word.

Together we can do it. We have done it in the past and it is time to get back in the game. We have a variety of opportunities for our neighbors to learn more – let’s reach out to them and give them those opportunities. There is so much energy here ready to be unleashed. We have the infrastructure in place what we need now is the raw material. Don’t ride off into the sunset. Bring Torah to your community by bringing them to the Torah and love for Torah and love for our fellow Jews that we offer at the Pacific Jewish Center.

We can make lay claim to the title Pacific Jewish CENTER – the center for Jewish life in Venice. But only if we make it into a “center” by doing the outreach we are capable of doing.

Filed under: All Posts, Shabbos on the Beach, , , , , , ,

Happy Hanukah Too: Kosher Machine Only Serves 24/6 Because It’s Shomer Shabbos

Happy Hanukah Too: Kosher Machine Only Serves 24/6 Because It’s Shomer Shabbos.

On a gadget blog commentors get a full on education about Shabbos!

It is incredible how many people know about Shabbos and now have a grasp of some of the concepts. Eventually we are going to do a Shabbos Connections with community wide Shabbos participation and invitations. Until then I guarantee if you want a Shabbos meal just stop in the Shul on the Beach during services. You will be invited by someone!

Filed under: All Posts, Musings & Observations, My Links, , , , , ,

Adolf Hitler Campbell can’t get a birthday cake

Here’s a good one…

We just named our baby and honestly a lot of thought goes into it!

This family decided a good name for their bundle of sweetness and joy is ADOLF HITLER Campbell! Imagine this kid going through life with a name like that!

Sometimes you wonder if these people even think about what they are doing!?

Well it seems that they certainly know what they are doing – another one their other children is named “Aryan Nation” and this photo gallery indicates their feelings towards Nazism…

UPDATE

Filed under: All Posts, My Links, , , , , ,

Malcolm Gladwell and “Perfection”

In a twist of fate I was sent this link by PJC member Judd Magilnick.

Malcolm Gladwell is a great writer and has had a great influence on my thinking. Perhaps the greatest secular influence on me of all! I have not yet had a chance to read his new book “Outliers” however I have read this NY Times OP-ED piece.

I am not necessarily agreeing with the writer’s assessment of Gladwell’s position rather I am commenting on the writer’s position in relationship to “Perfection”.

The astute will notice that this is exactly the point we made in our “Perfections” discussion. Success in not predetermined, it is our hands and our task to be vigilantly improving ourselves. Of course there are elements that are outside of our control such as location of birth, IQ, default personality traits etc. but none of those can stand in the face of our will to succeed!

I guess Malcolm Gladwell (in the writer’s view) and Rabbi Akiva will have to just agree to disagree…

Filed under: All Posts, Connections, Musings & Observations, My Links, , ,

This Is My Blog

You have arrived at a place in cyberspace featuring the thoughts, ramblings, musings and Torah of Eliyahu Fink.

If you like what you have found come join us at the The Shul on the Beach. You know the Shul on the Venice boardwalk - you've seen it, right?

Scroll down to the bottom of this sidebar to see some of my pictures of the Pacific Jewish Center just before sundown on a Friday Evening.

Well, we are there every Friday Night and Saturday Morning for services.

Come check us out! You will feel something special in the air. I guarantee it.

Ask The Rabbi

If you have any questions for the Rabbi please click here to privately and confidentially send me your question.

Please include, gender, religion, level of observance and age in your question.

All questions will be answered!

- Eliyahu Fink

Click For My Facebook Profile


Eliyahu  Fink's Facebook profile

RSS My Facebook Posted Articles

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Do You Tweet?

Twitter Updates

    Follow Me on Twitter

    Learn More About Me

    December 2008
    S M T W T F S
        Jan »
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  

    Photos of PJC

    IMG_1480



    PJC_5

    PJC_1

    PJC_7

    PJC_6

    PJC_4

    PJC_8

    More Photos