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The Rabbi on the Beach @ The Shul on the Beach

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)

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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!

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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!

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