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The Rabbi on the Beach @ The Shul on the Beach

Green Post

Green.

It used to be an innocent color. Now, it means so much more.

Previously, I talked about the Torah approach to Earth Day. Today, I am going to take a brief dip into Green Politics. Normally, I steer clear of politics. One exception was when I wrote about Political Discrimination. Now that technology gives us the ability to figure out who believes in what politics, it is possible to discriminate against people whom you never knew, because of their politics.

My general opinion in politics is Read the rest of this entry »

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Structure and Philosophy of Torah 2 | Connections 5/4/09

Happy Lag B’Omer.

We had a great turnout this week despite the fact that we lost some attendees to Lag B’Omer celebrations this week.

This week Connections was the second of a series of classes about the history, philosophy, structure and benefits to Torah study.

In preparation for Shavuos, when the Jewish people accepted the Torah, this was the perfect time for the series.

Tonight we did a quick review of last week, though listening online would be a better option. You will get the full picture that way.

Our journey this week took us from the writing of the Mishna through the the beginnings of the formation of the Talmud.

There was a great discussion about “machlokes” and the differing opinions among Tanaic and Amoraic literature.

To be continued next week. See you there (or here).

Click through to listen to the class.

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Mesillas Yesharim 05/10/09

Moving right along in Chapter 5

We quickly reviewed last week and continued until we wrapped up category number 1 of “things to avoid’ so as not to hinder our “Zehirus”.

The main idea is to avoid overwhelming oneself in materiality.

Also, a discussion ensued regarding our natural resistance to morality. It’s like a magnet pulling us towards our instincts.

It was a great class with super pace and as always great questions.

Click through to listen online.

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How To Avoid “Holier-Than-Thou” Syndrome

I saw a very interesting column in the New York Times today.

The column presents some evidence that a large chasm exists between what an individual will claim they would do in a given situation and what one would actually do in that given situation.

In other words our actions betray our feelings of righteousness. (How funny is it that the columnist’s named is Benedict? well, it made me smile…).

As I was reading the article, which I highly recommend I kept thinking: Why is this idea so natural to me? Where else have I seen this?

The answer was really obvious.

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The Speed of History

I stumbled upon this video on Facebook.

Once in a while I see a video that really makes me think. This is a video that makes me think.

Once in a while I see a video that reinforces a Torah idea that I heard or read. This is video that does just that.

After you watch the video I want to share a deep insight I heard about history. The video emphasizes the point so check out the video first. You can watch the video right here on the blog.

Just press play!

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Structure and Philosophy of Torah | Connections 5/4/09

This week Connections was the first of a series of classes about the history, philosophy, structure and benefits to Torah study.

In preparation for Shavuos, when the Jewish people accepted the Torah, this was the perfect time to begin the series.

This class is the foundation for the next few classes so I highly recommend checking it out. The reviews of the class were great and we hope more people will join us next week.

Our discussion ranged from history of the Jewish people, the connection between the spiritual and material world, astrology and much, much more.

Looking forward to next week. See you there (or here).

Click through to listen to the class right now.

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Mesillas Yesharim 05/03/09

Mesillas Yesharim was electric today!

The 5th Chapter is all about avoiding the things that may hinder our ability to be “watchful”. We need to know what we are doing before we can improve our actions. We need to avoid traps that will take our minds off of watching what we are doing.

This is in the spirit of “Sur Merah, Vaaseh Tov” – Psalms 34. First we must turn away from evil and then we go towards good.

Ramchal gives us 3 things to avoid. We began the first of these today.

During the class we had 3 really great discussion.

Our first discussion was about the distance from our heads to our hearts and Tefillin.

The second discussion was about working for a living. The Torah approach is that one should earn a living to take care of our material needs and set aside time for Torah study to take care of our spiritual needs.

We ended with a lengthy discussion about absolute truth. Our Rabbis teach us that one can only become righteous and moral if they study Torah. What is the meaning behind this? Why is intellectual information a prerequisite for moral growth?

Click through to find out.

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Genius: The Modern View and the Torah View

The most emailed column on NYTimes.com today is this column on genius. In this Op-Ed column, from David Brooks the old question of nature vs. nurture is raised.

Are there people born with elevated talents and skill or are some people the lucky ones who were in the right place at the right time and were nurtured into their high level abilities?

I am not sure what compelled Mr. Brooks to write this column, it seems random and disconnected from today’s news.
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The Non-Virtual Social Network

Last week, my Shabbos morning Drasha (sermon) sought to give meaning to the Torah’s laws regarding evil speech and gossip. As punishment for these social crimes an individual would contract a spiritual disease that was similar in appearance to leprosy. Once the disease was was diagnosed by the halachic authority (Kohen) as the spiritually caused leprosy the individual would need to leave the town and stay outside the city for a little while.

The crime was social and the punishment was social. By speaking ill of others the individual became separated from the fabric of society and could only learn this lesson once physically removed from the social environment.

We touched a number of other points and expanded this point further as well.

The upshot of the Drasha was to remind everyone of the importance of tolerance and that we must embrace our interdependence on one another. The perfect Torah society will be a perfect social society.

I contrasted this with the society I noticed in the ESPN.com poll which I blogged about last week. (If you have not seen that yet – check it out.)

I am always asked for “examples” of how we can improve our behavior or work on ourselves. In this context I was asked, “how can we make our society more interdependent?”. I am very reluctant to dispense such advice.

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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.

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