Pacific Jewish Center | Rabbi

The Rabbi on the Beach @ The Shul on the Beach

Honor Thy Father & Mother | Connections 6/8/09

Another beautiful evening in Venice CA was highlighted by a wonderful Connections.

Everyone was all smiles and we had a great time socializing and learning.

Our Torah topic was the philosophy and moral implications of honoring one’s parents.

We discussed various theories and we ended with the Torah approach.

I recommend listening to this class as the questions and discussion were very interesting and thought provoking.

Click through to listen.

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Structure and Philosophy of Torah 3 | Connections 5/4/09

The third and final class in a very exciting series concluded our preparations for Shavuos.

Catch up by listening to Part 1 and Part 2.

Today we sought to resolve the burning question we began our series with. Why is Talmud study the focus of Torah scholarship? Why do Yeshiva students spend the bulk of their time studying Talmud? Why is Talmud our connection to the Oral Law transmission?

Those questions plus much more are covered in this week’s class.

The participants truly challenged me and asked some really great questions today. As always your attendance and contributions are much appreciated.

Click the link to listen to the class. 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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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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Israel & The Jewish People | Connections 4/27/09

With the upcoming Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim holidays I felt it was a perfect time to discuss the role Israel plays within the Torah system.

For many people Israel serves as a bastion of democracy in the Middle East, for others it is a Jewish homeland where no Jew will be denied access, for others it holds tremendous historical value, there are others who cherish its spiritual significance and there are yet others who pine for the elevated Torah study of the Land of Israel.

Our goal was to find the meaning of the Land of Israel and its connection to the Jewish people from the Torah. We went to the source to find why there is an intrinsic connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.

This relationship did not begin in 1948.

The class ended with some really interesting anecdotes (I don’t want to give anything away – but suffice to say, very interesting stuff) and a few great points from our Connections attendees.

Click through to listen to the class right now.

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The Omer & Channeling Our Materiality | Connections 4/20/09

Tonight, Connections returned.

Our mission: to understand the difference between our Pesach celebration and the Shavuos celebration. More specifically, why is our Pesach celebration of freedom accomplished via the non-descript Matzah and our celebration of receiving the Torah is with a physically pleasurable celebration.

We also learned the Torah way of approaching character development and how to use our natural instincts and tendencies for spirituality.

The evening ended with a few great questions and an important clarification on my part.

It’s all online and you can click through to listen to the class.

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Purim Night! | Connections 3/9/09

Purim Night at the Shul on the Beach was amazing.

On Sunday a number of volunteers from the community distributed Hamentaschen to passersby on the Venice Boardwalk. They met so many interesting Jewish people from Venice / Santa Monica and the rest of the world.

A lot of those people joined us for the Purim Party at the Shul on the Beach Monday night. We hope we will see them again soon!

I spoke briefly and put a bow on all our Purim talks up to this point.

It’s all online and you can click through to listen to the class.

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Yom Kippur and Purim | Connections 3/2/09

As we have learned more and more about Purim many people have danced around the subject of Yom Kippur and Purim.

There is a connection there and tonight we explored that connection. Quoting great Rabbis like the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Yitzchak Blazer and R’ Yitzchak Hutner we went deeper than ever before into the world of Purim.

You will definitely enjoy the class especially if you have been following throughout the Purim series. To catch up you can listen to our first Purim class by clicking here and the second by clicking here. The conclusion of the series will be at the PJC Purim party on Monday night March 9, 2009 at the Shul on the Beach at 7:40 PM. See you then!

In the meantime enjoy this week’s edition.

It’s all online and you can click through to listen to the class.

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Purim, Doubt, Clarity and Amalek | Connections 2/23/09

Last week we began our Purim learning. (Recommended listening)

Tonight we continued our learning about Purim. Often misunderstood and misused, Purim deserves better treatment than that.

We journeyed through the book of Genesis, The Scroll of Esther and the Talmud in search of meaning and reason. Why is Purim named after the lottery that Haman cast? Why did Haman cast a lottery?

We answered a lot of questions tonight. The basic idea is universal but much of it is in the name of Rabbi Shneur Kotler.

Make sure you listen through the end because I forgot to answer one of our questions until one of the attendees reminded me during the questions :).

It’s all online and you can click through to listen to the class.

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Scoffers, Purim and the Measure of a Man | Connections 2/16/09

This week at Connections we began to unlock some of the secrets of Purim.

We began with Amalek the ancient nemesis of the Jewish People. We learned about their essence and how to eradicate that flaw from within ourselves.

One of the most profound ideas I have ever heard was also discussed. How to measure a man. What is the primary factor in determining the value of a person.

We also touched upon drinking on Purim.

Purim will be our theme for the next few weeks, so stay tuned for more!

It’s all online and you can click through to listen to the class.

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New (Old) Audio Class Added

I have just added the first Connections class from early December.

The link to the audio is there as well as the podcasts section to the right…

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The Clothes Make (or break) the Man | Connections 2/2/09

This week at Connections we talk about clothes. Apparently clothes have been on my mind a lot. If you have been reading the blog you may have noticed that the recent posts all had to do with clothes. I commented on the espn.com article about wearing pants while playing basketball and then I commented on the President’s dress code. While I was preparing for the Torah learning portion of Connections this week I was drawn to Tzitzis.

We talked about clothing and the Torah’s associations with clothing. From Adam to Joseph to Saul we find a lot of negativity surrounding their clothing. What do I mean? Well you will have to listen to find out…

We learned about the numbers 6, 7 and 8 in Judaism and eventually we got to Tzitzis. We learned how Tzitzis can help us avoid the danger zone associated with clothing. There was an in depth treatment of how Tzitzis are made and what their construction requirements teach us.

We also talked about the difference between the Nazi form of Anti-Semitism and the Ancient Greek form of Anti-Semitism. The Ancient Greeks wanted us to be like them and forget Torah. The Nazis wanted us destroyed because we not like them.

Click through to listen now.

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You Are What You Eat | Connections 1/26/09

Nowhere is the statement “you are what you eat” more true than in Judaism.

Our topic tonight was the dietary laws of the Torah. Tonight we dispelled many of the myths about kosher. We discussed the origins of the English word Kosher and contrasted that to the Hebrew word for Kosher.

Kosher is survival of the fittest. The fittest food for human consumption. Fit in the sense that it is good for your soul. Soul Food.

We got pretty deep into understanding why food is so important in Judaism and how some of the dietary rules help us avoid “danger zones”.

The discussion ranged from chutes and ladders to sciatica. (no kidding)

There was a very nice crowd tonight and we hope that the class continues to grow. Come next week – and bring a friend!

Click through to listen now.

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One Month Anniversary | Best of the Blog (So Far)

Well it has been one month for me on the blogging trail. I must say, I quite like it. I like the idea of expressing myself to an infinite (sometimes reluctant) audience. If the world stops being interesting to me then the blog posts will probably end. I don’t think that is going to happen so I am fairly certain you will see more of my thoughts over time and this is in addition to the twice weekly podcasts and essays of my speeches.

I have compiled a brief “best of” for those of you who may have missed some previous posts. The word “and” appears in nearly every post title. Hmmmmm…..

Malcolm Gladwell and Outliers

Madoff 1 and Madoff 2

Bob Costas and Destiny

Kobe Bryant and Preparation

The Ravens and Respect

Children and Manners

Winners and Losers

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Inspiration. It’s as easy as 1-2-3! | Connections 1/12/09

We had such a nice program tonight. The event was sponsored by Elizabeth Liber as she moves to New York to attend Stern College. Thank you for your sponsorship and we will miss you!

Our topic tonight was Inspiration. Much of our discussion was rooted in R’ Akiva Tatz’s distillation of some very profound ideas. The main idea revolves around the numbers one, two and three. Listen to the class to find out just what that means! We learned more about the secrets behind the splitting of the sea, why food spoils, how to make a marriage work and “coping” with the load of our daily lives. There was some really great input from the attendees including some science, geometry and philosophical thoughts.

All in all the class was exciting, the questions were thought provoking and everyone in attendance had a really nice time. It makes the preparation and delivery worth the effort when the attendees are so engaging and positive.

I hope you will join us next Monday night for our next “Connections” we would love to see you there!

You can listen to the entire class below (55 minutes)

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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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