Pacific Jewish Center | Rabbi

The Rabbi on the Beach @ The Shul on the Beach

Onymous Blogging

This post has been cross-posted to DovBear. – more discussion there.

Social Networking has been around for a long time. The term is nearly two centuries old and the concept perhaps 30 times that.

With the internet explosion around the new millennium social networking became all the rage on the world wide web. MySpace and others blazed the trail. Now, blogging, Facebook and Twitter are an integral part of our social landscape.

Naturally, I was drawn to these new age ways of using technology to create social networks. I’ve been on Facebook since its inception five years ago and joined Twitter a while ago and have only recently begun to blog.

Over the last few weeks some incredible things have happened that are direct results of social networking online. Read the rest of this entry »

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Outreach on the Beach 6/14/09

Sunday was the launch of a new initiative at Pacific Jewish Center.

First, some matters of introduction.

We are blessed with an incredible location for our Shul.

Our Shul is on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. With thousands of tourists and locals walking along the boardwalk every week, it is a great spot to meet and greet Jewish people from all over the world.

The Shul is on such a perfect spot for meeting new people it would almost be criminal not to be there on Sundays!

This Sunday Read the rest of this entry »

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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Messilas Yesharim 6/6/09

We began Chapter 5 of Messilas Yesharim.

Ramchal begins to define for us the word “Zrizus”.

The basic idea we learned this week was the parallel from Zehirus to Zrizus.

Zehirus helps us avoid morally harmful activity. Zrizus helps us take action to do morally good activity.

We also discussed Sotah and some of the ideas that were mentioned in my Monday Lunch N Learn.

Click through to listen. Read the rest of this entry »

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Human Beings Are Social Beings

I have had my critiques of David Brooks from the NY Times.

But today,  I think he got it right. Really right. Like, 100% right.

He was asked about the “Big Three”. No, not GM, Ford, Chrysler. No, not Harvard, Yale, Princeton. Not, Clemenceau, Wilson, George either.

The new Big Three is Guns, Gays and Abortion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Great Shavuos Turnout Renders Previous Post Moot

Last week I blogged about my bond of kinship with a pastor in Ocean City Maryland.

We both are clergy working on beaches with fickle crowds. Sometimes we are packed and sometimes we are not…

The post generated a bit of a response from some of our Community Members as well as some other blog readers. We had one commenter wonder if anyone reads this blog. (Yes, a lot of people do read this blog.)

We had another commenter offer to walk from Youngstown PA. (It takes 33 days by foot according to Google, click if you need directions.)

So, how did our Shavuos go?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mesillas Yesharim 05/24/09

You may recall that last week we did not get any further in the Messilas Yesharim text.

Oh yes, we had a great discussion about getting serious about life. We devoted much of our discussion to clothes.

Clothes has been a hot topic at the Pacific Jewish Center lately.

Yesterday, we supposed to talk about the number 50 in Judaism and why Shavuos is the only Jewish holiday with no set date. Instead, we talked more about clothes. Unbelievable.

This week we got back on track.

We completed Chapter 5 in Messilas Yesharim and learned about the 3rd and final detriment to “Watchfulness”. Do you want to know what it is?

Click through to listen.

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Boy Can I Relate To This

I was browsing the Washington Post online edition when a column caught my eye.

It is about churches in Ocean City Maryland.

Why is a rabbi reading about Churches in Maryland?

What does the column have to do with a rabbi of the Shul on the Beach in Venice California?

It turns out… a lot. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mesillas Yesharim 05/24/09

After a wonderful Rosh Chodesh morning services we began our weekly foray into the depths of Ramchal’s Mesillas Yesharim.

Last week we began to learn about the detriment of scoffing or sarcasm to out spiritual growth. The general principle is that one who is incapable of seriousness about life will not be able grow spiritually. This week I had planned on completing Chapter 5 in its entirety.

However, we got no further in the text of Mesillas Yesharim this week.

Instead we had a truly invigorating discussion ab0ut “seriousness”. It is tough for us to relate to this section Mesilas Yesharim. We are allowed to make jokes, frivoility is not ALWAYS bad, so how can we bring this section down to earth and make is relevant?

One example that I cited for a moment as we began class was the way observant Jews typically dress. Have you ever wondered why observant Jews dress conservatively for the most part or wear “black and white”?

Much of what we talk about was related to this post, as well as these two posts and this post as well.

Click to listen to our discussion. It was very interesting and enlightening. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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Mesillas Yesharim 05/17/09

This week we ventured further into the detriments to watchfulness.

The last two weeks (catch up here and here) have focused on setting aside time for Torah and spiritual growth. This is to avoid becoming mired in materiality and neglected our spiritual needs.

Today we moved on to the next detriment. The next thing Ramchal teaches us to avoid is an overarching lack of seriousness. Perhaps it could be more precisely defined as immaturity.

Ramchal says that being un able to take things seriously and scoffing anything important is going to impede our growth.

Find out how by clicking below.

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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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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

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