Crowd Sourcing Sermon Topic for July 10

From what person or event in Jewish history or in Jewish text tradition do you draw inspiration?

From the new Yom Kippur Prayerbook (p 198)

In the depths of the night, by the edge of the river, Jacob was left alone.
In heartfelt longing, in the temple of God, Channah uttered her prayer alone.
In the barren wilderness, in doubt and despair, Elijah found God alone.
On the holiest day, in the Holy of Holies, the High Priest entered alone.
We are bound to one another in myriad ways, but each soul needs time to itself.
In solitude we meet the solitary One; silence makes space for the still small voice.
For the Psalmist says: “Deep calls unto deep.” For the depths of our soul, we seek what is most profound.
Adonai, s’fatai tiftach, ufi yagid t’hilatecha.  Adonai, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise.

14 Responses to Crowd Sourcing Sermon Topic for July 10

  1. docbzf says:

    The questions and answers in Chapter 4 of Pirkei Avot have always inspired me .

    I am drawn in . . engaged .. by the question-and-answer format, and I am very surprised by the unexpected ethical twist to the tendered answers ;

    Ben Zoma would say : Who is wise ?
    One who learns from every person .

    Who is strong ?
    One who has self-control .

    Who is rich ?
    One who is grateful for his/her portion .

    Who is honorable ?
    One who honors his/her fellow .

  2. docbzf says:

    I changed my mind . . . and behavior . . for the better .

    I changed my mind and behavior because of a teaching in the Holiness Code ( Chapter 19 in Leviticus ) .

    Leviticus 19:13 states : ” The wages of a laborer shall not remain with you until morning ” ( JPS 1985 translation ) .

    At this year’s Shabbat Torah study , Rabbi Kuhn explained that tipping a waitress/waiter IN CASH ( rather than with a credit card ) would be in the spirit of this injunction .

    Since that Shabbat study session , I have tipped in cash .
    I feel good about this action.
    The recipient feels VERY VERY GOOD .

    I always reference Leviticus 19:13 to the waitstaff , and encourage the waitress/waiter to look it up ( or I show it to them via Google it on my iPhone ).

    • Your Antipode says:

      Ahh, but Leviticus 19:14 says “Don’t place a stumbling block…” Are you perhaps enabling a server to not declare his or her tip therefore making him or her a criminal by defrauding the IRS?

    • Lyn Linker says:

      I have left the tip in cash for at least 30 years now, ever since I read that some owners of restaurants keep part of the tips left on credit cards. By giving the server cash on the spot I know that he/she has gotten the full tip that I intended at the time of service.

  3. docbzf says:

    Jewish author Dennis Prager wrote a book entitled ” Happiness Is A Serious Problem .”
    I read this book many years ago , and there learned first of the Jewish concept of the Yetzer Ha-Ra and Yetzer Ha-Tov as constituting ” the nature of human nature ” : not Original Sin , but Original Split ( or Original Swirl ) .

    Dennis Prager also stated his idea that primal needs are insatiable .
    He postulated that every human being has a Primal Need ;
    for men it is often power or money . . . for women often beauty.
    The power of this Primal Need is that the drive is INSATIABLE .

    This idea of unlimited desire has helped me to understand why some moguls constantly strive for . . . more , More , MORE .
    i understand now my own quest for more knowledge . . more books .
    i understand why greed is such a toxic emotion .

  4. docbzf says:

    Please ; Thanks ; Wow ; Oops ,

    What ? What do those four words mean ?

    I call internet sources of Jewish teaching ” Rabbi Google ” , and I have learned from Rabbi Google that
    those four words describe the four basic categories of prayer .

    Most people consider ” prayer ” as petitionary prayer : Please . . I want . . I need . . . give me .

    But at least three other types of prayer exist ;
    1 ; Thanks . . thanksgiving . . Sheh-hech-e-yanu ;

    2 ; Wow ; radical amazement ; Modeh Ani Lefanecha ;

    3 . Oops ; I am sorry ; Ashamnu .

    All of these prayer deepen one’s sensitivity , if they are expressed with true sincerity ( kavannah ) .

  5. docbzf says:

    J and E and P and D
    wrote the B-I-B-L-E .

    or , more precisely , The Torah . . . according to Jewish scholar
    Richard Elliott Friedman , author of the book ” Who Wrote The Bible ? ”
    This text explains very clearly the ( evolving ) Documentary Hypothesis ( multiple authors of the Five Books of Moses ) .

    I have been inspired to comprehend Torah as a thoroughly human document , written by our Ancient Israelite Literati .

    Shabbat Torah study at Rodeph Shalom now becomes truly down-to-earth because I can appreciate the text as Myths , Ideas , Symbols , and Stories .
    I am no longer troubled by some of the inconsistencies contradictions , and duplications in the Torah .

    The text is not juvenile superstitious nonsense , but reflects some of the legends , politics and history of our ancestors .

    The ancient Torah can speak to us today .

  6. docbzf says:

    36 Arguments for the Existence of God .

    ” 36 Arguments for the Existence of God ” , subtitled ” a work of fiction ” , authored by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein , is by far the most thought-provoking novel I have ever read .
    The author grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family , abandoned Orthodoxy for atheism , and now is Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University .

    The story-line is engaging , but the soul ( or , more accurately, sole purpose ) of the book is to present 36 arguments for the existence of God . . . some Classical and some amazingly original . . . and then to REFUTE all 36 arguments with razor-sharp Aristotlean logic and ruthlless reasoning .

    Her refutations are strong , often darkly witty , but ultimately fail because belief in God cannot be proven or disproven .
    Logic has limits , but faith is boundless .

    My point-of-view is that Faith is
    more WOW less how ?
    more Thank than think
    more Experience than experiment
    more warm Love than cold logic
    more Song than speech
    more Connection than calculation
    more the kitchen table than The Periodic Table
    more Prophets than profits
    more Adam less atom

    As Abraham Joshua Heschel taught :
    Life is not a puzzle to be solved
    but a MYSTERY to be Lived .

    A final contrast :
    Atheism is a strong sword . . but a weak shield ;
    Faith is a strong sword . . and also a Strong Shield .

    • Your friend says:

      I hope I am not the only one who reads your comments with sincere interest. They are all well written, filled with conviction, and witty. However, as I have learned, one can not prove a negative. Therefore, God needs to be proven, not disproven. And, your comment about Atheism………… A weak shield against what?

      • docbzf says:

        aganst the inheren t hardships of life :
        disappointments , disease , disaster , death ,

      • Your friend, again.......... says:

        Perhaps one can learn to accept that disappointments, disease, disaster, and death are just random events over which we have no control. They are part of the existential angst with which we all deal. I don’t think we need to ‘credit or blame’ a god, just learn to be at peace with the exigencies of life without the need for magical divine intervention.

  7. docbzf says:

    Pirkei Avot on Broad Street

    Yes , Pirkei Avot 1:12 on Broad Street as a core value of Congregation Rodeph Shalom :
    love Peace and pursue it .

    I draw much ethical inspiration from two Jewish sources :
    1 : the Holiness Code ( Leviticus 17 – 26 )
    2: the Ten Commandments
    3 : Pirkei Avot of the Mishna , which contains such important teachings as
    ” That which is hateful to you
    do not do to your fellow ”
    and
    ” It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work
    but neither are you at liberty to desist from it ”

    ( the work I interpret as Tikkun Olam ( repair the world ) by doing good deeds .

  8. docbzf says:

    Too Numerous To Count

    Jewish heroes and heroines are too numerous to count .
    After all, Our Tribe has ancestors spanning at least 2500 years.

    I am inspired by . .
    women such as Miriam , the 5 daughters of Zelophahad ;
    Queen Esther : Golda Meir ; Hanna Senesh .

    scholars such as Yochanan ben Zachai , Rashi , Maimonides , Mordechai Kaplan .

    soldiers such as the Macabees , those on Masada , those in the Warsaw ghetto , all the men and women in all of Israel’s wars

    Zionists such as Theodore Herzl , David Ben-Gurion , Golda Meir ,
    and Eleazar Ben-Yehuda .

    Since language is my passion
    I admire Eleazer Ben-Yehuda for reviving the Hebrew language .

    As for living role models ,
    the clergy of Rodeph Shalom top my list .

  9. docbzf says:

    Pirkei Avot on Broad Street

    needs better editing : i means THREE Jewish sources .

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