Crowd Sourcing Sermon Topic for July 24

“Why do we confess to wrongs we have not personally committed? The 16th-century mystic Rabbi Isaac Luria teaches that the people of Israel may be likened to a body of which every Jew is a living part. The vitality of the whole depends upon the health of every organ and limb. That is how deeply we are connected to one another. Therefore, each individual sin inflicts damage on the whole organism, and all of us share responsibility for healing the body of Israel.”

From Mishkan Hanefesh, page 83 of the Yom Kippur volume

What Do You Think: Our new High Holy Day machzor challenges us to consider the same prayers as speaking to both the individual and the community. How does the High Holy Day liturgy speak to you and your individual experience, and how does it speak to you as a member of the Jewish community?

5 Responses to Crowd Sourcing Sermon Topic for July 24

  1. We as Jews believe in the old adage “It takes a village” or substitute the word village for “shtetl” or “mellah”. We are a community and what one of us does has an effect on all of us. In my parents’ day, when a Jew committed a crime – a mobster, a murderer, etc., the shame was upon the community as a whole and even moreso in my grandparents’ day in Europe, the sin of one of us had dire consequences on ALL of us. Therefore, our penitential prayers are formulated in the plural rather than in the singular. Even if during silent confessional we personally atone for our own, individual sins, publicly we confess in the plural. To do a confession any other way would abrogate our connection to the whole of Am Yisrael

  2. docbzf says:

    Henry ,
    I agree totally with your remarks .

  3. Bob Bierman says:

    I also remember as a child that my parents would say “thank God he wasn’t a Jew” when a terrible crime occurred. However I am no longer willing or able to accept that. I do not believe in collective guilt just as I do not believe in collective punishment. Of course one could deduce that I am talking about Israel. I yield to no one in my love for Israel and I’ve talked before about standing on street corners collecting money for the JNF when I was a child. However, just as Jews around the world are condemned for the actions of Israelis, witness the terrible rise of antisemitism, Palestinians are subjected to collective punishments for the actions of some (okay, many) by the Israeli government. I apologize to those who will be offended by my comments, but I stand by them as an individual and proud Jew. We need to be responsible for our own actions, atone for our own misdeeds, and vow to do better as individuals.

  4. docbzf says:

    In Yiddish we say : ” S’ schver to zein a Yid ” ( in English , ” it is difficult to be a Jew ” ) .

    Yes , difficult for many reasons , among which are our group identity because of our common ancestral lineage ( Patriarchs and Matriarchs ) . We refer to each other as ” Members of the Tribe ” — tribalism at its best : being loyal and helpful to each other in our group .

    Mordachai Kaplan defined Judaism as the ” evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people ” . I like this definition .
    It starts with People — tangible people . This tribe created a civilization ( a history , a land , a language , music , literature , dress , holy days ) which was a Religious Civilization , founded and grounded in our Tanach , and EVOLVING through time and times .
    Judaism and Jews are patently not monolithic . We are multi-denominational as a religion , and individually unique — from the black hat Haredim to the agnostic / atheist bagels-and-lox Jew .

    We are all individuals , and I find it difficult to be responsible for the shortcomings and/or misdeeds of another Jew .

    It is a full-time job exercising my own self-control : in my constant battle of my Yetzer ha-Tov with my Yetzer ha-Ra . In the final analysis , only I am responsible for my own actions .

    Yet .. yet …yet I do feel a primal identity with , and loyalty to, my Tribe .
    When political news breaks , I always think ; ” Is it good for the Jews ? ”

    This is a primal Jewish struggle :
    what is ethical for me ?
    what is ethical for my people ?
    what is ethical for all people ?

  5. mary kirson says:

    This whole issue comes down to PREJUDICE. If one makes PRE-Judgments on a whole class of other people because of what one or several of those people do, isn’t that prejudice? We claim to abhor prejudice but we take on ourselves the responsibility of other Jews because we don’t want to be pre-judged.We should condemn the racist or antisemite, not feel we have to atone for what anyone else does. One can only be responsible for what one does oneself, that’s hard enough.

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