Ask the Rabbi – This Friday, May 6

Chevre,

Our next B’Chavana Shabbat gathering will be Friday, May 6 at the home of Jane and Steve Grossman in Deerfield.

During a recent meeting of the Torah learning group, we got off topic – imagine that! – for what turned out to be the entire session.  We discussed different periods of Jewish history, the relationship between early Judaism and Christianity and other interesting topics.  When Leslie mentioned it at the Leadership Va’ad meeting, people around the table asked if we could do that on a Friday night.  So here it comes: the first-ever “Ask the Rabbi”.  Bring your questions, large and small, and I’ll respond to them all.  And remember my teaching motto: ‘There’s no such thing as a stupid question.'”

Our usual Friday night schedule applies:

6:00 PM   Arrive, schmooze, wine and cheese
6:40 PM   Kabbalat Shabbat
7:30 PM    Dinner
8:30 PM   Ask The Rabbi
Post … Dessert, more schmooze

Please RSVP via Perfect Potluck:  http://www.perfectpotluck.com/meals.php?t=YNKT9563.

Jane and Steve Grossman are at 207 East St Andrews Ln, Deerfield, IL 60015   [view map]. To contact Jane: jane.gro@me.com; (847) 754-6424.

L’shalom,
Marc

Louis Jay Grossman, z’l

Chevre,

I am saddened to let you know of the death last week of Louis Grossman, 61, brother-in-law of Randi and Glenn Simon (as well as being Glenn’s partner in PaNosh Kosher Catering) after a long and courageous struggle with illness and disability.  Louis is survived by his wife, Marlene, and his children Seth and Brooke, Michael and Charry, and Leah and Shrad, as well as their children and other close members of his family.

The funeral was on Thursday.  I apologize that I could not post this sooner but I was out of the country.  The family has completed receiving condolences, but I’m sure that Randi and Glenn might appreciate a phone call.

Our love and condolences go to Randi and Glenn and their children as well as to Marlene and her children and grandchildren during this time of mourning.  We hope that they know of our support and that their memories of Louis bring a measure of comfort to them. If you wish, the family has asked that contributions be made to the American Diabetes Association, 55 E. Monroe St., #3420, Chicago, IL 60603, www.diabetes.org (312) 346-1805.

Ha-Makom yinachem etchem b’toch sh’ar avaley Tzion v’Yerushalayim – may God console them along with all who mourn among our people.

L’shalom,
Marc

 

“Ask The Rabbi” – Friday, May 6 Shabbat

Our next B’Chavana Shabbat gathering will be Friday, May 6 at the home of Jane and Steve Grossman in Northbrook. Our topic will be Ask The Rabbi – here’s what Rabbi Marc has to say on this:

“During a recent meeting of the Torah learning group, we got off topic – imagine that! – for what turned out to be the entire session.  We discussed different periods of Jewish history, the relationship between early Judaism and Christianity and other interesting topics.  When Leslie mentioned it at the Leadership Va’ad meeting, people around the table asked if we could do that on a Friday night.  So here it comes: the first-ever “Ask the Rabbi”.  Bring your questions, large and small, and I’ll respond to them all.  And remember my teaching motto: ‘There’s no such thing as a stupid question.'”

Our usual Friday night schedule applies:

6:00 PM arrive, schmooze, wine and cheese
6:30 PM Kaballat Shabbat
7:15 PM Dinner
8:00 PM Ask The Rabbi
Post … Dessert, more schmooze

Please RSVP via Perfect Potluck:  http://www.perfectpotluck.com/meals.php?t=YNKT9563

Jane and Steve Grossman are at 207 East St Andrews Ln, Deerfield, IL 60015   [view map]

See you there!

A Seder of Remembrance (For Those Not Yet Free)

Chevre,

Tonight, I hope, you will sit around the seder table surrounded by family and friends. You’ll share some of the ancient words and melodies along with much wine and good food.  Laughter will fill the air and joy and love felt deep within.

All of that is backdrop for the telling of the story, the maggid, and the enunciation of principles of liberation, freedom and the dignity of humankind.  Those words and melodies are the mode by which we recount the narrative of our enslavement and recall the liberation that gave us our freedom.

God did not instruct Moses to say to Pharaoh “let My people go” but, rather, “let My people go that they might serve Me in the wilderness.”  The story of the exodus is not complete without our engagement with God at the mountain, Sinai, wherein we received the instruction – and challenge – to be a nation of priests, committed to establishing the dignity of humankind throughout the world.

We tell our story to be reminded of that . . . and to remind ourselves of all of those who are not free, whose dignity has been diminished by the foolishness and evil of others.  Ha lachma anya – this is the bread of affliction we proclaim – reminding ourselves not only of our own past affliction but tasting as well the denigration of others: minorities and immigrants in our country; those slaughtered in the name of religion in Syria; women and children around the world trafficked for purposes of slavery and sexual abuse; and so many others.

At one point in the seder we recount the plagues which struck the Egyptians and we pour out one drop of wine for each of the plagues.  Even in our celebration, we choose to diminish our own joy because others suffered while we experienced freedom.

Tonight, as you celebrate, recall those I’ve named above and others as you drop those drops of wine.  Celebrate in joy, please, but also remember those who do not yet know the meaning of our festival of liberation.

And recall the message of Sinai: that is our responsibility l’taken olam b’malchut Shaddai, to establish God’s sovereignty in all the world, a sovereignty that abides no prejudice, no enslavement, no demeaning of any human being created in the image of God.

Susan joins me in wishing you a wondrous, joyous and inspiring Pesah.

Chag kasher v’sameach – a kosher and happy holiday,
Marc

4 More (Thoughtful, Intentional) Questions

Chevre,

As you prepare for your seder I’m happy to share with you this thoughtful, innovative meditation by Rachel Levin on the traditional four questions.  I plan to use them at my seder; Rachel is happy for you to use them at yours if you like (you can download this pdf version: The essential Four questions) – Marc

The essential Four questions….Why is this night different from all other nights?

 On all other nights we…. we run, we drive, we talk, we accumulate, we distract, we obligate and we ultimately please only ourselves and others,  

and 

On this night we…. we sit, we eat, we relax, we sing, we listen, we open up our heart and we ultimately please only God.

 On all other nights we….we eat crap,we order in, we take out, we microwave, we are bored, we fill a void, we want convenience and ultimately hunger when we desire purpose,

and

On this night we….we eat slowly, we wait patiently, we bless, we are mindful, we are healed with gratitude and ultimately hunger when we desire freedom.

 On all other nights we….we watch TV, we answer our emails, we smile for selfies, we watch videos on You tube, we check Facebook and ultimately we overshare our mundane experiences,

and 

On this night we….we turn off our iPhones, we dim our computer screens, we unplug our noise, we enjoy story telling, we laugh at conversation and ultimately we share our extraordinary journey.

 On all other nights we….we feel damaged, we ridicule, we lack tolerance, we feel life is out of control, we judge others, we hide from shame and ultimately we believe and trust God is unfair,

and

On this night we….we find love, we seek intimacy, we experience meaning, we recognize our divine spark, we remember our power, we wake up our souls and ultimately we believe and trust God is with us.

Reminder: Beatlemania Concert

Ron and I would be DELIGHTED to see the faces of our new B’Chavana family in the audience on Saturday, April 16!!

This really will be such a great concert where 80+ singers perform many Beatle favorites in wonderful arrangements! Give it a shot! Come and be amazed. AND the net proceeds from this weekend’s concert are donated to breast cancer research. A win-win all the way around! And, as Mark Rangell said, it’s so aligned with Mitzvah Day (on the 17th).

Click here to purchase tickets http://www.singtolive.org. and to see our website and listen to audio clips of music we’ve sung.

Ron and I hope to see many of you next Saturday night!
Melinda Harris

Two Modes Together: Science + Religion

Chevre,

In the culture wars being fought in America today one erroneous opposition is that between science and religion.  Some scientists claim that the world can only be described, and truth be found, via the scientific method.  Some religionists argue that science is godless and when in conflict, let’s say, with the Bible must give way to theological truths.

Most of us don’t see it that way and for good reason.  This is not a case of either/or.  Rather, it is both.

Science and its methodology are unsurpassed tools at describing, if not understanding, how the world works.  Through scientific inquiry we know more than ever about what is and the processes by which stuff operates.  Science has given us powerful tools of discovery and creativity.

Religion, at its best, addresses questions that science does not address and cannot answer. Questions of value, of meaning and purpose.  While science describes how, religion asks why?  Why are we here?  What meaning is there to our lives?  How can we live purposeful lives?

If science describes particles and forces and evolving species, religion addresses love and ethics, charity and justice.  Repentance and forgiveness, arguably the most important elements of human living, cannot be touched by the cool consideration of impersonal forces.

Science makes for bad religion.  Religion makes for bad science.

Scientists who understood the existence and behavior of atomic particles and forces created the atomic bomb.  But they did not – could not – determine whether its use was morally proper.

What is the soul? It is that which is essentially human and which cannot be reduced to anything material.  It cannot be seen in any other species.  Science would deny the existence of the soul but it can only prove that non-existence by ignoring all of the things that constitute the soul: self-consciousness, compassion, altruism, faith, love, meaning, purpose.

The Western world has been impoverished – and will be more so – wherever and whenever science banishes religion from discourse about the human condition.  The Western world likewise is impoverished whenever religion banishes the indispensable tools of science from exploration of the world and how it works.

In this culture war, I take both sides and reject the calls from one that deny the significance of the other.

Shabbat shalom,
Marc