Below you will find three sermons which I have delivered over the past year. The video at the top of the page accompanies the first sermon for Parashat Yitro.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
.וַיֹּאמֶר חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה אֵלָיו לֹא־טוֹב הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה עֹשֶׂה
.נָבֹל תִּבֹּל גַּם־אַתָּה גַּם־הָעָם הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר עִמָּךְ כִּי־כָבֵד מִמְּךָ הַדָּבָר לֹא־תוּכַל עֲשֹׂהוּ לְבַדֶּךָ
But Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “this thing you are doing, it is not good. It is not good for you, and not good for the people. This task is too heavy, you cannot do it alone”.
“We, in this room, must strive to be like Yitro, the empathetic voice of concern. We must train an eye towards spotting the needs of others. We know from our own pain and stress with this very issue, so when we see signs of suffering in our communities we can take the first step. We can act from a place of experience, understanding, and love”.
Addressing my classmates, professors, and the rest of the HUC community, I acknowledge the isolating challenges of leadership and how they uniquely prepare us to best serve our communities.
SEEKING PEACE AT OUR BORDERS
וְגֵר לֹא תִלְחָץ וְאַתֶּם יְדַעְתֶּם אֶת־נֶפֶשׁ הַגֵּר כִּי־גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם
You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger,
having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.
“This essential aspect of Judaism, this collective memory of oppression, adds a level to our mandate to stand up in the face of injustice. We know that the roots of persecution run too deep to be swept aside. We know the need for help is dire, we know the time for action is now”.
Responding to the “zero-tolerance” policy enacted at the U.S.-Mexico border in June 2018, I asked “what is our responsibility as historic Ivrim, passers through, to those seeking peace at our southern border?”
אָמְרוּ לוֹ: שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל אָבִינוּ, כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאֵין בְּלִבְּךָ מַחְלֹקֶת עַל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, כָּךְ אֵין בְּלִבֵּנוּ מַחְלֹקֶת, אֶלָּא: ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ ה' אֶחָד, אַף הוּא פֵּרַשׁ בִּשְׂפָתָיו וְאָמַר: בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכותוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד
They said to him: 'Listen, Israel,' our father, just as there is no doubt in your heart regarding the Holy One of Blessing, there is no doubt in our hearts. 'Adonai is our God, Adonai is One.' And he said softly: 'Blessed be the Name, whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever'.
Bereshit Rabbah 98:3
“Imagine if we in this sanctuary tonight were the children of Yisrael gathered around his deathbed. Could we allay him of his fears? Could we assure him that we will carry the tradition forward?”
In this sermon at the end of Genesis and the end of December, I offer a New Year’s Resolution. I suggest that a daily practice of receiving and transmitting Judaism will allow us to fulfill our responsibility of passing on our tradition.