Temple Beth Shalom 5

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Rabbi Sheldon EzringWell this winter is certainly most of the country’s winter of weather discontent. As a buddy in Chicago put it, “First we have cold. Then we have colder. Then we have snow. Then we have cold…” Well so do we in Northeast Ohio! All around the country the odd phenomenon goes on. Just enjoy everyday as much as you can and give thanks for all of your blessings. I am doing that every morning and evening.

Worship: On Friday, 2/14/2014, Tot Shabbat at 7:00PM and at 7:45PM a Rabbi Ezring, yes, that’s me, led Shabbat Service.

Torah Study: Join me in the Temple Board Room on Saturday morning at 9:30AM to discuss this week’s Torah reading.

Torah Time: Ki Tisa, (Ex: 30:11-34:35) “When you take a census” is this week’s reading.

Go online and find any summary from a Jewish site that you like to get an overview of the portion.

I want to focus on one line:
Ex. 32:9: The Lord further said to Moses: “I see this is a stiff-necked people.”

There it is in a nutshell. We Jews are called a stiff-necked people.

Have you ever thought how important that negative quality has been for us throughout Jewish History?

If we had not been stiff-necked we never would have made it through slavery in Egypt.

If we had not been stiff-necked we never would have made it through the wilderness.

If we had not been stiff-necked we never would entered an amorphous covenant with God at Sinai.

If we had not been stiff-necked we never would conquered Canaan.

If we had not been stiff-necked we never would have built and rebuilt the temple.

If we had not been stiff-necked we never would have made it through 2000 years of diaspora.

If we had not been stiff-necked we never would have made it through the Holocaust.

If we had not been stiff-necked we never would have made it through the rebirth of the State of Israel.

If we had not been stiff-necked we never would have made it through a world that has never given up the disease of anti-Semitism.

If we had not been stiff-necked we never won as many Nobel Prizes as we have.

If we had not been stiff-necked we never would have continued to exist, with all of our divergence as the Jewish people.

And what do we get being stiff-necked?

We get called pushy. We even call ourselves overbearing. Have you ever heard mid-Western Jews speak about New York Jews? Friends, I was born in NYC, but I grew up in the mid-West. Today, I live in the far Eastern portion of the mid-West and I find New York types tough to take at times. Yet, I have to tell you around here people find those of us living in the Jewish suburbs to be, you have it, stiff-necked and pushy and overbearing and questioning and grasping.

Let me tell you all of those qualities have given us the fortitude to exist through the ages. Those qualities have led our Jewish people to have a history of making education a priority. That stubbornness has guided us to lead as healthy a lifestyle as the world allowed at any given time.

We Jews love to discuss, ok, argue. You have an opinion fine, but I will give you a different viewpoint. You may agree or disagree. What that argumentative, stiff-necked attitude does is broaden your ability to fully review an issue.

Yup, I for one am stiff-necked. If I had not been stiff-necked I would have remained in traditional Judaism. If I had not been stiff-necked I would not have had the confidence to make all the changes that have been part of my life. And that ability to be stiff-necked which has enabled you and me to be survivors is what keeps us alive, and vibrant, and creative, and competitive, and thought provoking, and incredibly accomplished.

And you know something else? It is that stubborn, stiff-necked, argumentative and hard headed quality that has allowed us to argue with God, at times to question God’s very existence, and to be able to argue with God. When we argue with God and we arrive at an answer, that stiff-necked quality allows us to accept our decision and live with it.

I am proud to be a stiff-necked, sometimes pushy, often argumentative, forward thinking Jew. I accept the reality of whom we are and love that reality. I know without that indomitable stiff-necked quality, my family, my people, and my co-religionists would not be here.

If we had not been a stiff-necked people, life would not have been the blessing it has been for us. Rather, we would have joined so many others and we would have gone out of existence.
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Before it is too late, pick up the phone and reconnect with someone you cared about in the past but have been out of touch with for a long time.

Today tell your wife, your children, your parents, and your dear friends etc. etc., “I love you.”

Tonight, thank God for your blessings and ask God for help with your concerns.

Oh and don’t forget: “Dare to be Happy.”

Shabbat Shalom,

Rab E

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cell #: 315.415.1813

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