Quantcast

Jewish Journal

Rabbi Ed Feinstein

  • An inconvenient voice

    June 14, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    Moses buries him.

    Literally - he opens up the earth, and Korah and his followers are swallowed alive.

    The rabbis of the Midrash were more graceful. They only buried him literarily and morally - projecting upon him every evil motive and base intention.

    For the rabbis, Korah...
  • The Heart of Jewish Joy

    March 1, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    A modest proposal: As a reward to the Jewish people for having survived the 20th century, let's make Purim our High Holiday.

    Not that there's anything really wrong with our current High Holidays. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are compelling days of personal introspection, reflection...

  • Are You Listening?

    August 3, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    "What's the most important word in the prayer book?" the rabbi asked the congregation.

    The congregants responded with a list of important words: "shalom -- peace," "bracha -- blessing," "Torah -- God's truth," "Hashem -- God's name."

    "All very important words," the rabbi replied....

  • Perfectly Imperfect

    May 4, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    Jewish kids all get A's. It's a fact. They're all well above average. Jewish kids always star in the show, play first violin in the orchestra, win the debate championship. This week the last of the college acceptance letters went out. They all got into Stanford, Berkeley and Brown....

  • ADVERTISEMENT
    PUT YOUR AD HERE
  • A Good Place to Start

    February 2, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    The Torah has no title page. It has neither an author's introduction nor a preface -- nothing to tell us why the book was written or how it is to be read. The very first line begins with a complete lack of self-consciousness: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth"...

  • Globalization of Hope

    November 3, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    "Come, let us build us a city, and a tower with its top in the sky, to make a name for ourselves; else we shall be scattered all over the world." The Lord came down to look at the city and tower that man had built, and the Lord said, "If, as one people with one language for all, this...

  • Who Loves You?

    August 18, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    A bright and otherwise articulate second-grader was having night terrors. Well after midnight, she'd awaken screaming hysterically something about death. So her parents brought her to see me, the rabbi.

    "I know kids, but I'm not a therapist," I complained.

    "But she trusts you," they...

  • I’m Not Religious

    March 10, 2005 | 7:00 pm

     

    "Please understand, rabbi. I'm very spiritual. I'm just not religious."

    It is the anthem of a generation.

    I'm spiritual: I wrestle with the meaning of my existence. I cultivate my inner life. I feel God is very close. I sense my connectedness to others and to the earth and I try...

  • The Grinch Who Stole The Latkes

    December 2, 2004 | 7:00 pm

     

    Oh the Jews of old Jewville just loved holidays,
    And kept them religiously, in all of their ways.
    But of all of the holidays that we Jews remember
    The most special in Jewville was the one in December.

    With tales of brave Judah, with latkes and dreidels
    Chanukah thrilled...

  • God’s Questions

    September 23, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    When we arrive in heaven, the talmudic sages wondered, what will God ask of us?

    This is not really a question about heaven. It is about how we live and how we locate eternity within life.

    The philosopher Franz Rosensweig explained that on Yom Kippur, we are offered a look at our...

  • Age of Amusement

    September 9, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    A gentleman died and his family asked me to officiate his funeral. So we agreed to meet, his children and I, to prepare. Sitting around the spacious dining room table I asked them, "Tell me about your father."

    After a long silence one of the sons volunteered: "Dad loved golf."

    "Golf...

  • From Darkness to Light

    May 6, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    Each morning and each evening, the people of the daily minyan gather to recite the obligatory prayers. It isn't exciting. The melodies aren't particularly uplifting. Sometimes there is a word of learning, but no sermon; none of the flourishes, trappings and trimmings of professional...

  • Letting Go

    August 21, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    We leave well before dawn and as we speed through darkness I keep asking myself how it is that I'm now the parent of a college student -- I can still remember vividly the details of my own freshman year almost 30 years ago.

    Arriving at the college, we locate the information booth,...

  • The Core of Judaism

    June 12, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Each year, Rabbi Leib Saras made a pilgrimage to see Rebbe Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezrich. When asked what Torah he went to learn, Leib Saras answered: "I do not go to learn interpretations of Torah. I go to watch the way he ties his shoes."

    Try this experiment: Put your hands in...

  • Different Heroes

    May 8, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    "Od lo avda tikvataynu."

    A poster of Moshe Dayan hung in my childhood bedroom. Growing up in the light of the Six-Day War, I adored this new Jewish hero -- tough, cocky, a Jew without fear. A generation later, we venerated Yitzchak Rabin -- the warrior peacemaker, the realistic...

  • Our Legacy

    March 6, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    As I wheeled my shopping cart down the aisle of the local market on my weekly grocery run, a toddler riding in his mother's cart came up the other side. He was one of the students in the nursery school, and when he recognized me, his mouth dropped open. He pointed and shouted, "Mom,...

  • The Consumer

    February 6, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Ancient Greek democracy created the "citizen." Renaissance Europe invented the "gentleman." Colonial America produced the "frontiersman." Each human civilization, it seems, fashions its own unique character type. And ours is no exception. Contemporary America has spawned the...

  • Jump!

    January 16, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    It is the Torah's most exciting, most cinematic story. The Israelites, newly freed from slavery, were camped at the shores of the sea when suddenly the sounds Pharaoh's approaching chariots filled the air. Realizing they were trapped, the ex-slaves cried bitterly to Moses, "Were...

  • Have You But One Blessing?

    November 7, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    It began with the first two human born into this world, the world's first brothers.

    In the course of time, Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil. Abel, for his part, brought the choicest of the firstlings of his flock. The Lord paid heed to Abel and his...

  • The Man of Lonesome Sorrow

    July 4, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    He awoke from the nightmare with a scream, as he had every night for almost 40 years. His heart raced, his body drenched in sweat, his mind filled with vivid images of fiery destruction. He saw rivulets of blood flowing through the streets of Jerusalem, the Holy Temple ground into...

  • The World Has No Memory

    April 25, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    This is a slightly abridged version of an address delivered to a crowd of 2,000 people at a rally for Israel at the Milken Jewish Community Center, April 16, 2002

    I want to talk to the children tonight, because I'm concerned for your faith.

    You've heard that we are aggressors -...

  • A Bittersweet Blessing

    April 11, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    The great Israeli author, Shai Agnon, related a fable about a little boy and his old father, who together tended a goat. Each day the goat wandered off and returned at evening, its udders filled with the sweetest of milk. The boy wished to know where the goat went, and on what grass...

  • Stolen Souls

    January 3, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Surfing the TV one night, two powerful images caught my eye: On one station were Afghan women draped from head to toe in the traditional black burka. On another, Britney Spears, very much undraped, projected live across the world in a televised concert.

    The opposing extremes of 21st...

  • Find the Gems

    September 27, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    There once was a man who could provide only potatoes for his family's subsistence. As the monotony and the poverty wore on, he prayed, and his prayers were answered. There fell into his hands a mysterious map to a magical Island of Diamonds.

    Begging a boat, he set sail on a long and...

  • The Situation

    August 30, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    To know the mind of Israel today, you needn't consult a Gallup poll. Just jump into any taxicab and ask the driver about ha'matsav (the situation). His first response, "Milchama [war] -- there's going to be a war. We need a war," he'll carefully explain, "to show them we're still...

  • Today I Am a Man

    May 31, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    All of five feet tall in his stiff new suit and shiny shoes, he can barely be seen over the bima. In a cracking adolescent voice, he announces, "Today I am bar mitzvah. Today I am a man." Yes, you are. But what do you know about being a man? A Jewish man? What can we tell you?

    His...

  • Opening a Door

    May 10, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Just off Highway 101, about an hour south of San Francisco, stands a remarkable spiritual landmark. For years, as we drove up the coast, we would see signs and bumper stickers enticing us to visit the Winchester Mystery House. Finally, a year ago, we did.

    The story of this landmark...

  • How the Grinch Stole Shabbat

    April 12, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Oh, the Jews up in Jewville,
    they loved their Shabbat,
    from the oldest of old folks
    to the youngest of tots.



    With candles and wine
    and chocolate chip challah,
    they felt oh so good
    till way past Havdalah.



    They all went to shul
    to hear Rabbi Schulweis,
    who told them, "It's...

  • What is Your Name?

    January 25, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    God created the animals and brought them, one by one, before man to see what he would name them. Man examined the essence of each creature and assigned its name. So teaches Genesis.

    The midrash goes farther: When all the animals had been named, God asked man, "What is your name?"...

  • The Birth of Chutzpah

    November 16, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    We believe in a God who dreams. The Torah is the story of the transaction between God's dreams and human reality. God dreams of a world of goodness. God creates humanity - fashioned in the divine image - to share the dream. But human beings betrayed God's dreams. We filled the world...
  • ‘Survivor’ Ethics

    September 7, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    Sixteen strangers are left on a wilderness island to fend for themselves. They endure starvation, infestation, exposure to the elements. Each night they gather in council to vote one of their company off the island. Finally, only two are left. The castoffs are brought back as jury to...

  • Through the Wilderness

    July 13, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    It's hot and smoggy. The cooling breeze of nightfall won't arrive for hours. Stuck in endless urban traffic, the radio news ticks off the day's toll of rape, murder and mayhem, governmental ineptitude and unfathomable moral lunacy. Welcome to the wasteland. Welcome to Bamidbar.

    In...

  • Torah Portion:The Holiness of Literacy

    June 8, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    For many years, the Allen School was the worst in the Dayton, Ohio, system. Located in the dilapidated inner city, the dropout rate was astronomical. Fifth graders had parole officers. Then came a new principal. He brought the staff together and said to them: "We have to understand...

  • Bittersweet Life

    April 20, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    Exiled from Paradise, Adam and Eve lived together east of Eden, struggling to raise children, to scratch a living out of the hard earth, to stay alive.

    Finally, in their old age, with children grown, Adam and Eve decided to see the world. They journeyed from one corner of the earth...

  • The Invisible Population

    March 30, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    The first time I saw a beggar on the streets of Los Angeles I was shocked. The man, disheveled and filthy, stood on the freeway offramp with a tattered sign: "Will Work for Food." Sure, there are beggars in Calcutta and panhandlers in New York, but not here! I stared at him for a...
  • Building Community

    February 10, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    As I wheeled my shopping cart down the aisle of the local market on my weekly grocery run, a 3-year-old riding in his mother's cart came up the other side. He was one of the students in the nursery school, and when he recognized me, his mouth dropped open, he pointed and shouted,...
  • Making the Grade

    December 23, 1999 | 7:00 pm

    A story is told of a man who came to his rabbi complaining of depression. His life lately seemed like an endless string of failures, disappointments and missed opportunities. Why, he asked, had God condemned him to live such a frustrating existence? The rabbi listened carefully and...
  • Ask Yourself God’s Questions

    September 9, 1999 | 8:00 pm

    When we arrive in heaven, the Talmudic sages wondered, what will God ask of us?

    This is not really a question about heaven. It is about how we live and how we locate eternity within life. The philosopher Franz Rosensweig explained that on Yom Kippur we are offered a look at our lives...

  • Sit Right Down and Write Yourself a Letter

    July 29, 1999 | 8:00 pm

    Write a letter. Address it to those you love -- your spouse, your children and grandchild, your friends, your community. Put into this letter what life has taught you: What you learned from childhood, from growing up, from your education. What you learned from marriage and raising...
  • A Bug’s Life

    June 10, 1999 | 8:00 pm

    "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was lying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little, he could see his dome-like brown belly divided into stiff arched...
  • The Golem in Our Midst

    April 29, 1999 | 8:00 pm

    The great rabbi of 16th-century Prague, Rabbi Yehuda Loew, received word of a coming blood libel, an attack on his community. So he prayed for divine help. In a dream, he saw 10 Hebrew words in alphabetical order: "Create a Golem of Clay, Destroy Those Tearing Israel's Heart."

    After...

  • When You Haven’t Got a Prayer

    March 18, 1999 | 7:00 pm

    They sat like any other family in the noisy restaurant, trading conversation, stories, tales of the day past. But when the waiter brought their meal, something remarkable happened: The conversation stopped, hands were extended and grasped to form a circle around the table, eyes...

  • On Living with Tension

    February 25, 1999 | 7:00 pm

    Once, a stranger approached Hillel and Shammai, the great sages of the first century, with a request: "Teach me the Torah while I stand on one foot."

    First, he brought the request to Shammai. According to the Talmud, Shammai picked up a builder's rule, smacked him along side his head...

  • The Laws of Life

    February 11, 1999 | 7:00 pm

    Among those who left Egypt, there were two -- Berel and Shmerel. As slaves, these two had grown so accustomed to looking down at the ground, they could no longer lift their eyes.

    And, so, when Moses brought Israel across the Red Sea, Berel asked Shmerel, "What do you see?"

    "I see mud,"...

  • ‘Very’ Difficult Choices

    November 19, 1998 | 7:00 pm

    The word "m'od," which means "very" or "much," is a very common biblical word. At the end of the sixth day of creation, for example, when God assesses the world He has created, He proclaims it to be "tov m'od," very good. In the Torah reading this week, though, we find a very...

  • A Life is a Terrible Thing to Waste

    November 12, 1998 | 7:00 pm

    Every textbook of religion will tell you that death is the great catalyst of spirituality. Religion, it is argued, comes to answer the problem of death. But, if that is so, where is the tractate of Talmud that deals with death? Talmud Shabbat details the laws of Sabbath, Ketubot...
  • Living in the Here and Now

    September 17, 1998 | 8:00 pm

    When the Chassidic master, Reb Yitzchak Yakov, the Seer of Lublin, died, his disciples divided his worldly goods. One got his books and his notes, another his shtender, his study lectern, one his Kiddush cup, another his tallit and tefillin. When it was all distributed, there...
  • Torah Portion

    August 20, 1998 | 8:00 pm

    Why Be Jewish?

    By Rabbi Ed Feinstein

    There is a story that haunts me this time of year.

    Franz Rosensweig. Photo from "My Jewish World"

    It is the story of a young Jew who lived in...

  • Torah Portion

    August 13, 1998 | 8:00 pm

    Does Anyone Know What Time It Is?

    By Rabbi Ed Feinstein

    In the office, I have a fast computer with e-mail and a modem, a fax machine, a cell phone and a pager. At home, a microwave/convection oven, dishwasher, washer/dryer,...

  • Torah Portion

    July 9, 1998 | 8:00 pm

    The Moabites of Hollywood

    By Rabbi Ed Feinstein

    Been to the movies this summer? There's "Armageddon," in which a Texas-sized asteroid hurtling toward Earth threatens all life on this planet. "Deep Impact" features two...