I started reading torah in the second grade. Each week, I chanted from our sacred, ancient scroll in junior congregation, and felt privileged to help bring our most cherished stories to life for my friends and community. At the end of that year, my rabbi gave me a gift for investing the time each week to prepare: a tikkun korim, a specially printed volume of the Torah with the Hebrew, vowels and trope marks on one side, and the unmarked, adorned text as it appears in the scroll on the other. He inscribed the book with a famous teaching from Pirkei Avot that has become one of my favorites: Ben Bag Bag said: hafoch bah vehafoch bah. Turn it and turn it, since everything is in it.
Though I have to say goodbye
Don’t let it make you cry
For even if I’m far away
I hold you in my heart
I sing a secret song to you
Each night we are apart
Though I have to travel far
Each time you hear a sad guitar
Know that I’m with you
The only way that I can be
Until you’re in my arms again
This sermon was given on Erev Yom Kippur by Rabbis Sunshine, Roffman & Wallach
On Erev Yom Kippur, our prayers begin to slip the earthly bonds of gravity. By the conclusion of this most sacred day, they are propelled straight through the gates of heaven. And what guides their way? A ladder.
Ya’ale tachanuneinu me’erv, v’yavo shavatenu mi’boker, v’yera’eh rinuneinu ad e’rev.
There’s a story told about a man who was walking down Sderot Rothschild, one of the main streets in Tel Aviv, when all of a sudden he had a heart attack and immediately lost consciousness. When he opened his eyes, he looked around and found himself standing at the entrance to a hotel with impeccably groomed lawns, a magnificent pool with a lazy river, a lobby generously decorated with beautiful white marble, and a restaurant with a mouth-watering buffet clearly visible from the lobby. The man was at once excited to see all of these sights, and also puzzled as to where he was. So he went up to the reception desk and inquired, “where am I?”, to which the manager on duty replied, “you’re in heaven.” The man was still processing this amazing response when suddenly he was jarred awake by the current coming from defibrillator paddles on his chest. He was relieved to gradually discern that he had been revived and was very much still alive, but in the back of his mind he still recalled this incredible vision of what lay in store for him in heaven when his time ultimately came.
by Rabbi Adam Roffman
Remember Eleanor Rigby?
Eleanor Rigby who picked up the rice in a church where a wedding has been.
She lived in a dream.
She waited at her window, wearing a face
That she kept in a jar by the door?
But who was it for?
If you remember Eleanor Rigby, you probably also remember Father MacKenzie.
Who sat writing the words
To a sermon that no one will hear
Because no one comes near.
We saw him working,
Darning his socks
In the night when nobody’s there.
What did he care?
It was these two figures that sprang from Paul McCartney’s imagination that provoked him to ask this profound question in 1966: All the lonely people…where do they all come from?
This summer, Adam and I went to see the new documentary on Mr. Rogers: Won’t you be my neighbor? If you’re not familiar with Mr. Rogers, he was the creator, writer, and producer of the magical television show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood that he introduced to his local TV station as a countercultural gesture in contrast to the cartoonishly violent, fast-paced children’s shows available at the time.
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