We've Moved!

Apr 20, 2011 at 6:22 PM


Yinon Blog has moved as of April 18, 2011. Old posts and comments will remain here and will also be ported over to our new site.

To read Yinon Blog (old and new posts), go to: MessianicJudaism.me/Yinon

And check out our collaborative site MessianicJudaism.me featuring three other great blogs:

Rabbi Stuart Dauermann: MessianicJudaism.me/Agenda
Rabbi Derek Leman: MessianicJudaism.me/Musings
Messianic Jewish Issues: MessianicJudaism.me/Media

It's Here!

Apr 18, 2011 at 4:54 PM

It's finally here ... and just in time for Passover!

As of today, Yinon Blog has moved over to our new home at MessianicJudaism.me/Yinon.

Old posts, images, and links will all still be available here, but ALL NEW CONTENT will be found at our new blog site.

There will also be other content at MessianicJudaism.me, including some News & Views about Messianic Jewish issues, a new blog by Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann (The Messianic Agenda), and the very popular blog, Messianic Jewish Musings by Rabbi Derek Leman will also be moving over to the new site.

So check us out at our new home ... and Happy Passover!


Passover, Elijah, and Shabbat HaGadol

Apr 14, 2011 at 10:15 PM

Shabbat HaGadol

This week is Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Shabbat that occurs at the beginning of the week in which Passover will be observed (Passover begins Monday evening). There are five special shabbatot leading up to Passover. Each special Shabbat has special readings that are read in addition to the weekly portion. The exception is Shabbat HaGadol. Instead of an additional reading from the Torah, Shabbat HaGadol is highlighted by only a special Haftarah reading from Malachi which concludes with the words:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and awesome day of HaShem” (Mal. 3:23).

Jewish tradition teaches us that Elijah is a messianic figure who will usher in Mashiach and the Messianic Age. This is purposely fitting at this season because Passover is our reliving and retelling of our redemption from Egypt. Both Jewish tradition and the New Testament portray Elijah as representing the coming of messianic redemption. That is why the figure of Elijah is so connected with Passover. Passover today commemorates our connection with not only our physical redemption from slavery, but our spiritual redemption as well.

The Besorah of Luke associates the personification of Elijah with John the Immerser:

“And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the L-rd" (Luke 1:17).

So John the Immerser was a fulfillment of this week’s special Haftarah reading from Malachi 3:23 in preparation for the incarnation and revelation of Yeshua the Messiah. Yet, the role of Elijah is still not complete, for there is an expectation that Elijah himself will yet return ahead of our glorious Mashiach. This is the reason Elijah is referenced so often in Jewish tradition, especially during Passover. During the Seder there is a whole place setting (or in some homes, simply a cup) that is specifically set aside. It is left untouched in the messianic hope that each year we will open the door during our Passover festivities, and welcome in Elijah, who will in turn usher in the return of our Messiah.

Next week during the Seder, we will proclaim, “Eliyahu HaNavi … Come quickly and speedily with Messiah the Son of David.” As we sing those words this Passover, let us also remember the words associated with Shabbat HaGadol - “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the HaShem.”

May we all merit the return of Mashiach and see that day fulfilled speedily and soon!


Some Big News!

Apr 13, 2011 at 9:35 AM

Some exciting things are happening here at Yinon. One of them arrives next week … we’re moving! Yes, that is right. Next week Yinon Blog will be moving to our new home at MessianicJudaism.me.

Old posts, images, and links will all still be available here. You will not have to change any links you currently maintain to yinonblog.blogspot.com (or yinonblog.com). It will simply happen that new content after next week will post to MessianicJudaism.me/Yinon.

There will also be other content at MessianicJudaism.me, including some News & Views about Messianic Jewish issues, a new blog by Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann (The Messianic Agenda), and the very popular blog, Messianic Jewish Musings by Rabbi Derek Leman will also be moving over to the new site.

For more on this exciting announcement, check out Rabbi Derek's announcement today.

Stay tuned for more info …


Welcoming Mashiach

Apr 12, 2011 at 10:10 AM

John 12:1-26

The week before Pesach, after Yeshua had come from the house of Lazarus (whom he had previously raised from the dead) in Beit-Anyah, he traveled on to Jerusalem. Hearing that Yeshua was coming, the people began to run out to meet him. As he entered the city, riding on a donkey, the people waved palm branches and shouted “Hosha-Na, Hosha-Na! Baruch HaBa B'Shem HaShem! Melech Yisrael! - Deliver us! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of HaShem, the King of Israel!”

Upon seeing the crowds coming to greet him, Yeshua knew exactly what was taking place, and its significance. For at the same time, through another gate into the city, the same familiar scene was taking place. The Passover Lambs were being brought into the city, being led up to the Temple Mount. As they were brought into the city, the people were singing and dancing, and waving palm branches, shouting, “Hosha Na! Baruch HaBa B'Shem HaShem!”

The Passover lambs represented the atonement made on behalf of the Jewish people, and the shedding of whose blood brought deliverance from the plague of death. As Yeshua entered the city, and was met with the same recognition, there was a deep understanding of the event taking place. This was proclamtion to Yeshua's Messiahship and to his beeing seen as the Deliverer of the Jewish people. Riding on a donkey, a messianic symbol in Biblical times, Yeshua was fulfilling prophesies of what was to happen. He knew that it was now time to reveal himself to the world. In this Besorah reading, John testifies of this. How Yeshua, responding to his disciples Andrew and Philip, proclaimed:

“The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Yes, indeed! I tell you that unless a grain of wheat that falls to the ground dies, it stays just grain; but if it dies, it produces a great harvest (John 12:23-24).”

During that final week of preparation before Passover, Yeshua, as the Passover lamb, was prepared to be sacrificed. Like the Passover lamb whose blood brought redemption to the people, Yeshua too knew that his blood would bring redemption to Israel. And when the High Priest slaughtered the lamb, announcing “it is finished,” that Yeshua too, as Israel's Highest Priest, would also declare “it is finished,” proclaiming the ultimate deliverance from the plague of spiritual death.

As Yeshua's elect, we must constantly, on a daily basis acknowlege his Messiahship in our lives. We too must cry out, “Hosha-Na! - G-d, please save us!” We must be desperate to see G-d work in our lives, and in our congregations and synagogues to bring about ultimate redemption! Zol shein zein d'geula, Moshioch zol shoin cumin -How lovely redemption shall be, for Mashiach is on His way!


The Leper Scholar

Apr 8, 2011 at 2:41 PM

Parashat Metzora

Our Torah portion this week is a continuation on the theme of tzara’at. Last week I discussed how tzara’at is not what we often think it is. Although it is commonly to understand these passages as dealing with an actual skin disease, Jewish tradition teaches that tzara’at is not leprosy at all, but a serious spiritual caused by Sinat Chinam – hatred without a reason.

Interestingly, there is a wealth of Jewish tradition that makes a connection between tzara’at and the Messiah. After all, the rabbis teach us that everything in the Torah concerns Mashiach. Therefore, the rabbis recognized that even within the spiritual malady of tzara’at were hidden signs of Mashiach:

This tradition of connecting tzara’at and Mashiach begins with a particular verse from last week’s parasha, in Leviticus 13:12-13:

יב וְאִם-פָּרוֹחַ תִּפְרַח הַצָּרַעַת בָּעוֹר וְכִסְּתָה הַצָּרַעַת אֵת כָּל-עוֹר הַנֶּגַע מֵרֹאשׁוֹ וְעַד-רַגְלָיו--לְכָל-מַרְאֵה עֵינֵי הַכֹּהֵן.

12 If the tzara’at breaks out all over the skin, so that, as far as the cohen can see, the person with tzara’at has sores everywhere on his body, from his head to his feet;

יג וְרָאָה הַכֹּהֵן וְהִנֵּה כִסְּתָה הַצָּרַעַת אֶת-כָּל-בְּשָׂרוֹ--וְטִהַר אֶת-הַנָּגַע: כֻּלּוֹ הָפַךְ לָבָן טָהוֹר הוּא.

13 then the cohen is to examine him, and if he sees that the tzara’at has covered his entire body, he is to pronounce the person with the sores as ritually pure - it has all turned white and he is clean.

Referring particularly to verse 13, the Talmud States (b. Sanhedrin 97a):

“The Son of David (Mashiach) will only come when every government becomes heretical. Rabah said, ‘Where do we see this in Scripture? From the verse “He has turned completely white, he is ritually pure.’”

Rashi further expands on this verse and notes, “Just as when the affliction has spread throughout the entire skin and the person is ritually pure, so too, when all the governments have become heretical, the redemption will come.”

Recognizing that the Messiah must be afflicted, and familiar with suffering, the rabbis went even further - and one of the ways they identified Mashiach in the Talmud is with the title, The Leper Scholar:

“The Rabbanan (rabbis) say that Mashiach’s name is The Leper Scholar of the House of Rabbi, for it is written, ‘Surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten and afflicted by G-d (b. Sanhedrin 98b).’”

The rabbis obviously recognized that this does not mean that Mashiach would literally be afflicted with tzara’at but that this was a memtaphor. This connection between tzara’at and Mashiach is not unique to rabbinic literature. Rather, Yeshua himself is described in the Besorah as having compassion for the metzora (the person with tzara’at), and healing them:

“And it happened when he was in a certain city, a man covered with tzara’at saw Yeshua, and he fell on his face and implored him, saying, ‘L-rd, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Then Yeshua put out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing, be healed.’ And he commanded him to tell no one, ‘But go to the cohen and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moshe commanded (Luke 5:12-14).”

Those with tzara’at were healed, and their healings were part of the sign of his being the Mashiach. Yeshua taught that we must forgive, and not let Sinat Chinam eat away within us:

"And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins" (Mark 11:25).

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven" (Luke 6:37).

According to the sages, tzara’at is the physical effect of sin. It is a spiritual disease that must be kept in check. To specifically avoid tzara’at, we must avoid slander and baseless hatred. All of us have spiritual sores and wounds, which if left untreated, can fester into something much worse. That is why we must learn to forgive and let go of any kind of judgment and hatred we might have against another person. Sinat Chinam – baseless hatred will destroy us, but forgiveness and healing can set us free!

We must learn how to go before our great great High Priest, Yeshua our Messiah (Hebrews 5), and let him inspect us. For through him, not only will we find healing and wholeness, but redemption as well.


Yad L'Achim Exposed - Parts II & III

Apr 5, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Last Thursday I posted a link to the first part of a special investigative report aired on Israel's Channel 1 News about the anti-missionary organization, Yad L'Achim. The group is responsible for regular acts of harassment and violence against religious minorities in Israel, especially Messianic Jews.

This three part special report is an important step for religious rights in Israel, particularly with raising awareness toward Messianic Jews. Here are the second and third parts which have now aired:

Part II



Part III



Watch. Sign. Share.

Apr 4, 2011 at 11:35 AM


The time has come to run toward free and fair elections in Congo!

In the last 10 years 5.4 million Congolese have died and 200,000 women have been raped in our world's deadliest war since WWII. In November Congo will be holding only the third election in the country's history. Human rights groups, political experts, and concerned individuals around the world are joining Congolese in calling for free and fair elections. For far too long the world's deadliest war, and many of the other issues affecting the people of Congo have been largely ignored by our government. It is time the U.S. appoints a special envoy to Congo! We absolutely need to monitor the elections, work to end the war, and speak of for the people of this great country.

Please join us in signing this petition (it literally only takes one minute). This petition is not like all petitions. If it's successful, it could actually be a huge step towards peace in a war torn land.

Please sign it, share it, and help us reach 200,000 signatures in 5 days! Sign the Petition HERE!

To find our more about Congo or the upcoming elections visit the FALLING WHISTLES website (http://www.fallingwhistles.com/).

Help end the war in Congo and be a whistle blower for peace!


A Misunderstood Condition

Apr 1, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Parashat Tazria

I used to teach in a Hebrew School at a large Reform Synagogue. One of my responsibilities was to prepare young adolescents for their B’nai Mitzvah. It never ceased to happen that every year some twelve year-old would get completely bummed out upon discovering that their entire Torah portion was about physical impurities and leprosy. Often they would try everything imaginable to get the rabbi or cantor to let them choose another Torah portion. But usually to no avail.

Although the majority of this week’s Torah portion focuses on leprosy, this is really not the most accurate translation and understanding of the Hebrew word Tzara’at. Although it is common to understand these passages as dealing with an actual skin disease, Jewish tradition teaches that tzara’at is not leprosy at all, but a serious spiritual condition.

According to the sages, tzara’at is a spiritual malady. It is believed that tzara’at is the result of Sinat Chinam – hatred without a reason. Therefore, tzara’at is the direct result of unforgiveness and hatred. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch demonstrates that tzara’at cannot possibly be what we commonly understand as leprosy today. This conclusion is due to two things: First, the physical symptoms for leprosy are different from the Torah’s description. Second, the confinement procedures and rules for a person with tzara’at make absolutely no sense. For example, a person with tzara’at which covers their entire body is not ritually impure. But a person who is only partially covered with tzara’at is ritually impure (13:13).

Another example has to do with tzara’at within a home or dwelling (14:26). The Torah states that before a house can be declared ritually pure, all its contents must be removed. Otherwise they become unclean. However, if there was truly a worry about tzara’at being a contagious skin disease, it is irrational to exclude the household items from the quarantine.

The Talmud further states that if the symptoms of tzara’at appear on a newlywed or during a festival, the priest is not even to examine the person so as not to interfere with the celebrations. Therefore, if the purpose was to actually prevent the spread of disease, it would be important to enforce the laws of tzara’at so as not to spread it any further during these greater times of mingling and festivities.

Yeshua himself taught, “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged! For the measure with which you judge others is how you too will be judged (Matthew 7:1-2).” According to the sages, tzara’at is the physical effect of sin. It is a spiritual disease that must be kept in check. To specifically avoid tzara’at, one must avoid slander and baseless hatred.

All of us have spiritual sores and wounds, which if left untreated, can fester into something much worse. That is why we must learn to forgive and let go of any kind of judgment and hatred we might have against another person. We must learn how to go before our great High Priest, Yeshua our Messiah, and let him inspect us. For through him, not only will we find healing, but wholeness and redemption as well.


-This commentary also appears in this week’s The Set Table (www.thesettable.org).


Help Make a Difference for Congo

Mar 31, 2011 at 10:03 PM

As many of you know, we care very much about the people of Congo and desperately want to see peace in the war torn country. 5.4 million Congolese have died and 200,000 women have been raped in our world's deadliest war since WWII. In November Congo will be holding only the third election in the country's history. Human rights groups, political experts, and concerned individuals around the world are joining Congolese in calling for free and fair elections. For far too long the world's deadliest war, and many of the other issues affecting the people of Congo have been largely ignored by our government. It is time the U.S. appoints a special envoy to Congo! We absolutely need to monitor the elections, work to end the war, and speak of for the people of this great country.

Please join us in signing this petition (it literally only takes one minute). This petition is not like all petitions. If it's successful, it could actually be a huge step towards peace in a war torn land.

Please sign it, share it, and help us reach 200,000 signatures in 5 days! Sign the Petition HERE!

To find our more about Congo or the upcoming elections visit the FALLING WHISTLES website (http://www.fallingwhistles.com/).

Help end the war in Congo and be a whistle blower for peace!


Yad L'Achim Exposed

at 9:18 PM

This last week Israel's Channel 1 News aired a special investigative report on the anti-missionary organization, Yad L'Achim. The group is responsible for regular acts of harassment and violence against religious minorities in Israel, especially Messianic Jews. There is even a link between Yad L'Achim and the Jewish terrorist Jack Teitell who is currently being held for multiple acts of hate and violence, including planting the bomb that nearly killed a young Messianic Jewish teenager.

Along with the growth and influence of Yad L'Achim in recent years, there has also been an increase in its chutzpah. It is now taking upon itself to stalk and harass Israeli citizens who are not even connected to a religious minority.

The most telling part of the video is Yad L'Achim's founder, Rabbi Dov Lipshitz, responding to the inquiries of the reporter with the comment:

"The government is using democracy in order to not do what it is supposed to do. They need to decide if this is a Jewish country or a democracy. But they don't always go together - They are not friends."

And all of this is with the full support if Israel's Ministry of Interior. Many Israelis are joining with the voices of Israel's Messianic Jews and others in speaking out against this hate-group.

Watch the Channel 1 News special report here:



Quote of the Day: The Sacrificial System

Mar 30, 2011 at 3:54 PM
"The darkness of the sacrificial order must not be ignored. In sacrifice, man alleviates the darkness of his situation ... Sacrificial Judaism brings the truth of human existence into the Temple. It does not leave it outside its portals. It does not reserve sacred ground only for silent worship. Instead, the bruiting bleeding, dying animal is brought and shown to G-d. This is what our fate is. It is not so much, as is usually said, that we deserved the fate of the dying animal and that we have been permitted to escape this fate by transferring it to the animal. It is rather that our fate and the animal's are the same because its end awaits us, since our eyes, too, will soon gaze as blindly as his and be fixated in deathly attention on what only the dead seem to see and never the living. In the Temple, therefore, it is man who stands before G-d, not man as he would like to be or as he hopes he will be, but as he truly is now, in the realization that he is the object that is his body and that his blood will soon enough flow from his body as well. The subject thus sees himself as a dying object. Enlightened religion recoils from with horror from the thought of sacrifice, preferring a spotless house of worship filled with organ music and exquisitely polite behavior. The price paid for such decorum is that the worshiper must leave the most problematic part of his self outside the temple, to reclaim it when the service is over and to live with it unencumbered by sanctification. Religion ought not to demand such dismemberment of man."

-Dr. Michael Wyschogrod, from his classic book, The Body of Faith, p. 18-19.


Holy Cow!

Mar 25, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Shabbat Parah

This week is a special Shabbat, called Shabbat Parah. It is named after the special maftir reading from Numbers 19 that describes the process for sacrificing the Red Heifer. This portion is always read before the beginning of the Jewish month of Nissan.

In biblical times, every person was required to bring a Korban Pesach, a Passover Sacrifice on the eve of Passover that was to be eaten during the Seder. However, only people who were ritually pure were able to partake of it. Therefore, right before the month of Nissan (the month in which Passover falls) a public announcement would be made that every person who had become impure must purify themselves, and be extremely careful not to become impure before Passover.

The parah aduma (red heifer) represents the quintessential chok (divine decree without any seeming rationale). The ashes of the Red Heifer were used for purification. Through the death of a calf, the Tabernacle, its furnishings, and those who served were purified and ritually cleansed to serve in the presence of G-d. The ashes were also used to purify someone who became ritually impure through contact with a dead body.

In Likutei Halachot, Rebbe Nachman explains why this special portion (Shabbat Parah) is read after Purim. In the course of our victory over Haman-Amalek, we become defiled through contact with death and evil, and need to be purified. The Sfat Emet further explains that tumat met (impurity from the dead) is a function of mortality, which entered the world as a result of the primordial sin of Adam who ate from the tree of knowledge. According to Rabbi Zvi Leshem, man’s desire to be all knowing like G-d, placing the value of knowledge over that of faith, led to his downfall, bringing death and impurity into the world. Ritual purity comes through the willingness to serve HaShem even in a reality permeated by doubts and confusion.

On this Shabbat Parah we focus on a cow. Although this does not make any sense to our rational minds in the modern age, there are significant reasons. For it is not about us, but about HaShem. The purpose of the red heifer is to to bring forth purification and life where there seems only death.



The New Rabbi

Mar 21, 2011 at 2:31 PM

The New Rabbi by Stephen Fried is an absolute MUST READ! I recently finished the book and have been recommending it to a number of other rabbis and leaders. I originally came across the book a few years ago. However, a recent leadership decision prompted me to pick-up the book and read it.

Written by an award-winning investigative journalist, the book chronicles the politics of community, the power of inspirational leaders, the retail business of religion, the yearning for spirituality, and the wonderfully complicated world of American Jews.

Although a work of non-fiction, the book reads like a novel - full of excitement, intrigue, and emotion. Stephen Fried is able to write a book that pulls you into the story and gives you a glimpse into the search process of finding a new rabbi.

The center of this compelling chronicle is Har Zion Temple in Philadelphia, which for the last eighty years has been one of the largest and most influential congregations in America. For thirty years Rabbi Gerald Wolpe was its spiritual leader - a brilliant sermonizer of wide renown. But with the announcement of his retirement, a remarkable nationwide search process is begun. The story of how such a congregation searches for a new leader is largely unknown to the lay world. During this dramatic moment, Wolpe agreed to give extraordinary access to Fried, inviting him - and the reader - into the intense personal and professional life of the clergy and the complex behind-the-scenes life of a major Conservative congregation. The result is a front-row seat at the usually clandestine process of choosing a new rabbi - as what was expected to be a simple search for a successor nearly tears a venerable congregation apart.

If you are part of a search committee looking for a new congregational leader, if you are currently a congregational leader looking to retire, or if you are a newly hired young leader - this book is for you. And even if you are none-of-the-above, but are intrigued at the inner workings of the clergy and the politics of congregational life, you too will enjoy this quick, easy to read, and well-written book.

And make sure to read the paperback which has a new afterward which gives an update on the congregation, the rabbi, and many of the other individuals in the book.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Pick it up and let me know what you think!


Harassment in Arad

Mar 20, 2011 at 9:19 PM

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the
hate-fest in Ashdod directed against Messianic Jews in the city. Recently, similar protests have been held in another Israeli city, Arad. Going back to 2006, Arad has been the location of many violent acts directed against Messianic Jews, especially by the Gur Chassidim. Messianic Jews have been harassed, fired from their jobs, physically attacked, and protested against. This is despite the fact that Messianic Jews are faithful citizens, contribute to the greater good of the country, serve in elite military units, own businesses, and even serve in the government.


Yet, there are individuals and groups within Israel who violently oppose Messianic Jews. Below is a recent news segment from Israel's Channel 1 News on the demonstrations in Arad directed toward Messianic Jews:




Purim: A Sudden Reversal

Mar 18, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Shabbat Zachor

The Shabbat that precedes Purim is called Shabbat Zachor – the Shabbat of Remembrance. For on this Shabbat, there is an added maftir (a different concluding reading) and a different Haftarah reading because we are to recall the Torah command to blot out the memory of the Amalekites.

The sages recognized the direct connection between the command to blot out the memory of Amalek (Deut. 25:17-19) and Purim. Haman, the chief villain of the Purim story is a descendent of Agag (see Esther 3:1). And we learn from the special Haftarah reading this week (1 Samuel 15:1-34) that this is King Agag, the king of the Amalekites during the reign of King Saul.

Thus, the rabbis maintained that this portion should be read right before Purim because Haman was an Amalekite – a descendent of King Agag. Haman continued the same hatred against the Jewish people as his ancestors, the Amalekites, did. Therefore, Purim is not just a deliverance from Haman the individual, but a deliverance from Amalek.

In her commentary on jewschool.com, Alana Vincent raised an additional interesting question regarding the Torah command to “remember what Amalek did to you … (Deut. 25:17)”:

“What does it mean to remember? How on earth am I supposed to remember something that happened thousands of years ago, to someone else? How can we both remember and blot out the remembrance of Amalek? Why go through such terrible mental contortions at all—isn’t it better to just forget?”

Amalek and Purim represent a clear biblical theme of sudden reversal - when G-d turns everything upside down. After all, with all of this talk of wiping out the Amalekites, and the threatened destruction of the Jewish people mentioned in the book of Esther … why do we celebrate? Why is Purim associated with so much joy? As Alana asks, isn’t it better to just forget?

Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair points out that the only difference between a tragedy and a comedy is the ending. The book of Esther is written in the classic style of a comedy. The whole tragedy is turned upside down, Haman is hung on the enormous gallows he himself built, the Jewish people are saved, thousands of Persians convert to Judaism, and a Jewish girl becomes queen of what is now modern day Iran. The irony of the book should be evident.

And yet, Rabbi Sinclair adds that this is what it will be like with the coming of Messiah. It will be a sudden reversal. “When Mashiach comes, he will come in an instant and things will be turned upside down in a second just like Purim.”

We must always remember … and … never forget. We must never forget our past and struggles, and yet we must remember that redemption is near, for Mashiach is coming.

Chag Sameach!


Quote of the Day

Mar 16, 2011 at 9:08 AM

The Rabbis teach that in messianic times, "when all the other festivals will be abolished, Purim will remain." (Midrash Mishle 9:2) Why?

Why is this strange, party-strewn, hero and villain tale so powerful that it must never disappear? Perhaps the secret is that Purim is the only holiday set aside for laughter. Skits, sketches, revelry, joking — these are all part of Purim. Purim occurs in Adar, the month when, the Rabbis tells us, we are invariably joyful. Of all the things that mark human life — pain, seeking, questioning, spirituality, hope — could it be that laughter alone abides?

In the Talmud, (Ta'anit 22a) we read that a certain Rav Beroka once met Elijah the prophet in the marketplace. Visitations from Elijah are periodically recorded in rabbinic literature. Elijah brings wisdom and counsel to this world. Rav Beroka asks who of those in the marketplace will inherit the world to come. Elijah points to two men.

Rav Beroka wants to figure out what accomplishment separates these two from their fellows. "What is your occupation?" Rav Beroka asks.

They answer: "We are jesters. We make the sad laugh, and when we see two people arguing, we try to make peace between them." Happy Purim, forever.

-Rabbi David Wolpe from this week's "Off the Pulpit."


Esther the Superhero

Mar 15, 2011 at 7:20 PM

What little girl doesn't want to wear a Queen Esther costume for Purim? She's the paragon of our every dream - the beauty of all Jewish beauties, the savior of the Jewish people, the dutiful niece of great Mordechai ...

I remember feeling slightly competitive with the other little girls in my shul when they showed up in Esther costumes, as well. The nerve! I'm the daughter of the President of the Board. Doesn't she know better?!?! In defense, I adopted Vashti as my Purim alter ego, and imagined her as an enlightened feminist with too much dignity to put up with her dopey king. There was never any competition there in the costume category.

Secretly, though, I've never given up my admiration for Esther. So I'm particular delighted that she's been recast as a Jewish superhero in the wake of recent fanfare over the role of Jews in the comic book industry.

It all started with Arie Kaplan's book, From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books. Published in 2008, his book inspired the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles to open ZAP! POW! BAM!, an exhibit documenting "the genesis of cultural icons such as Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, and Wonder Woman." Wonder who was behind these characters? Yup, Yids.

Two years ago, we brought our synagogue's youth group to the above exhibit, and were stunned to see artwork (published well before the United States' intervention in WWII) of Captain America and other comic book heroes battling Hitler and other Nazi villains. Turns out these poor Jewish kids growing up on the East side of Manhattan in the 30s and 40s found their creative outlet in the comics, and their depiction of Jews as superheroes shaped an entire generation.

Well, all this superhero hullabaloo inspired Hayley Siegel at Jewcy to reflect on the "real" Jewish superheroes, in a blog post titled "What it means to be a Jewish Superhero." My little Esther-loving heart is twitterpated. Here's an excerpt:
Within both Jewish tradition and comic books, there comes a pivotal moment when every hero must step into his/her destiny and take charge of his/her obligation to help those in need. However, during these moments of change and transition, a hero oftentimes has to negotiate for the opportunity to save the day! Once these characters openly convey their heroic intentions, they find the courage to step into swift action when the time calls. For example ... in Megillat Esther, Queen Esther comes forward with the admission of her Jewish identity to the King. Esther's confession, which comes just at the right moment, saves the entire Jewish nation from the perilous schemes of Haman. In the world of comic books, we find that superheroes such as Spiderman, Superman, and Batman initially run away from their heroic duties. However, after they complete honest conversations with loved ones and supporters (like Esther!), each character eventually acknowledges that they must utilize their powers for tikkun olam (repair of the world).
Maybe next year I'll wear an Esther costume ... with some Wonder Woman power cuffs for added measure.


A Prayer for Japan

at 12:20 PM

The situation in Japan only seems to be getting worse. The eathquakes and tsunami last week devastated the country, leaving thousands dead and many, many more wounded and trapped. Now we also have the possible threat of a nuclear disaster to add to the mix. If Japan ever needed our prayers and support it is certainly now.

Mechon Hadar posted a prayer, written by Rabbi Shai Held, for those suffering in Japan on their website. I would greatly encourage us to use (or adapt) the text of this prayer while praying for Japan both within our own private davening, and in our services this coming Shabbat:

Ruler of Creation, Master of the World

אבינו שבשמים, אדון כל המעשים, רבון כל העולמים

Have mercy on all those who are suffering from the raging waters and the storming waves.

רחם על כל אלה הסובלים מן המים הגועשים והגלים הרועשים


Have compassion on Your creatures - Look, O Lord, and see their distress; Listen, God, and hear their cries.

חמול על מעשיך - הביטה יי וראה צרתם, האזינה אלוהים ושמע צעקתם.


Strengthen the hands of those who would bring relief, comfort the mourners; Heal, please, the wounded.

חזק את ידי המצילים, נחם את האבלים, רפא נא לפצועים.


Grant us wisdom and discernment to know our obligations, and open our hearts so that we may extend our hands to the devastated.

חָננו בינה והשכל לידע את חובותינו, ופתח את לבינו למען נושיט יד אל הנדכּאים.


Bless us so that we may walk in Your ways, "compassionate ones, children of compassionate ones."

ברכינו אלוהינו ונלך בדרכיך, רחמנים בני רחמנים.

Grant us the will and the wisdom to prevent future disaster and death;

תן בנו אומץ וחכמה למען נמנע אסון ומות.

Prevent plague from descending upon Your earth, and fulfill Your words,


מנע מגיפה בעולמיך, וקיים מאמריך

"Never again shall there be another flood to destroy the earth."

וְלֹא־יִהְיֶה עוֺד מַבּוּל לְשַׁחֵת הָא

Amen. So may it be your will.

אמן. כן יהי רצון



Giving

There are also a number of ways to donate to help the victims in Japan. Here are a few recommended resources: