A Weekly Message from Rabbi Sam Levine 8.27.21

August 27, 2021


In our Wednesday night Elul sessions, we have been compiling a tool-box of strategies for making the High Holy Day season and the coming year more meaningful. Last week, we looked at one of the Torah portions for Rosh Hashanah and discussed the idea of “seeing others” and “being seen.” 

This past Wednesday, we looked at two more tools. We looked at some of Maimonides’ writings on the subject of forgiveness and tried to imagine how they might apply to specific examples in our lives. Then we looked at a remarkable text from the Talmud which models the skill of not-jumping-to-assume-the-worst-about-someone, even under circumstances where that would be the natural response. The over-arching theme is of softening; achieving radical change, especially on a deadline – “I must change my behavior by Yom Kippur!” – is not realistic, but if we can come to soften our stance toward other people and ourselves even a little, we will have opened a door to meaningful change that could ease our burdens in the coming year. It’s a complicated business, but growth begins by planting seeds and letting the tender shoots come up. As we read in the passage from the Talmud, “a person should always be soft like a reed and not hard like a cedar.” I will be taking these ideas with me into the sanctuary when I stand up to pray. We could all use a little softening right now.

Shabbat shalom um’vorach, a peaceful and blessed Shabbat,

Rabbi Sam Levine

And a few quick announcements:

  1. Acosta-Molina Shabbat postponed

  2. Machzors/Prayer Books for High Holy Days

  3. Home health-care workers – HELP

  4. High Holy Day tickets

  5. Holiday schedule and Zoom links

  1. We have moved the date for the visit from the Acosta-Molina family. The family is eager to come see us, meet us, and thank us for our continuing support, but we realized that this coming Shabbat didn’t make sense with so many people being away. Instead, the family will come to us on the morning of Sunday the 19th, the day we decorate the Sukkah. That will be a more festive occasion, with people of all ages, especially kids, and more to do. Come out and meet them, and while you’re there, help fulfill the vital mitzvah of building the sukkah (or at least decorating it!).

  2. If you need a copy of the Silverman machzor (High Holy Day prayerbook), they are available for pickup (no charge) in the lobby of the synagogue. Please try to return them after the holidays.

  3. If you can recommend any home-health-care providers, whether individuals or agencies, please let me know. We have a congregant, coming home soon from a spell in a rehab facility, who is in need of a good recommendation. You can email me privately at salevine66@gmail.com.

  4. If you have not arranged for your High Holy Day tickets, this coming week would be a good time to do it. For the sake of the office and the HH Ticket committee, let’s avoid a mad rush on Erev Rosh Hashanah! 

  5. The schedule for all September/Tishrei holidays and events will be released today. There are numerous opportunities for gathering and celebrating, so please have a careful look and pencil-in on your calendar as desired.  All Zoom links for all holiday services will be released late next week – rest assured you will get them in time.