Mina's Musings

Sermons and other thoughts from Rabbi Michelle (Mina) Goldsmith

Ha'azinu 2016

Fri, 10/21/2016 - 10:33am -- Rabbi Mina

I received a lovely note from a congregant the other day in which she complimented me on a sermon I had recently delivered.  I thanked her for the compliment and said, please let me know if there was any negative feedback because I need that too.  She immediately wrote me back with the ways I could improve, and ended the note with a smiley face.  I sent her a second note thanking her for that feedback as well, since we all need both positive and negative feedback in order to grow.

Yom Kippur 2016

Thu, 10/20/2016 - 12:45pm -- Rabbi Mina
Silence and Apathy Towards our Fellow Jews -- Boker tov, good morning, and g’mar hatimah Tovah to each of you. A short while ago we read from the Torah, the same words we read every year on Yom Kippur. The reading is taken from parashat Aharei Mot, and begins with the words: וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָֹה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה אַֽחֲרֵי מוֹת שְׁנֵי בְּנֵי אַֽהֲרֹן בְּקָרְבָתָם לִפְנֵֽי־יְהוָֹה וַיָּמֻֽתוּ: “Adonai spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they drew too close to the presence of Adonai.” The story of the death of Aaron’s two sons is one which confounds us to this day. What exactly did they do that caused them to die? Why do we begin our Torah reading on Yom Kippur, our day of atonement, with a reminder of their tragic deaths? If the point of the day is atonement, why don’t we begin the Torah reading two verses later with the description of the purification offering instead of with a reminder of this terrible tragedy?

Kol Nidrei 2016

Thu, 10/20/2016 - 11:33am -- Rabbi Mina
Predicting A Change for the Better -- According to Wikipedia, on September 9, 1991 Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the world-wide leader of Chabad, predicted that the Messiah would come by Rosh Hashanah of that year – which just happened to fall on September 11, 1991. Eight years later, in 1999, Rabbi Philip Berg, the dean of the worldwide Kabbalah Center at the time, predicted that on September 11th of that year “a ball of fire (will) [would] descend, destroying almost all of mankind, all vegetation, [&] all forms of life.” Rabbi Berg was as incorrect about the apocalypse as Rabbi Schneerson was about the messiah.....

Mina's Musings: Rosh Hashanah Second Day 2016

Thu, 10/06/2016 - 10:29am -- Rabbi Mina
We Need Each Other to Disagree With: Shanah Tovah. Not too long ago we recited the words of the Prayer for the State of Israel. We said: אָבִֽינוּ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַֽיִם, צוּר יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגוֹאֲלוֹ, בָּרֵךְ אֶת מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, רֵאשִׁית צְמִיחַת גְּאֻלָּתֵֽנוּ. Our father in heaven, Rock and Redeemer of the people Israel, Bless the State of Israel the beginning of the flowering of our redemption.....

Mina's Musings: Rosh Hashanah First Day 2016

Thu, 10/06/2016 - 10:23am -- Rabbi Mina
Rosh Hashanah 2016 – Questions that Can Change Your Life: Many years ago I read the story of Isidore Isaac Rabi, the winner of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1944. When asked why he became a scientist, he said, “My mother made me a scientist without ever knowing it. Every other child would come back from school and be asked, ‘What did you learn today?’ But my mother used to say, ‘Izzy, did you ask a good question today?’ That made the difference. Asking good questions made me into a scientist.”.....

Mina's Musings: Ki Tavo 2016

Wed, 10/05/2016 - 10:36am -- Rabbi Mina
Mitzvoth, the Afterlife, and Us: Shabbat Shalom. I had two very interesting conversation this week, both of which touched upon one of the things I think is most unique about Judaism. The first conversation was with a congregant and their non-Jewish spouse. Among the many topics we discussed was the Jewish view of the after-life. The very next day I had the opportunity to speak with a couple of lovely young women who are students at George Mason who, as part of their World Religions class, were asked to visit a synagogue and ask certain questions about Judaism.....

Mina's Musings: Ki Tetzei 2016

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 2:33pm -- Rabbi Mina
Ki Tetzei, Anti-Semitism on Campus, Amalek, and Our Obligations: This past Sunday I met for the first time with the confirmation class of 2017. As most teachers do on the first day, I tried to get to know my students a little. I asked them their names, where they go to high school, and then asked them to share what the most difficult thing they’ve ever experienced because they are Jews. The responses were not what I expected....

Mina's Musings: Re'eh 2016

Thu, 09/08/2016 - 2:36pm -- Rabbi Mina
Currently on the radio I have been hearing a song entitled Let It Go by James Bay. It's not the Let it Go from Frozen, no, this song is a little sad as it is definitely a break-up song. However, the refrain is quite catchy and in the second half of the song there is a stanza that I believe is quite powerful. The words are: “I used to recognize myself....

Mina's Musings: Ekev 2016

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 11:51am -- Rabbi Mina
Ekev, the Second Paragraph of the Shema, & Middle Child Syndrome - Last Shabbat those of us who were present were treated to a very interesting and thought provoking look at the first paragraph of the Shema as explained by our congregant Ken Cliffer. Since we are experts now on the first paragraph, it seems fitting that just a short while ago during this morning’s Torah reading we chanted the second paragraph of the Shema. Now let’s be honest......
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