Matot-Masei 5772: Finding Pride Inside -- Learning Talmud in Korea?

July 20, 2012

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

A question about Jewish life in the Diaspora, particularly America: why is it that if you want Jews to feel good about their Judaism the best way to do it is to have someone who is not Jewish compliment us or imitate us?

Since you are here in shul tonight you probably already know that Judaism is a wonderful religious and cultural world in and of itself, that it has wisdom that the world needs, that our ethical teachings are the basis for all of Western Civilization, and that our holidays and rituals are beautiful, meaningful, and inspiring.

Read more: Matot-Masei 5772: Finding Pride Inside -- Learning Talmud in Korea?

Va'etchanan 5772: Love God, Love Your Neighbor

July 27, 2012

Rabbi Jason Holtz, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

Hear, Israel: Adonai is our God, Adonai is One!

As long as everyone already has their prayer books put away, I'd like to start this sermon with a one question, multiple choice quiz. Here it goes:

What is Judaism about?

a) Serving God, principally by doing mitzvot, commandments

b) Building and maintaining strong, ethical, caring relationships between people

Let's talk about the possible answers. For all of you who guessed "a," "Serving God," you can make a very strong case.

Read more: Va'etchanan 5772: Love God, Love Your Neighbor

D'varim/Chazon 5772: Olympic Vision

July 27, 2012

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

This is the Shabbat immediately before Tisha B'Av, called Shabbat Hazon, meaning the Sabbath of vision, and it is named for the Haftarah that is chanted tomorrow. That prophecy is the first from the greatest of the literary prophets, Isaiah, and it begins its somber words of warning of imminent destruction with the phrase Chazon Yishayahu ben Amotz, this is the vision of Isaiah... It is always chanted on the Shabbat of D'varim, the beginning of Deuteronomy, and it always precedes Tisha B'Av, the 9th of the Hebrew calendar month of Av, perhaps the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.

Actually, tonight, technically begins the actual 9th day of the month of Av. But when a fast day that is not Yom Kippur falls on the Sabbath we move it a day, so that our Shabbat joy is not diminished. After all, the Oneg Shabbat on a fast day would be quite limited...

Read more: D'varim/Chazon 5772: Olympic Vision

Eikev 5772: Cardiac Judaism - The Lessons of the Heart

August 10, 2012

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

Do you know this classic joke? There used to be a lot of them like this.

An Orthodox, a Conservative, and a Reform rabbi are each asked whether one is supposed to say a brochah over a lobster.

The Orthodox rabbi asks, "What is this...'lobster'...thing?" The Conservative rabbi says that some say no, some say yes. The Reform rabbi says, "What's a brochah?"

Here's another one:

What are the main differences between Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism?

At an orthodox wedding, the mother of the bride is pregnant.

At a conservative wedding, the bride is pregnant.

At a reform wedding, the rabbi is pregnant.

Read more: Eikev 5772: Cardiac Judaism - The Lessons of the Heart

Re'eh 5772: Banking on Blessing

August 17, 2012

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

Shabbat Shalom. I know it's unbelievable, but public school started over a week ago, Religious School begins this coming week, and the High Holidays are coming up in just over a month. We bless the new month of Elul on this Shabbat because Rosh Chodesh Elul is Sunday, the beginning of the last month of the Jewish year. It's the time of year for us to think about the state of our relationships, to prepare to do a cheshbon hanefesh, an accounting of the state of our souls, to reflect on where we are in our lives, where we are headed, where we've been.

We are beginning the yearly journey of getting ready for the chagim, the Jewish fall holidays, examining the choices we continually make and the way our choices have worked out for us in the past year.

Read more: Re'eh 5772: Banking on Blessing

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