Rabbi Jim’s Podcast

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Behar 5771 - On the Mountain of Meaning

May 16th, 2011

So the bad guy is dead...now what?  While several rush to attach a meaning to bin Laden's death, what does it really mean or is his death meaningless when the liberties we thought were promised to us as Americans are...denied...stolen...or treated as anachronisms?

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Kedoshim 5771-Nobility, Nobels, Nightmares and…Hope

May 1st, 2011

The images from this week were truly amazing.  Royal weddings, massive destruction, and this week we read the Torah portion concerning how God defines holiness in our Torah.  Funny thing about holiness and nobility, at least God's definition, it is not what we usually associate with such words, rather it involves the actions of all...will it include you?

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V’Yikrah 5771-Questions We Should Consider About the Muslim Hearings

March 12th, 2011

I was not alive for the McCarthy hearings, but they seemed to have the effect of turning Americans against Americans which is something most would consider un-American.  Our country has put itself forward many times as one of the places that upholds freedom and justice, thus I found it disturbing to hear about the proceedings conducted by Rep. Peter King this week.  Even more ironic that most scientific data shows that such hearings are not focusing on the real threat as was reported on NPR's Hear and Now.  So why do we need to have such hearings?  Are they about facts...or is there something deeper at work...and what might that have to do with a Torah portion about sacrifices?

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Egypt and a Tabernacle in the Desert

February 5th, 2011

When we think of our sacred structures, (synagogue, mosque, church) we often think of them as ends in and of themselves.  This week's Torah portion comes to remind us that religious structures are really vehicles for the greater connection to God we all strive to achieve.  That ability to connect to something greater seems to have been lost in the Middle East this week as we have seen a wave of riots and instability sweep across the region.  Why does God command that a Tabernacle be built so that God may dwell among the people...why do previously 'stable' governments find their people at odds or almost completely disconnected?  What might this mean for Israel and America?

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Empty Chairs Filled with Hope - V’yigash 5771

December 20th, 2010

The Empty Chairs we have in our lives can signal many things.  For Jacob it must have been difficult to see a place empty of Joseph every time the family gathered together.  In our day, an empty chair can be both a symbol of loss...and of hope.

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Defined by Our Wounds - Va’Yishlakh 5771

November 22nd, 2010

When we hurt we often don't focus on the choices before, rather we focus on the pain.  Jacob is wounded in this week's Torah portion, yet at the same time he is also blessed by the 'Eish' he wrestles in the middle of the night.  So, is it our wounds that define us, or is it the decisions that we make after we survive the wound?  These scars are not just to be found on our bodies, but even within our social fabric.

Beyond anger, there are many choices regarding how we respond to the wounds and scars of life.  How we respond to them is how we find our way to the blessings we might be.

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Mimus Polyglottos - Yom Kippur Morning 5771

October 12th, 2010

I grew up in Monroeville, Alabama.  The only claim to fame that Monroeville has is that it is the setting for the fictional town presented in the book To Kill A Mockingbird. The question for us today is are we, too becoming mockingbirds?  Do we become all too ready to repeat the answers that we think that are right, but fail to think about what is truly correct?  Do we often admire and believe that our admiration will make a difference, but find that we are only the audience to those who make a true difference?  It is time to think, consider...and reflect.

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Kol Nidre 5771-To Love Our Neighbors…

October 2nd, 2010

When it comes to the issues facing the United States on the topic of religion, it has become very difficult to have conversations without emotions.  Even survivors of the events of 9/11 argue over what is the correct course of action regarding the proposed Islamic Center in New York.  When it comes to the proposed burning of Korans by a Florida minister, we all held our breath, hoping that such an act would never happen.  Oddly, that moment has a connection to my first student pulpit in McGehee, Arkansas.  Maybe,... just maybe, McGehee had something to teach our country about how religions should act towards each other.

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Wanted! A Prophetic Paradigm Shift - Rosh Hashannah Day

September 28th, 2010

It is hard to imagine, but at several points in history Jews and Arabs have managed to come together and do sacred work.  It started when Isaac and Ishmael went to bury their father Abraham.  What seemed natural then appears to be almost impossible today.

This summer I began to be worried when read an article by Peter Beinart about the state of Zionism among American Jewish liberals.  It was followed by a sharp attack by Noah Pollack in Commentary Magazine. These two gentlemen were then interviewed on Radio Times and it was weird to say the least.  The stalemate in the Jewish conversation about peace and the problem with Iran may be creating more danger by sending the wrong message to our enemies.  At this point in time, we need a new paradigm, a different way of thinking about the problem that is new, innovative, and changes the landscape of the issues.

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RH Eve - Our Homes and Our Values

September 22nd, 2010

This Rosh Hashannah I wanted to share the idea that our values are the real foundations of our homes.  As we go through life, we often take our values with us whether it is praying with our feet, to the value that we place on our Judaism, home is an interpretation of our most deeply held sense of importance.

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