From the Bimah: Jewish Lessons for Life

“Entering into a Brit Hashem, Together” with special guest Rabbi Becky Silverstein

An episode of From the Bimah: Jewish Lessons for Life

By Temple Emanuel in Newton
About
Bringing weekly Jewish insights into your life. Join Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz, Rabbi Michelle Robinson and Rav-Hazzan Aliza Berger of Temple Emanuel in Newton, MA as they share modern ancient wisdom.
More places to listen
Bringing weekly Jewish insights into your life. Join Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz, Rabbi Michelle Robinson and Rav-Hazzan Aliza Berger of Temple Emanuel in Newton, MA as they share modern ancient wisdom.
www.templeemanuel.com

More places to listen

Gratitude Is Not Just a Feeling with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
Jon Levenson, a professor of Bible at Harvard, offers a rich hypothetical that I have shared with you before, and which I share again now because it goes to the heart of the meaning of the holiday of Thanksgiving. Imagine you are driving to the airport on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving.  It is  4:00, bumper to bumper traffic.  You are in the tunnel and, oh no, your car dies.  Just dies.  You turn on and off the ignition, you pray, you start sweating profusely.  People are honking, cursing at you.  It is already one of the heaviest traffic days of the year, and now it is even more jammed because your car is stuck.  You are stuck.  You have no idea what to do.  OK, you’ll call AAA.  You reach for your phone, but it is out of juice, it is one of those days, the honking gets louder and louder.  Help!! Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/gratitude-is-not-just-a-feeling/
14:48
November 30, 2019
The Tested One is Also the Blessed One with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
I want to play a new game with you this morning, Jewish trivial pursuit.  I am going to ask you two simple questions about the Hebrew Bible, and the winner gets a free bagel at kiddush this morning. First question, what character in the Hebrew Bible is most associated with blessing?  The word blessing, berakhah, is prominently and repeatedly associated with his story? Second question, what character in the Hebrew Bible, more than any other, is tested?  This character is tested so frequently, and so painfully, that there is a midrash speaking to the ten tests, or ten trials, or ten ordeals, of this character? The answer to the first question is…Abraham. The answer to the second question is…Abraham. The answer to both questions is Abraham.  The blessed one is also the tested one.  The tested one is also the blessed one. Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/the-tested-one-is-also-the-blessed-one/
17:47
November 16, 2019
When Suffering and Blessing Are Inexplicably Intertwined: Reflections on the First Yahrtzeit of the Pittsburgh Massacre with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
Do you remember where you were when you first learned of the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last year, a year ago tomorrow, October 27, 2018?  I remember exactly where I was.  I was right here.  It was Shabbat morning, in the middle of services, and from the bimah I could see a restless energy, an edge, in the people in the pews that I had never seen before.  Soon enough I would learn that people’s cell phones were going off, telling them that the massacre had happened, during Shabbat morning services, at a sister Conservative shul, in Pittsburgh. Here we are, a year later.  We are on the eve of the first yahrtzeit of the Pittsburgh massacre, the worst bloodshed of American Jews in American Jewish history. Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/when-suffering-and-blessing-are-inexplicably-intertwined-reflections-on-the-first-yahrtzeit-of-the-pittsburgh-massacre/
18:24
October 26, 2019
Something Left to Prove? with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
Is it a good thing to go through life always feeling that you have something left to prove?  Or do you ever reach a point where the healthier move is to say: you know what, I have nothing left to prove? You are a tenured professor in your chosen field for 20 years.  You have authored definitive works in your field.  You cannot get fired except for moral turpitude.  When you go to your classroom on Monday morning, what is the healthier mindset:  I have something left to prove, or I have nothing left to prove. Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/something-left-to-prove/
17:57
October 19, 2019
Overnight Millionaire with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
Next time you are hungry, next time you need a quick pick up, consider eating a protein bar known as an Rx Bar.  It comes in a variety of attractive packages and delicious flavors.  Blueberry, Maple Sea Salt, Mango Pineapple, Chocolate Sea Salt, Chocolate Chip, to name just a few.  I live on them, though I am not getting a commission from the Rx Bar company for this sermon. Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/overnight-millionaire/
17:27
October 17, 2019
Love with Rabbi Michelle Robinson
A rabbi once heard about a preacher who gained notoriety by giving the world’s longest sermon.  Not wanting to duplicate that feat, and, perhaps more importantly, not wanting to put everyone in shul to sleep, the rabbi decided to preach the world’s shortest sermon instead. In the weeks leading up to the holidays, he shared the big news with the congregation in e-blasts, social media, and in person.  Come to shul – and hear the shortest sermon ever!  Sitting down to write, though, he realized the task was harder than it sounded.  How to say something meaningful, something impactful, something true, while at the same time making it short?  As Rosh Hashanah drew closer and closer, he found himself living iconic mathematician Blaise Pascal’s words that he would have written a shorter letter, but he didn’t have enough time. Follow this link to the view the sermon on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-michelle-robinson/love-2/
15:10
October 5, 2019
Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz interviews Pre-Neilah Speaker, Pastor Jeremy Battle
Pastor Jeremy D. Battle, from the Western Avenue Baptist Church is a third-generation pastor hailing from Brighton, Alabama. Pastor Battle lives by the personal mantra, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Tune in to hear more about Pastor Jeremy Battle in his own words and hear him on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 4:00pm.
46:49
September 27, 2019
Rebbe, Please Give Me Fervor! with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
Once, there lived amongst us a man with the stature of a prophet, a man with the moral vision of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.   His name was Elie Wiesel, and he taught for years just a few miles from here at Boston University. In his book Witness, which is about Elie Wiesel’s teaching at BU, Ariel Burger, his student for 25 years, tells a story that Elie Wiesel shared in class.  The story concerned a man named Isaac Babel, who was both a Jew and a lieutenant in the Russian cavalry.  That cavalry was a fierce fighting force conquering a lot of areas where Jews used to live in the Pale of Settlement.  Isaac Babel himself had a reputation for being a fierce, even bloodthirsty, fighter.  He embodies this enigma.  He is Jewish. And at the same a Russian military man who is about to conquer Jewish towns. Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/rebbe-please-give-me-fervor/
15:16
September 25, 2019
Be Like Taylor Swift’s Seventh Album, Not Her Sixth with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
I want to talk about two words I have never uttered from this bimah. Taylor Swift.  Taylor Swift is dramatically germane to the moment in which we now find ourselves. As you know, Taylor Swift is one of the best-selling, most popular singer songwriters of all time.  She has sold more than 50 million albums.  She has won 10 Grammy Awards.  Her first five albums were all huge, runaway hits, full of simple and catchy tunes that dealt with universal themes like falling in love and fear of rejection. Then came her sixth album, Reputation.  That is where things got very interesting. Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/be-like-taylor-swifts-seventh-album-not-her-sixth/
16:05
September 14, 2019
“Entering into a Brit Hashem, Together” with special guest Rabbi Becky Silverstein
Tune in as Rav-Hazzan Aliza Berger interviews Rabbi Becky Silverstein on his upcoming Parshat Nitzvaim “Entering into a Brit Hashem, Together,” and his journey to becoming a Rabbi. Rabbi Becky will be joining us on Shabbat morning, September 28th. You can learn more here https://www.templeemanuel.com/event/entering-into-a-brit-hashem-together/
37:51
September 12, 2019
Take Your Best Shot with Rav Hazzan Aliza Berger
Recently I came upon an article in the New York Times which took my breath away titled, “He was shot and paralyzed 37 years ago. That’s not how the story ends.” Thirty-seven years ago, thirteen-year-old Jeff Williams was hanging out with his brother and a friend, Maury, in the Bronx when the unthinkable happened.  Maury got out his uncle’s gun and started showing it off: spinning the chamber and pointing the it around the room. Jeff’s brother, Reggie, tried to convince Maury to put the gun down. But Maury insisted it was perfectly safe, pulling the trigger to prove the point. It wasn’t safe, though. The gun was loaded. Jeff collapsed. Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-aliza-berger/take-your-best-shot/
13:42
August 31, 2019
"The Jewish American Paradox" with author Robert Mnookin
Tune is as Rabbi Michelle Robinson interviews Robert Mnookin, author of "The Jewish American Paradox: Embracing Choice in a Changing World." Robert Mnookin is an American lawyer, author, and the Samuel Williston Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He will be kicking off our year of adult learning at Temple Emanuel on Sunday, September 15th. Check out his book and join in on a lecture and Q&A with Mnookin himself! Learn more here: https://www.templeemanuel.com/event/adult-education-opening-lecture/
40:16
August 27, 2019
Nachus: A Reinterpretation with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin authored a book called Jewish Humor: What the Best Jewish Jokes Say About the Jews.  In a section about parents and children, he shares the following: Two Jewish women who haven’t see each other in twenty years run into each other on the street. “How’s your daughter Deborah?” the first woman asks, “the one who marriedthat lawyer.” “They were divorced,” the second woman answers. “Oh, I’m so sorry.” “But she got married a second time, this time to a surgeon.” “Mazal Tov!” “They were also divorced.” At this point the first woman decides to keep her mouth shut.  “But now everything is all right,” her friend goes on.  “She’s married a third time, now to an architect—and he’s very successful.” The first woman shakes her head from side to side. “Mmmm, mmmm, So much nachus from one daughter!” Now in some ways this joke is obviously dated.  The gender norms, the premise that the job of a daughter is to get married off to a successful professional, is not only dated but offensive.  And yet, for all that, there are two truths about this joke that are not dated.  Two truths  that are timeless. Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/nachus-a-reinterpretation/
15:32
August 24, 2019
Sending Thoughts and Prayers with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
Whenever there is a mass shooting in our country, including last Saturday in El Paso and Dayton, there is this civic ritual where leaders of both parties say that they are sending thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.  How are we to understand this?  Is this helpful? There is a cynical read. We send thoughts and prayers in lieu of action.  We send thoughts and prayers in lieu of fixing the problem, which is why the nightmare of mass shootings in our country continually recurs.  I get the cynical read. It has a certain plausibility. But this morning I want to try to make the case for a non-cynical read.  I want to try to make the case that thoughts and prayers are not only helpful, but essential. Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/sending-thoughts-and-prayers/
17:09
August 10, 2019
Believe Me When I Tell You Who I Am with Rav Hazzan Aliza Berger
The other day, I was listening to an episode of This American Life titled “Save the Girl,” documenting all sorts of crazy stories of people swooping in to save damsels in distress, when I heard the most unbelievable story. Yong Xiong grew up in Laos, part of the ethnic Hmong minority. A few years ago, she met the man of her dreams at a New Year’s party. They fell in love. They decided to get married. Because the love of her life is a naturalized US citizen living in Minneapolis, their love story involved lots of government appointments and official paperwork. After months and months of proving their relationship, filing all of the correct forms, and waiting for the appropriate government officials to grant them permission, Yong received a fiancé visa and found herself on a plane to meet her beloved. Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-aliza-berger/believe-me-when-i-tell-you-who-i-am/
16:42
July 27, 2019
Go Fish with Rav Hazzan Aliza Berger
When I was still swiping for dates, I had a strict no-fisherman policy. Any time I saw someone posed with a large, freshly caught fish, I swiped no. No matter how cute they were, no matter how smart or Jewishly engaged, I was convinced there was no way I would ever fall in love with someone who liked to torture small, scaly animals for sport. Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-aliza-berger/go-fish/
12:22
July 13, 2019
Piano Concertos and Prophecy with Rav Hazzan Aliza Berger
Sergei Rachmaninoff was arguably one of the best pianists ever. He was a virtuoso, with giant hands that could easily grasp complex harmonies and move with lightning speed up and down the keyboard. He was not only a performer but also a compositional genius; he could coax the most nuanced sounds from the piano. Maybe because his own internal landscape was filled with dramatic ups and downs, or maybe just because of his musical brilliance, he had a special ability to write music that creates emotional experience. Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-aliza-berger/piano-concertos-and-prophecy/
12:23
June 22, 2019
Shavuot: The Spiritual Assignment with Rav Hazzan Aliza Berger
Growing up, my Aunt Vanessa was my hero. Whenever we saw her, it seemed like she was just coming back from some herculean triathlon or from an epic marathon through the Colorado mountains. She was fearless. Every year, she would take us to the amusement parks and would gladly ride all the scariest rides with my sister and younger cousin. (I never had the guts to join them.) In the kitchen, she had this sixth sense.  She could coax the most incredible flavors out of fresh ingredients and made the most gourmet foods with seeming ease. And she was super mom. She went back to school as she was mothering her first child and pregnant with her second. And even though she was running around with her son all day and just studying at night, she graduated with honors, first in her class, and went on to become a stellar labor and delivery nurse. She would wake up before the sun and spent her days at the hospital, helping women to find their own strength and capacity to bring new life into the world.  It wasn’t long before Vanessa was asked to teach nursing and to mentor new nurses as they began their careers. Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-aliza-berger/shavuot-the-spiritual-assignment/
07:52
June 10, 2019
Ugandan Human Rights Activist, Qwin Mbabazi, Celebrates One Year of Political Asylum in Boston.
Ugandan Human Rights Activist, Qwin Mbabazi, Celebrates One Year of Political Asylum in Boston. Join Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz and Rav Hazzan Aliza Berger as they sit down with Qwin who shares her story of life as a LGBTQ activist in Uganda and how she found refuge in America. She was persecuted as a child because she was born left-handed in a culture where left-hand dominance is considered the work of the devil. She was persecuted as a teen and as a young adult because she was born gay in a country where being gay was legally a death sentence until 2013. Uganda remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be LGBTQ. And despite this persecution, Qwin had a clear sense of self and a clear sense of purpose from an early age. Read the press release here:  https://www.templeemanuel.com/in-the-news/temple-emanuel-fetes-ugandan-activists-year-of-political-asylum/ 
43:54
June 7, 2019
Linden Tree with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
The story is told of the time that the Pope and the Prime Minister of Israel decided to deepen the relationship between the Vatican and the Jewish state by co-cohosting a friendly golf game that would be played by premier Catholic and Jewish golfers.  The Pope invited Jack Nicklaus to be the Vatican representative.  Jack Nicklaus is a devout Catholic and a great golfer.  After the golf game, Jack Nicklaus goes to the Vatican to report. Your Holiness, I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that I played the best golf I have ever played. God was with me like never before.  My play was inspired from above. Then what is the bad news? The bad news is that I lost by three strokes to Rabbi Tiger Woods. Unfortunately, today, relations between Jews and the non-Jewish world are no laughing matter.   Follow this link to view the sermon and watch the live streaming version on our website  https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/linden-tree/ 
21:59
June 1, 2019
The Real Yous with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
One day a fifth grader gets sent home from school for taking another student’s pencil.   When he gets home, his  father says why in the world would you take another student’s pencil? We don’t steal in this family.  Your mother and I have taught you better values than that.  We expect more from you than that. From now on, if you need a pencil, just tell me.  I’ll bring them home from the office! This story is told by Dan Ariely, an Israeli, and a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University who wrote a book with an evocative title:  The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves. Ariely argues that there is a creative tension within everyone of us.  On the one hand, we want to be decent, honest human beings. We want to be mensches.  That’s the father who wants to teach his child not to steal. On the other hand, it is human nature to want more, which can lead us to get close to the line or to cross the line.  When we cross the line, we rationalize our decisions in order to justify them.   That’s the father taking pencils home from work. Follow this link to view the sermon on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/the-real-yous/
15:28
May 25, 2019
Pushed and Pulled with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
There is a preacher named T.D. Jakes, the pastor of a non-denominational megachurch in Dallas, who saw something in the book of Deuteronomy that I had never seen.   It comes from Moses’ poetic speech in parshat haazinu, in which Moses observes nesher yair kino, a mother eagle stirs its baby eagles who are happily at rest in their nest.  This is the climax of Moses’ life. This is the end of the Torah.  This is Moses’ closing argument. Why is he talking about nests? Pastor Jakes’ answer is that while nests are comfortable, that baby eagle cannot soar until it leaves the nest.  This is not only a problem for baby eagles. It is a problem for all of us. We love our nests.  We love our safe spaces. We love our comfort zone.  But comfortable can become too comfortable. Familiar can become too familiar. Safe and secure can become too safe and secure in ways that prevent us from soaring, from becoming who we are meant to become. Follow this link to view the sermon on our website  https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/pushed-and-pulled/ 
15:15
May 18, 2019
In The Wake of San Diego: What Can I Do? with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
Four words.  They are just four words. They make up a simple sentence.  But how you say this sentence makes all the difference in the world. What can I do?  Emphasis on I.  Meaning that I am so small, the world is so large.  My energy is limited. The problems of the world are unlimited.  What can I do?  Not much.  A recipe for contraction. But then there is:  What can I do?  I cannot do everything.  But I can do something.  What can I do to make our world a little more decent.  A recipe for doing something. Which way do you say it?  Are you a what can I do person?  Or a what can I do person?  What life are you living?  What life do you want to live? In the spirit of these questions, and in the week of San Diego and Yom Hashoah, I want to tell you two stories about a man named Rabbi Herschel Schacter who died six years ago at the age of 95.  He never said what can I do?  He made his troubled world a little more decent. Follow this link to view the sermon on our website  https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/in-the-wake-of-san-diego-what-can-i-do/ 
20:33
May 4, 2019
The Problem of Recency with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
I want to name a problem that is very common, perhaps almost universal, but we don’t talk about it.  If not now, at Yizkor, when? It is the problem of recency.  It looks like this.  Your loved one was fabulous when he or she was in the full bloom of their life.  And then, X years ago, they faced a serious health challenge. Follow this link to view the sermon on our website  https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/the-problem-of-recency/ 
15:14
April 27, 2019
Half Hallel: Our Passover Challenge with Rav-Hazzan Aliza Berger
When I used to sing competitively, I remember there was always this moment. I would go with my vocal studio to various competitions, which they always held in some university auditorium far away. After months of practicing and preparing, we would pile 4 or 5 divas into a small beat up car for whatever number of hours it took to arrive at the competition location. In the car, we would be singing vocal warm-ups, or blasting out musical theater tunes, or perseverating about which song we should sing first. (The way these competitions work is that each singer gets to choose their first piece, and if they choose wisely and the judges like it, they can ask for additional songs.) And after the anxious ride, and a quick change of clothes and a dash to the stage, I remember the feeling walking out in front of those judges. If you were lucky, they would let you sing your first full song, and then another. Sometimes, a judge would interrupt with a curt “thank you” and then leave you worried about what they didn’t like it. Follow this link to view the sermon on our website  https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-aliza-berger/half-hallel-our-passover-challenge/ 
34:29
April 26, 2019
Chamber Music Concert Sneak Peak with Constantine Finehouse
Host Cantor Elias Rosemberg interviews pianist Constantine Finehouse on how he got started with the Temple Emanuel Chamber Music Concerts. Plus, listen to a sneak peak of some of the music that will be featured at our upcoming concert on May 5th. Learn more about the event here  https://www.templeemanuel.com/event/chamber-music-concert-series/2019-05-05/ 
08:47
April 24, 2019
Beyond Linens ‘N Things with Rav-Hazzan Aliza Berger
I have a confession to make. I am a hopeless romantic. Starting when I was a little girl, I devoted endless hours to dreaming about what it would be like to meet my partner and fall in love and live happily ever after. I have journals from when I was 12 peppered with lists of what my ideal partner would be like because I was convinced that if I could imagine him clearly, he would appear.   Follow this link to view the sermon on our website  https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-aliza-berger/beyond-linens-n-things/ 
10:18
April 20, 2019
Conviction and Humility with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
What a complicated time. Today is Shabbat Hagadol. We are supposed to prepare ourselves for the first seder next Friday night. But most of the big issues that one might discuss at our s’darim are even more fraught than usual. Follow this link to view the sermon on our website https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/conviction-and-humility/ 
19:29
April 13, 2019
Helicopters, Teacups, and Swimmers with Rabbi Gardenswartz
 Help me finish this sentence.  You cannot be any happier than…your least happy child. The emotional life of a parent is deeply connected to the emotional life of their child. Perhaps that is why there is such a thing as a helicopter parent. Follow this link to view the sermon on our website  https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/helicopters-teacups-and-swimmers/ 
17:54
March 30, 2019
Esther Syndrome with Rav Hazzan Aliza Berger
At the beginning of chapter two in the megillah, the talented heroine of Purim is introduced by two names. In the words of the megillah: [And he was the guardian of Hadassah, (that is, Esther) the daughter of his uncle] (sung) Why did she have these two names? The midrash explains that Esther was born green. Literally. Her skin had a sallow, yellowish-green tone and for this reason, she was named Hadassah—myrtle. As a little one, she looked like the plant. But as she grew older, God made a miracle for her. God concealed her green skin and made it so that anyone who saw her experienced her as the most beautiful woman in the world. That’s why she was named Esther—Esther for hester—the Hebrew word meaning hidden.  The miracle of Purim is not just that Esther saved the day. The real miracle of Purim is that Esther found the courage to be herself no matter what. Purim is over. Let’s take off our masks. No more Esther syndrome. It’s time to be you.
13:11
March 23, 2019
Counter World with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
Every year the Oxford Dictionary comes up with a  Word of the Year, a word that captures the ethos and mood of our time.  For 2018 the word of the year is toxic.  Toxic was used widely to describe our natural environment, relationships, culture, politics, the state of our national conversation. The word of the year is toxic because all too often our world feels toxic. Here is my question for you.  If the world is toxic, do you have a counter world to which you can retreat where you feel safe and sound, seen and heard, loved and valued? 
17:23
March 16, 2019
You Just Won the Lottery. Now What? with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
I recently saw a film, and read an article, that made me realize we have all won the lottery.  No matter what issues or problems we have going on in our lives, and we all have issues or problems going on in our lives, we have still totally won the lottery.  The holiday of Purim is not just fun for the kids, it is super relevant to adults because it deals with the very real and adult theme that luck happens and has a huge impact on our day to day lives.  How should we respond to the importance of luck as an important driver of our lives? 
20:22
March 9, 2019
Jewish for Today with Rav Hazzan Aliza Berger
Sometimes I feel like a spiritual hustler (and I don’t mean I daven quickly). I meet young people in bars and cafes and ask them questions about their Judaism. Questions like, “what do you love about being Jewish?” and “do you feel it is important to live a Jewish life?”  But sometimes their answers catch me off-guard.  So many young adults are living Jewish lives for other people in other times. We are so committed to safeguarding what we received that we’ve forgotten why Judaism exists in the first place—as a way for us to connect with God, with ourselves, and with our larger Jewish community. 
11:59
February 23, 2019
May Your Light Make You More Whole with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
I want to raise a large question with you today, which is this:  Is knowing more better?  Is knowing more facts about yourself, your history, your biology, your family history, better?  In our reading this morning, the High Priest, the Kohein Gadol, keeps in a pouch above his heart an ancient device intended to discern God’s will on hard questions.  It was called the Urim v’Tumim.  Let’s say there were a vexing question the Israelites could not answer on their own.  The Urim v’Tumim was an instrument of decision that only the High Priest could use that would enable him to ascertain God’s answer to this hard question.  He kept this instrument in a pouch above his heart. 
16:51
February 16, 2019
The Goat Does Not Go it Alone with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
Namely:  How should we think about the aspiration to be the greatest, the best?  Is thinking this way, is dreaming this way, is acting this way, I want to be the best, healthy?  What happens to our heart when we are focused on becoming the goat? I remember as a teen being drawn to the climactic line in the poem Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  “To strive to seek to find and not to yield.”  Is this a good thing?  How does the goat beat the ram?  With a lot of help from our friends. That is true for Tom Brady.  That is true for all of us.   
14:13
February 9, 2019
Deer in the Condo with Rav Hazzan Aliza Berger
It was early in the morning. I had just sat down at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee, when I happened to look out the window and caught my breath. A deer stood there, ears erect, eyes darting around. I live in a condo in Boston, built along a busy street by VFW Parkway.  Where did that deer come from? How does it spend its days? Is it always wandering between scraps of forest, pockets of grass and trees? Does it miss just running through the woods, without having to dodge cars and hide from people? Where does it go during the day?  And as I pondered the deer’s predicament, I began to see the ways in which we are all like that deer. Our lives are hemmed in on all sides with work and obligations.  So many of us wake up extra early to nibble at that patch of grass—the 5 minute meditation app, the chance to drink a cup of coffee sitting down, to read the paper—and then we’re off, darting from task to task until late at night. 
12:54
January 26, 2019
Their Battle That You Know Nothing About with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
When you see somebody do something that you do not understand–perhaps it is puzzling, perhaps it is more than puzzling, it might even be offensive to you–how are you supposed to think about and respond to this challenging conduct?  Consider three vignettes. Read the full sermon here  https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/their-battle-that-you-know-nothing-about/ 
18:28
January 5, 2019
Becoming a Multiplier with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
I was recently speaking with my son Sam about a book he was reading that he was raving about.  He said it was giving him so much to think about every day when he went to work and interacted with his colleagues.  The book is Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman. Have you ever read a book that articulates a concept that you have never quite heard that way, but it totally captures reality?  You say yes! O my God, yes!  I never saw it before, but what she writes is so true.  And helpful.  It is going to help me take up my game! Read the Sermon here:  https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/becoming-a-multiplier/ 
17:12
December 22, 2018
After the Crash with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
We knew it was coming, this report from an expert who had been spending a lot of time investigating, but when it landed, it really hurt. I am talking of course about the recent report that concluded that French fries are bad for you.  According to Eric Rimm, a professor of nutrition at Harvard, French fries are, in his cruel phrase, “starch bombs.”  He argues that French fries—even though they are made out of potatoes, and even though potatoes are a vegetable, that grows from the ground, and even though vegetables that grow from the ground are usually good for you—in the specific case of French fries, they are not so good for you. Read the full sermon here:  https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/after-the-crash/ 
17:41
December 15, 2018
Love in Paradise with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
There is a town in northern California called Paradise which was destroyed last month by fire.  Ninety percent of Paradise residents lost their homes.   What this meant for the people who lived in Paradise was brought home to me by an article I read about the Paradise High School football team.  Read the sermon here:  https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/love-in-paradise/ 
12:57
December 8, 2018
A Song That Plays On with Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
Tomorrow night we will be singing the song of a man who died 28 years ago.  Had he been alive, Leonard Bernstein would be 100 years old.  However he died relatively young, at the age of 72.  And yet, all these years later, we still think about Leonard Bernstein. Which raises the question:  do you have to be a musical genius for your song to play on after you are no longer here?  Let’s say that you are an ordinary person who works and loves and lives and gives and passes, with no soundtrack attached to your name.  Is it possible that 28 years after you pass people will still remember and celebrate you? Read the full sermon here:  https://www.templeemanuel.com/rabbi/rabbi-wes-gardenswartz/a-song-that-plays-on/ 
20:29
November 24, 2018
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