Friday, August 28, 2009

Deuteronomy Ki Teitzei Verses 21:10 - 25:19

Ki Teitzei is not a portion of the Torah with a story, and characters. It has more of just the laws of the Torah. The laws mentioned in this part of the Torah are all about family and dealing with divorce or loss of a loved one. Appropriately I thought about the Kennedy's.

I look at the Kennedy's and I am amazed. They are the American version of the Royal Family. You are born a Kennedy and you are famous overnight. I would like to talk about a few Kennedy's and what they have done in this legendary American family.

It all goes back to Joseph P. Kennedy who never did much in politics. Joe was just a very rich man, but as a patriarch he had very good intentions for his family. Joe is responsible for making the Kennedy name. The ambitions he had for his family remind me of my papa. Ambitions for the next Graubart rabbi (probably me) and as the Kennedy's succeeded and pleased Joe, I hope to succeed and please, ,my papa, Daniel Graubart.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Robert Francis Kennedy were the young hopes. There are parts of the family that never got to do what they planned to. Always had good intentions, but could never finish because of a gun. JFK made it to office, but his presidency was cut short. Like his older brother Robert's career was brief. Other than the assassination, my sister and I remind me of Robert and John. Still fresh in the world, have not made their mark yet.

Then, there is Eunice Kennedy Shriver. She was not much in the political side of the Kennedy family, but made a difference in the world. Eunice founded the Special Olympics. She reminds me of my mom who do anything that is caring and nice.

Finally, Ted Kennedy was a fighting man in the Senate. He always stood up for what he believed in and now is cherished for it. Not even brain cancer could stop the drive this man had. Two people resemble Ted for me. My nana and my dad both fight for what they believe in and would do anything for the people they care about.

One generation of Kennedy's is almost gone. Time moves on though. Joe did not consider himself for greatness. He thought of Joe Jr., John, Kathleen, Eunice, Patricia, Robert, Jean, and Ted as his greatness. Just as Daniel and Annette Graubart are proud of Dina, Glen, Beth, Ron, Adam, Rachel, Emma, Ben, and Ruby. How does this all go back to Ki Teitzei? L'Dor V'Dor. From generation to generation.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Deuteronomy Shofetim Verses16:18 -21:9

Parsha Shofetim has three basic parts. The first part God sets up the Judicial system and how it will be run justly. The second part God talks about punishment for breaking the laws he has set out for the Jewish people. The third part is God telling the Jewish people how to defend and attack to keep their culture alive. I will be talking about a part I found particularly interesting in the first section of this trilogy of commandments.

Once God explains the Jewish Judicial System, He says that the Promised Land will have a king chosen by the Lord. Modern Jews and the modern American world do not even think twice about having a king. Was the author who wrote this a Medieval man? Was it changed by someone from the Dark Ages? The world will never know who wrote each Torah parsha and how it has changed from generation.

Traditionally, we think of three Israeli kings. Saul, David, and Solomon. (Ahasuerus near Purim time, but he was not Israeli). Well to quote the children, "first is the worst, second is the best, third is one with the treasure chest". Saul was blessed by the Lord as long as he obeyed Him. Saul's time of royalty was out shined by David one of Israel's great generals. Jealously loomed Saul to try kill to David. The jig was up and David was king. David led Israel's armies with pride and started the book of Psalms. Solomon had the treasure chest of knowledge, wisest of the kings, and built the First Great Temple of Jerusalem. There were many other kings, but these are the names we remember.

Getting back to the parsha, God wanted his people to have a king. God does everything for a purpose. Maybe God wanted the people to discover democracy. My theory is God just wanted the Temple of Jerusalem built and could not force his people into slavery to build it. The purpose of Saul was to appoint David general, the purpose of David was to have Solomon as a son in Israel's golden age, the purpose of wise Solomon was to build the Temple. God does everything for a reason.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Deuteronomy 'Ekev Verses 7:12 - 11:25

This week God was just reviewing what he had done in the first years of the wilderness. I just want to focus on one verse in particular,

"The graven images of their gods you will burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or gold that is upon them and take it for yourself, lest you be ensnared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord, your God." (Deuteronomy 7:25)

I feel you can take this two ways. The direct approach where a Jew should never covet or worship another god. Another view is that this is a metaphor. My belief is it is a metaphor. I think it used to be a law, but you if you live in the United States you are not surrounded by the Romans, the Greeks, and the Egyptians worshiping idols.

I will take this verse piece by piece. The first part where, "The graven images of their gods will you burn with fire". That could mean that you can not go against your good judgement. Your common sense is extinguishes that fire within you, but if you go and do something stupid that fire burns everything within you. This is just a silly coincidence, but if you smoke your lungs burn and look like charcoal. My other example is how stupid Anakin was in Star Wars. When he became Darth Vader, he literally burned up in fire.

The second part, "You shall not covet the silver or gold that is upon them and take it for yourself" is telling no matter how fun or daring it looks do not covet the bad boy. We should not sigh when we see our neighbors drive up in their porches. If we complimented instead of envied or tried to what we envy for ourselves the world would be a better place. Some of the cruelest people in our history were simply greedy from their envy. Bernie Madoff probably grew up seeing the wealthy and envied them enough to scam the innocent.

Finally, "Lest you be ensnared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord, your God." God is not going to accept you after you burned in the fires of envy. You do not want the burnt steak. You want the rare steak. Just like people want the "rare people" who do the right thing, but why do good-doers have to be rare? Anyone can do just as much good as bad.