Thursday, March 23, 2017

FINDING MEANING IN THE MUNDANE

Parashat Vayak’hel-Pekudei
27 Adar 5777 / 24-25 March 2017
Torah reading: Exodus 35:1 – 40:38
Maftir: Exodus 12:1-20 (HaChodesh)
Haftarah: Ezekiel 45:16 – 45:18

The Rabbinical Assembly’s Guide to Pesach is available for downloading and/or printing at:


IMPORTANT CALENDAR UPDATE FOR THIS SUNDAY!

Candle lighting: 6:49 pm

Friday – Shabbat Evening Service – 8:00 pm. Oneg Shabbat follows.
Saturday – Shabbat Morning Service – 10:00 am. Kiddush luncheon follows.
Sunday – TOUR OF KOSHER MARKET CANCELED – unfortunately, Ralphs kosher section will not be fully converted to KP until after April 3. Religious School – 9:30 am. Adult Hebrew Class – 10:00 am
Tuesday – Lunch and Learn – 12:00 noon.
Thursday, 30 March – Deadline to sign up for Beth Meier’s Community Second Seder on 11 April – contact office for details and reservations.
Friday, 31 March – Shabbat Evening Service – 8:00 pm. Oneg Shabbat follows.
Saturday, 1 April – Shabbat Morning Service – 10:00 am. Kiddush luncheon follows.
Sunday, 2 April – Religious School – 9:30 am. Adult Hebrew Class – 10:00 am
Tuesday, 4 April – Lunch and Learn – 12:00 noon.
Friday, 7 April – Shabbat Evening Service – 8:00 pm. Oneg Shabbat follows.
Saturday, 8 April – Sh’MA (Shabbat Morning Adventure) Service – 10:00 am. Guitar-accompanied sing-along service with Cantor Steve Pearlman. Kiddush luncheon follows.
Sunday, 9 April – Religious School – 9:30 am. Adult Learning Program – “A Walk Through the Hagaddah” – 10:00 am
Monday, 10 April – Fast of the First-born – Torah Study and Siyyum – 8:00 am. First Seder at sundown.
Tuesday, 11 April – Passover Morning Service – 9:30 am at Temple B’nai Hayim. Community Second Seder at Beth Meier – 7:00 pm.
Wednesday, 12 April - Passover Morning Service – 10:00 am at Beth Meier.

This d'var torah is offered in memory of my father-in-law, Abraham Kronzek, whose yahrzeit falls on Tuesday, Nisan 1. Y’hi zikhro liv’rakhah – His memory is a blessing.

This d'var torah is offered in honor of Melinda and Warren Trauman, celebrating their wedding anniversary this Shabbat. Mazal tov!

This d'var torah is offered for a refuah shleimah for Avi Shmuel Yosef Hakohen ben Bella, Yaakov Rani Ben Margalit, Sarah bat Devorah, Susan Arbetman, Kyree Beacham, Ken Bitticks, Elsbet Brosky (Serach bat Miriam), Jerry Daniels, Maya Fersht (Maya bat Esther), Dr. Samuel Fersht (Shmuel Natan ben Gittel), Leonard Foint (Eliezer Moshe ben Esther), Jerry Forman, Myra Goodman, Simon Hartman, Fouad Kay (Yehoshua ben Salima), Philip Kovac, Evan Kronzek, Philip Kronzek (Pinchas Yosef ben Sarah), Tonya Kronzek (Zlata Malkah bat Sarah Emanu), Toni Linder, Roy Miller, Deborah Schugar Strauss (Devorah bat Chaya Feiga), Helen Schugar (Chaya Feiga bat Kreina), and Jerry Smith.

Please let me know if there is anyone you would like to add to this list or if there is anyone who may be removed from this list.

Please feel free to pass this on to a friend, and please cite the source.
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FINDING MEANING IN THE MUNDANE

“Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled upon it (alav); and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” Exodus 40:35

Etz Hayyim: It is unclear whether entry is literally blocked or is not permissible or that Moses dared not enter.

The writer David Mamet asks an interesting question. “But is there something in the notion that Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud rested on him?”(reading the word “alav” as “upon him” rather than “upon it” - the Hebrew is ambiguous) He goes on to suggest that when Moses was filled with the Holy Spirit, in direct communion with the Divine, he was thereby unable to act as a servant to either God or the Israelites.

There has lately been a quest by Jews and non-Jews alike for “spirituality”. These searchers want a connection with God that is uplifting, meaningful, emotional, etc. And often, they want it immediately - they want a moving personal experience when they want it. This is a difficult proposition for rabbis and cantors, clergy of all types, who cannot always deliver spirituality on demand. One also must wonder whether God takes orders in quite this way - or in any way at all!

I am not in any way denigrating the spiritual needs of people. I also desire that connection, however ephemeral or short-lived it may be. But whenever I am having my individual experience with the Divine in a way that is not through any physical act, such as meditation or even singing, or when my spiritual moment is divorced from the world around me (something that I do seek from time to time), I am not then able to fulfill the Divine will. That is to say, we are commanded to act in this world through gemilut chasadim (acts of loving kindness), through tikkun olam (repairing this broken world), and through tzedakah (justice or charity). One might argue these are only ordinary acts. But I think they are extra-ordinary. We all know that there can indeed be joy in performing these mitzvot, as well as joy in the results. By acting as God’s servants, by feeding the hungry and burying the dead and cleaning up the Earth and loving the stranger, we make the spiritual connection that God wants, even if it is not necessarily the connection we want when we want it.

If indeed God is Hamakom, the One That Is In Every Place, then in a narrow sense, God is within us as well. Although we may seldom if ever experience an ecstatic connection with God, we can nevertheless have an emotionally satisfying connection whenever we want - by finding meaning in the mundane; in ordinary, everyday Jewish living. You want to find God?  Go - perform an act of chesed or tikkun or tzedakah and save the world! One small piece at a time.

Shabbat Shalom v'Chodesh Tov! Nisan and Pesach are right around the corner!

Rabbi Richard A. Flom
Congregation Beth Meier
Studio City, CA
Visit me on Facebook
Twitter: @DrahcirMolf
"שתיקה כהודאה דמיא"
"Silence in the face of wrongdoing is consent.”
BT Yevamot 87b

My weekly divrei torah are available through free subscription to the Cyber Torah e-mail list. No salesman will call!
Cyber Torah list management:
To subscribe to Cyber Torah, send an e-mail from the receiving address to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net  with the heading “Subscribe Cyber Torah”.
To unsubscribe from Cyber Torah, send an e-mail from the receiving address to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net with the heading “Unsubscribe Cyber Torah”.
To dedicate a Cyber Torah in honor of a simchah in memory of a loved one or for a refuah shleimah, send an e-mail to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net with the heading “Dedicate Cyber Torah” and provide details in the message body.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

REMEMBER?

13 Adar 5777 / 10-11 March 2017
Parashat Tetzaveh (Shabbat Zakhor)
Torah: Exodus 27:20 - 30:10
Maftir (Shabbat Zakhor): Deuteronomy 25:17-19
Haftarah (Shabbat Zakhor): 1 Samuel 15:1-34

For more info about our community, visit our website:

Congregation Beth Meier has developed a GoFundMe page:

Please visit the page and consider a donation. Your generosity is greatly appreciated!

Please feel free to pass this on to a friend, and please cite the source.
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REMEMBER?

This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Zakhor (Remember) because of the first word of the Maftir, the additional Torah reading, which instructs us to remember what Amalek did to our ancestors on the way out of Egypt. This serves as a connection to the observance of Purim, Saturday night and Sunday, when we commemorate the defeat of Haman, a descendant of Amalek. However, I want to focus on a different kind of remembering, mentioned in the regular portion for this Shabbat.

"And you shall put the two stones upon the shoulder pieces of the ephod, stones of remembrance for the Children of Israel; and Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord upon his two shoulders for a remembrance... And Aaron shall bear the names of the Children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, for a remembrance before the Lord perpetually." Exodus 28:12, 29

"For a remembrance - that the Holy One Blessed Be He should see the tribes written before Him and remember their righteousness." (tzidkatam – their righteousness) Rashi to verse 12, citing Midrash Exodus Rabbah

"Memory is the source of redemption; exile comes from forgetting." Baal Shem Tov to verse 29.

The names of the tribes were engraved on the stones as a reminder - to whom? Rashi teaches that God needs to be reminded of the righteousness of our ancestors. Perhaps it is to remind God of our righteousness; we also are the Children of Israel. Does God really need to be reminded of anything - as if God could forget! Yet many of the prayers which we regularly offer do just that.

I understand the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Chasidism, as saying "no!" We are the ones who need to remember. If we are righteous, we need to remember that we once were not. If we are not righteous, we must remember that we can become so - if we try. Remembering takes on redeeming qualities, because it can compel us to perform acts of righteousness. So it is imperative to remember what you once were; to be reminded of what you have the potential to become; and to do something about it, by performing acts of tzedek and tzedakah, of justice and of righteousness.

Have a wonderful Shabbat! Purim Sameach! Barukh Mordechai; Arur Haman! 

HaRav HaGaon HaTzaddik Abba Reuven Ben Menachem Mendel Flom, Sh’lita
Der Heileger Rebbe of Studio City
Rosh Yeshivah – Lower Slobbovia
Slivovitz Taste Tester
משנכנס אדר, מרבין בשמחה
From the beginning of Adar, we increase joy.
BT Ta’anit 29a
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Candle lighting: 5:38 pm

Friday – Family Shabbat Evening Service – 7:30 pm. Oneg Shabbat follows.
Saturday – Shabbat Morning Service – 10:00 am. Kiddush luncheon follows. Purim at Temple B’nai Hayim - 7:00 pm. Light dairy dinner (reservations at B’nai Hayim, please!), followed by Purim Shpiel and Megillat Esther at 7:45 pm. Turn clocks ahead one hour tonight!
Sunday – Purim at Beth Meier – Haman Lunch 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. Songs, games, costumes, lunch (reservations please!) Adult Hebrew class – 10:00 am.
Tuesday – Lunch and Learn – 12:00 noon.
Friday, 17 March – Shabbat Evening Service – 8:00 pm. Oneg Shabbat follows. 
Saturday, 18 March – Shabbat Morning Service – 10:00 am. Kiddush luncheon follows. 
Sunday, 19 March – Religious School – 9:30 am. Adult Hebrew Class – 10:00 am
Tuesday, 21 March – NO Lunch and Learn. Resume 28 March.

This d'var torah is offered of my mother, Annabelle Flom, celebrating her birthday this Shabbat. Yom huledet sameach, ima! Ad meah v’esrim! Happy Birthday, Mom! Til a hundred and twenty!

This d'var torah is offered in honor of Rochelle Kronzek and Steve Miller, who are getting married on Thursday, March 16. Mazal tov!

This d'var torah is offered in honor of Jane and Barry Glass, celebrating their Jewish wedding date anniversary on Purim. Mazal tov!

This d'var torah is offered for a refuah shleimah for Avi Shmuel Yosef Hakohen ben Bella, Yaakov Rani Ben Margalit, Sarah bat Devorah, Susan Arbetman, Kyree Beacham, Ken Bitticks, Elsbet Brosky (Serach bat Miriam), Jerry Daniels, Maya Fersht (Maya bat Esther), Dr. Samuel Fersht (Shmuel Natan ben Gittel), Leonard Foint (Eliezer Moshe ben Esther), Jerry Forman, Beth Goldstein, Myra Goodman, Simon Hartman (Shimon ben Serach), Fouad Kay (Yehoshua ben Salima), Philip Kovac, Tonya Kronzek, Toni Linder, Roy Miller, Carol Rosen (Tsharna Aliza bat Leah), Deborah Schugar Strauss (Devorah bat Chaya Feiga), and Helen Schugar (Chaya Feiga bat Kreina).

Please let me know if there is anyone you would like to add to this list or if there is anyone who may be removed from this list.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
My weekly divrei torah are available through free subscription to the Cyber Torah e-mail list. No salesman will call!
Cyber Torah list management:
To subscribe to Cyber Torah, send an e-mail from the receiving address to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net  with the heading “Subscribe Cyber Torah”.
To unsubscribe from Cyber Torah, send an e-mail from the receiving address to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net with the heading “Unsubscribe Cyber Torah”.
To dedicate a Cyber Torah in honor of a simchah in memory of a loved one or for a refuah shleimah, send an e-mail to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net with the heading “Dedicate Cyber Torah” and provide details in the message body.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

YOU GOTTA WANT IT!

Parashat Terumah
6 Adar 5777 / 3-4 March 2017
Torah: Exodus 25:1 - 27:19
Haftarah: 1 Kings 5:26 – 6:13
 
For more info about our community, visit our website:
 
Congregation Beth Meier has developed a GoFundMe page:
 
Please visit the page and consider a donation. Your generosity is greatly appreciated!
---------------------------------------------------------------
Candle lighting: 5:33 pm
 
Friday – Shabbat Across America Service and Dinner – A guitar-led family and learners’ service at 6:00 pm, followed by Shabbat dinner at 7:00 pm. Reservations for dinner a must! ASAP - Contact the Beth Meier office for details.
Saturday – Shabbat Morning Service – 10:00 am. Kiddush luncheon follows.
Sunday – Religious School – 9:30 am. Adult Hebrew class – 10:00 am. Israeli Wine Tasting and Tapas – 3:00 pm. Reservations appreciated, higher price at door – contact the Beth Meier office for details.
Tuesday – Lunch and Learn – 12:00 noon.
Thursday, 9 March: Ta’anit Esther (Fast of Esther)
Friday, 10 March – Shabbat Evening Service – 8:00 pm. Oneg Shabbat follows.
Saturday, 11 March – Shabbat Morning Service – 10:00 am. Kiddush luncheon follows. Purim at Temple B’nai Hayim - 7:00 pm. Light dairy dinner (reservations, please!), followed by Purim Shpiel and Megillat Esther. Check your mail or call Beth Meier office for details. Turn clocks ahead one hour tonight!
Sunday, 12 March – Purim at Beth Meier – Haman Lunch 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. Songs, games, costumes, lunch (reservations please!) Adult Hebrew class – 10:00 am.
Tuesday, 14 March – Lunch and Learn – 12:00 noon.
 
This d'var torah is offered for a refuah shleimah for Avi Shmuel Yosef Hakohen ben Bella, Yaakov Rani Ben Margalit, Sarah bat Devorah, Susan Arbetman, Ken Bitticks, Elsbet Brosky (Serach bat Miriam), Jerry Daniels, Maya Fersht (Maya bat Esther), Dr. Samuel Fersht (Shmuel Natan ben Gittel), Leonard Foint (Eliezer Moshe ben Esther), Jerry Forman, Beth Goldstein, Myra Goodman, Simon Hartman (Shimon ben Serach), Fouad Kay (Yehoshua ben Salima), Philip Kovac, Tonya Kronzek, Toni Linder, Roy Miller, Carol Rosen (Tsharna Aliza bat Leah), Deborah Schugar Strauss (Devorah bat Chaya Feiga), and Helen Schugar (Chaya Feiga bat Kreina).
 
Please let me know if there is anyone you would like to add to this list or if there is anyone who may be removed from this list.
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YOU GOTTA WANT IT!
 
“And you shall make a menorah of pure gold; of hammered work the menorah shall be made, its base and its shaft; its cups, its calyxes and its flowers shall be of one piece with it... Look and do; according to their pattern which is shown to you on the mountain.” Exodus 25:31, 40
 
"'Look and do.' Look here, on the mountain, the pattern that I show you. This tells that Moses was perplexed by the construction of the menorah, until the Holy Blessed One showed him a menorah made of fire.” Rashi, citing B. Talmud Menachot 29.
 
“'Of hammered work the menorah shall be made' -­ of itself (i.e., it was spontaneously created by itself, and not by humans). Moses was so perplexed by it that the Holy Blessed One said to him: 'Cast the gold into the fire’ (i.e., the fiery pattern on the mountain); thus it is not written, 'You shall make’ but ‘it shall be made’." Rashi, citing Midrash Tanchuma.
 
Yehudah Aryeh Leib (the Sefas Emes) asks in his book Gur Aryeh, “If the menorah was made spontaneously, why did God show Moses a menorah made of fire (as a pattern for making it)?” He answers that human beings are unable to completely fulfill the will of God. But through a person’s innermost and heartfelt yearning to fulfill God’s will, God helps in fulfilling the desire. The Gerer concludes, “The yearning of a person influences a given undertaking so that it can actually complete itself.”
 
If you really want to fulfill a mitzvah that is difficult for you, it will in the end seem to happen by itself - but only if you try, only if you want it, and only if you let God meet you halfway, to show you how to complete it. If you want it, here it is, come and get it.
 
Have a Shabbat of light and happiness - it's Adar!
 
HaRav HaGa’on Abba Reuven ben Menachem Mendel Flom, Sh’lita
Av Beis Din – Chelm
Slivovitz Taste Tester
משנכנס אדר, מרבין בשמחה
From the beginning of Adar, we increase joy.
BT Ta’anit 29a
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My weekly divrei torah are available through free subscription to the Cyber Torah e-mail list. No salesman will call!
Cyber Torah list management:
To subscribe to Cyber Torah, send an e-mail from the receiving address to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net  with the heading “Subscribe Cyber Torah”.
To unsubscribe from Cyber Torah, send an e-mail from the receiving address to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net with the heading “Unsubscribe Cyber Torah”.
To dedicate a Cyber Torah in honor of a simchah in memory of a loved one or for a refuah shleimah, send an e-mail to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net with the heading “Dedicate Cyber Torah” and provide details in the message body.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

WHO COMES FIRST – HUMANS OR GOD?

29 Shevat 5777 / 24-25 February 2017
Parashat Mishpatim (Shabbat Shekalim; Machar Chodesh)
Torah: Exodus 21:1 - 24:18
Maftir: Exodus 30:11-16                     
Haftarah: 2 Kings 12:1-17

For more info about our community, visit our website:

Congregation Beth Meier has developed a GoFundMe page:

Please visit the page and consider a donation. Your generosity is greatly appreciated!
---------------------------------------------------------------
Candle lighting: 5:27 pm

Friday – Shabbat Evening Service – 8:00 pm. Oneg Shabbat follows.
Saturday – Shabbat Morning Service – 10:00 am. Kiddush luncheon follows.
Sunday – Religious School – 9:30 am. Adult Hebrew class – 10:00 am. Game Day at Temple B’nai Hayim – 10:00 am – 2:00 pm - contact B’nai Hayim for details – reservations required for lunch.
Tuesday – Lunch and Learn – noon.
Friday, 3 March – Shabbat Across America Service and Dinner – A guitar-led family and learners’ service at 6:00 pm, followed by Shabbat dinner at 7:00 pm. Reservations for dinner a must! Contact the Beth Meier office for details.
Saturday, 4 March – Shabbat Morning Service – 10:00 am. Kiddush luncheon follows.
Sunday, 5 March – Religious School – 9:30 am. Adult Hebrew class – 10:00 am. Israeli Wine Tasting and Tapas – 3:00 pm. Reservations required – contact the Beth Meier office for details.

This d'var torah is offered for a refuah shleimah for Avi Shmuel Yosef Hakohen ben Bella, Yaakov Rani Ben Margalit, Sarah bat Devorah, Susan Arbetman, Ken Bitticks, Elsbet Brosky (Serach bat Miriam), Jerry Daniels, Maya Fersht (Maya bat Esther), Dr. Samuel Fersht (Shmuel Natan ben Gittel), Leonard Foint (Eliezer Moshe ben Esther), Jerry Forman, Beth Goldstein, Myra Goodman, Simon Hartman (Shimon ben Serach), Fouad Kay (Yehoshua ben Salima), Bonnie Kleiger, Philip Kovac, Tonya Kronzek, Toni Linder, Roy Miller, Carol Rosen (Tsharna Aliza bat Leah), Deborah Schugar Strauss (Devorah bat Chaya Feiga), and Helen Schugar (Chaya Feiga bat Kreina).

Please let me know if there is anyone you would like to add to this list or if there is anyone who may be removed from this list.
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WHO COMES FIRST – HUMANS OR GOD?

“Now these are the laws which you shall set before them.” Exodus 21:1

“You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 22:20

The rules set forth in this parashah are primarily two types: civil and criminal legislation and humanitarian matters. This follows last week’s receiving of Aseret Hadib’rot (the ten utterances, aka “Ten Commandments”). The Torah here continues to deal with matters arising between humans, such as: how to treat slaves, strangers, converts, widows and orphans; the requirement to pay damages for personal injuries; protecting others from dangerous livestock and conditions of property; and much more. Some brief laws regarding sacrifices and the observance of the holidays come later in the parashah.

The Chasidic Master Simcha Bunim of Pshischa wonders why the first verse says “before them”. He suggests that “them” is not the Israelites. Rather, it is to teach us that the commandments between fellow humans (mitzvot bein adam l’chavero) come before the commandments between humans and God (mitzvot bein adam la’Makom). Not just literally, as in the text, but in terms of importance as well. Heresy?  Hardly.

Simcha Bunim is on to something. What is the point of rigid ritual observance as a form of worshiping God, if one is going to mistreat fellow human beings, who are made in God’s very image? It's not only hypocritical; it's a chillul hashem (a desecration of God's name).

Regarding our second verse, Rabbi Eliezer the Great (BT Bava Metzia 59b), says that the Torah warns 36 times, and some say 46 times, that we should not mistreat the stranger. This person is often identified as “the stranger (or alien) within your gates”. Add Rabbi Eliezer’s teaching to that of Simcha Bunim, and we know that the Torah way of treating the strangers and aliens among us is perhaps the most important of all the mitzvot bein adam l’chavero. The Torah doesn’t demand their papers. It commands us to treat them the same way we would like to be treated – not the way we were treated in Egypt! It’s the law!

I wish you Shabbat Shalom Uv’rakhah – A Shabbat of Peace and Blessing.

Rabbi Richard A. Flom
Congregation Beth Meier
Studio City, CA
Visit me on Facebook
Twitter: @DrahcirMolf
"שתיקה כהודאה דמיא"
"Silence in the face of wrongdoing is consent.”
BT Yevamot 87b

My weekly divrei torah are available through free subscription to the Cyber Torah e-mail list. No salesman will call!
Cyber Torah list management:
To subscribe to Cyber Torah, send an e-mail from the receiving address to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net  with the heading “Subscribe Cyber Torah”.
To unsubscribe from Cyber Torah, send an e-mail from the receiving address to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net with the heading “Unsubscribe Cyber Torah”.
To dedicate a Cyber Torah in honor of a simchah in memory of a loved one or for a refuah shleimah, send an e-mail to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net with the heading “Dedicate Cyber Torah” and provide details in the message body.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT

Parashat Yitro
22 Shevat 5777 / 17-18 February 2017
Torah: Exodus 18:1 – 20:23
Haftarah: Isaiah 6:1 – 7:6; 9:5-6 (Ashkenazim); Isaiah 6:1-13 (Sephardim)

For more info about our community, visit our website:

Congregation Beth Meier has developed a GoFundMe page:

Please visit the page and consider a donation. Your generosity is greatly appreciated!
---------------------------------------------------------------
Candle lighting: 5:20 pm

Friday – Shabbat Evening Service – 8:00 pm. Oneg Shabbat follows.
Saturday – Shabbat Morning Service – 10:00 am. Kiddush luncheon follows.
Sunday – NO Religious School or Adult Learning – Presidents’ Day Weekend
Tuesday – Lunch and Learn – noon.
Friday, 24 February – Shabbat Evening Service – 8:00 pm. Oneg Shabbat follows.
Saturday, 25 February – Shabbat Morning Service – 10:00 am. Kiddush luncheon follows.
Sunday, 26 February – Religious School – 9:30 am. Adult Hebrew class – 10:00 am. Game Day at Temple B’nai Hayim – contact Beth Meier or B’nai Hayim for details.
Friday, 3 MarchShabbat Across America Service and Dinner – A guitar-led family and learners’ service at 6:00 pm, followed by Shabbat dinner at 7:00 pm. Reservations for dinner a must. Contact the Beth Meier office for details.

This d'var torah is offered in memory of my aunt, Shirley Schack, whose yahrzeit falls on Tuesday, 25 Sh’vat. Y’hi zikhronah liv’rakhah – May her memory be a blessing.

This d'var torah is offered for a refuah shleimah for Avi Shmuel Yosef Hakohen ben Bella, Zehavah B’rakhah bat Leah, Yaakov Rani Ben Margalit, Sarah bat Devorah, Susan Arbetman, Ken Bitticks, Elsbet Brosky (Serach bat Miriam), Jerry Daniels, Maya Fersht (Maya bat Esther), Dr. Samuel Fersht (Shmuel Natan ben Gittel), Leonard Foint (Eliezer Moshe ben Esther), Jerry Forman, Beth Goldstein, Myra Goodman, Simon Hartman (Shimon ben Serach), Fouad Kay (Yehoshua ben Salima), Bonnie Kleiger, Philip Kovac, Tonya Kronzek, Toni Linder, Roy Miller, Carol Rosen (Tsharna Aliza bat Leah), Deborah Schugar Strauss (Devorah bat Chaya Feiga), and Helen Schugar (Chaya Feiga bat Kreina).

Please let me know if there is anyone you would like to add to this list or if there is anyone who may be removed from this list.

Please feel free to pass this on to a friend, and please cite the source.
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LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT

Yitro said to Moses (his son-in-law): “The thing you are doing is not right. You will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. Now listen to me, and God be with you! You represent the people before God; you bring the disputes before God, and enjoin upon them the laws and the teachings, and make known to them the way they are to go and the practices they are to follow. You shall also seek out capable people who fear God, trustworthy people who spurn ill-gotten gain. Set these over them as chiefs of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens, and let them judge people at all times…. Let them share the burden with you. If you do this – and God so commands you – you will be able to bear up; and all these people too will go home unwearied.” Exodus 18:17-23

In a way, this sounds like the establishment of an army, or a government, or any other type of human organization. It looks a bit like a model for setting up a synagogue – a rabbi, a board of directors and committees. The difference is that, usually, but not always, the rabbi does not choose the board of directors – the congregation does. And unlike Moses, the rabbi is not sent by God – the congregation, directly or through the board, chooses the rabbi.

Yitro sees a necessary separation of management and spiritual leadership. My colleague and friend Rabbi David Greenspoon wrote some years ago that the difference between leadership and management is that leadership is doing the right thing, and management is doing the thing right. Sometimes leadership, doing the right thing, requires going out on a limb. Management, he says, is the antithesis of going out on a limb. Doing the thing right requires management to be sure that processes and outcomes have consensus. It’s often about risk avoidance and shared responsibility. The modern synagogue is a bit more complicated – rabbis must be managers, and managers must be leaders. And always, everyone should share the burden!

Yet, the Israelites have problems. When the system breaks down, bad things happen. Sometimes Moses fails to lead, sometimes the managers go beyond their authority. When Aaron’s sons, the “managers” Nadav and Abihu, try to usurp Moses and Aaron, God punishes them – they are struck down. When Moses fails to rebuke the Israelites while the Moabite women are enticing them, the result is a civil war and a plague among the Israelites. But ultimately, they all manage to get through the desert together, because they take care of each other. They fight for each other, not with each other.

Leaders, managers, followers, workers – we all must join in the Jewish enterprise together, as a unified people – even when we disagree. This is how it is explained by Pirkei Avot. “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh lazeh” – All Israel are responsible one for the other. We either build each other up, or we tear each other down.

To tell you the truth, this sounds like pretty good advice for our society in general.

I wish you Shabbat Shalom Uv’rakhah – A Shabbat of Peace and Blessing.

Rabbi Richard A. Flom
Congregation Beth Meier
Studio City, CA
Visit me on Facebook
Twitter: @DrahcirMolf
"שתיקה כהודאה דמיא"
"Silence in the face of wrongdoing is consent.”
BT Yevamot 87b

My weekly divrei torah are available through free subscription to the Cyber Torah e-mail list. No salesman will call!
Cyber Torah list management:
To subscribe to Cyber Torah, send an e-mail from the receiving address to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net  with the heading “Subscribe Cyber Torah”.
To unsubscribe from Cyber Torah, send an e-mail from the receiving address to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net with the heading “Unsubscribe Cyber Torah”.
To dedicate a Cyber Torah in honor of a simchah in memory of a loved one or for a refuah shleimah, send an e-mail to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net with the heading “Dedicate Cyber Torah” and provide details in the message body.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

FREE AT LAST – THE LONG SHORTER WAY

Parashat Beshallach
15 Shevat 5777 (Tu B’Shevat) / 10-11 February 2017
Torah: Exodus 13:17 – 17:16
Haftarah: Ashkenazim – Judges 4:4 – 5:31; Sephardim – Judges 5:1-31

For more info about our community, visit our website:


Congregation Beth Meier has developed a GoFundMe page:


Please visit the page and consider a donation. Your generosity is greatly appreciated!


Hash'kediya Porachat - The almond tree is blooming. Tu B'shevat Sameach!

Candle lighting: 5:14 pm

Friday – Daven and Dinner! Musical, Guitar-Accompanied Shabbat Service – 6:00 pm, followed by Shabbat Dinner – 7:00 pm. Dinner reservations required – deadline has passed. Even if you can’t stay for dinner, please come for services.
Saturday – Shabbat Morning Service – 10:00 am. Kiddush luncheon follows.
Sunday – Religious School Tu B’Shevat Seder - 9:30 am. All members and friends are invited to join in celebrating the New Year of the Trees! Adult Hebrew – 10:00 am.
Tuesday – Lunch and Learn – noon.
Friday, 17 February – Shabbat Evening Service – 8:00 pm. Oneg Shabbat follows.
Saturday, 18 February – Shabbat Morning Service – 10:00 am. Kiddush luncheon follows.
Sunday, 19 February – Religious School – 9:30 am. Adult Hebrew class – 10:00 am.

This d'var torah is offered in memory of Shirley Kronzek, whose yahrzeit falls on Monday. Y’hi zikhronah liv’rakhah – May her memory be a blessing.

This d'var torah is offered for a refuah shleimah for Avi Shmuel Yosef Hakohen ben Bella, Zehavah B’rakhah bat Leah, Yaakov Rani Ben Margalit, Sarah bat Devorah, Susan Arbetman, Ken Bitticks, Elsbet Brosky, Jerry Daniels, Maya Fersht (Maya bat Esther), Dr. Samuel Fersht (Shmuel Natan ben Gittel), Leonard Foint (Eliezer Moshe ben Esther), Jerry Forman, Beth Goldstein, Myra Goodman, Simon Hartman, Fouad Kay (Yehoshua ben Salima), Bonnie Kleiger, Philip Kovac, Tonya Kronzek, Toni Linder, Roy Miller, Carol Rosen (Tsharna Aliza bat Leah), Deborah Schugar Strauss (Devorah bat Chaya Feiga), and Helen Schugar (Chaya Feiga bat Kreina).

Please let me know if there is anyone you would like to add to this list or if there is anyone who may be removed from this list.

Please feel free to pass this on to a friend, and please cite the source.
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FREE AT LAST – THE LONG SHORTER WAY

“Now when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although it was nearer; for God said, ‘The people may have a change of heart when they see war, and return to Egypt.’” Exodus 13:17

The greatest modern leader of African-Americans, and America generally, was the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King and other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement did not simply guide African-Americans to freedom – they led the entire country to a new paradigm in which all Americans were truly free and equal, through what can only be called a non-violent revolution.

The Civil Rights Movement was steeped in the language of Tanakh – the Hebrew Bible that Christians call the Old Testament. From the beginning, African-Americans identified with the Israelite slaves in Egypt. Through sermons, songs and more, they amplified that connection.

Not only was the movement led by Dr. King committed to the principles of non-violence taught by Mahatma Gandhi – he was also an astute observer of American law, politics and traditions. He and his followers used the democratic American system itself to bring peaceful change to that system. The movement could have advocated violence – after all, the United States itself achieved freedom through a violent overthrow of British rule. Alternatively, African-Americans could have left the US – going to Canada, for example, or at least moving from the South to the North where, despite much discrimination, they would have been able to vote and participate in the democratic process. Instead, they chose to stay and achieve their goals through the system.

In today’s highly polarized society, we hear of those who advocate violence because they do not like the result of an election. Others who are dissatisfied say they will drop out – no longer participate in the system. They should learn from Dr. King, who understood the genius of the American way. Freedoms of speech and press, the rights to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances, regulation of commerce, elections – all were utilized to set people free.

The “short-longer way” seems faster, but ultimately leaves one far from the goal.  The “long-shorter way” takes more time and energy, but gets one to the true prize more quickly (B Talmud Eruvin 53b).

“Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we’re free at last” – the long-shorter way.

Have a wonderful Shabbat of song and freedom! And a Happy Tu B’Shevat!

Rabbi Richard A. Flom
Congregation Beth Meier
Studio City, CA
Visit me on Facebook
Twitter: @DrahcirMolf
"שתיקה כהודאה דמיא"
"Silence in the face of wrongdoing is consent.”
BT Yevamot 87b

My weekly divrei torah are available through free subscription to the Cyber Torah e-mail list.  No salesman will call!
Cyber Torah list management:
To subscribe to Cyber Torah, send an e-mail from the receiving address to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net  with the heading “Subscribe Cyber Torah”.
To unsubscribe from Cyber Torah, send an e-mail from the receiving address to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net  with the heading “Unsubscribe Cyber Torah”.
To dedicate a Cyber Torah in honor of a simchah in memory of a loved one or for a refuah shleimah, send an e-mail to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net with the heading “Dedicate Cyber Torah” and provide details in the message body.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS

Parashat Bo
Torah: Exodus 10:1 – 13:16
Haftarah: Jeremiah 46:13-28
8 Shevat 5777 / 3-4 February 2017

For more info about our community, visit our website:


Congregation Beth Meier has developed a GoFundMe page:


Please visit the page and consider a donation. Your generosity is greatly appreciated!

Candle lighting: 5:07 pm

Friday – Shabbat Evening Service – 8:00 pm. Oneg Shabbat follows.
Saturday – Shabbat Morning Adventure (Sh’MA) Service – 10:00 am. A slightly abbreviated, guitar-accompanied service, with haftarah in English and a Torah discussion for adults and children alike. Led by Cantor Steve Pearlman. Kiddush luncheon follows. Attendance is expected for all Religious School students, in lieu of no RS Sunday.
Sunday – NO Religious School or Adult Hebrew class. Adat Ari El is holding a “World Wide Wrap” program from 9:00 am – 10:30 pm in the Deiber Chapel. A short morning service and educational program on tefillin. Send an email to Ronit Aranoff (raranoff@adatariel.org) to confirm attendance.
Tuesday – Lunch and Learn – noon.
Friday, 10 February Daven and Dinner! Musical, Guitar-Accompanied Shabbat Service – 6:00 pm, followed by Shabbat Dinner – 7:00 pm. Dinner reservations required – deadline Friday, February 3. Call or email the office please!
Saturday, 11 February – Shabbat Morning Service – 10:00 am. Kiddush luncheon follows.
Sunday, 12 February – Religious School Tu Bishevat Seder - 9:30 am. All members and friends are invited to join in celebrating the New Year of the Trees! Adult Hebrew – 10:00 am.

This d'var torah is offered for a refuah shleimah for Avi Shmuel Yosef Hakohen ben Bella, Zehavah B’rakhah bat Leah, Yaakov Rani Ben Margalit, Sarah bat Devorah, Susan Arbetman, Ken Bitticks, Elsbet Brosky, Jerry Daniels, Maya Fersht (Maya bat Esther), Dr. Samuel Fersht (Shmuel Natan ben Gittel), Leonard Foint (Eliezer Moshe ben Esther), Jerry Forman, Beth Goldstein, Myra Goodman, Simon Hartman, Fouad Kay (Yehoshua ben Salima), Bonnie Kleiger, Philip Kovac, Tonya Kronzek, Toni Linder, Roy Miller, Carol Rosen (Tsharna Aliza bat Leah), Deborah Schugar Strauss (Devorah bat Chaya Feiga), Helen Schugar (Chaya Feiga bat Kreina), and Naomi Zimmermann (Naomi bat Yorma).

Please let me know if there is anyone you would like to add to this list or if there is anyone who may be removed from this list.

Please feel free to pass this on to a friend, and please cite the source.
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ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS

Pharaoh called to Moses and said, "Go - serve the Lord; only your flocks and herds shall remain; even your little ones may go with you." And Moses said, "... And our livestock will go with us; not a hoof will remain; for from it we will take to serve the Lord our God." Exodus 10:24-26

The Yehudi Hakodesh of Pshischa understands this conversation as follows: Pharaoh said, "One may serve God purely in one's mind, without any action. If in truth you desire to serve God, why do you need your animals? Go - serve the Lord, with pure heart and intention, and you will need no animal sacrifices." Moses replied, "Intention alone, with no action associated with it, is unimportant and meaningless. The whole point is the action, which makes the intention profound." The Holy Jew concludes, "It is through action that one is aroused to serve God enthusiastically and to adhere to Him."

Let me be clear - prayer is an important and wholly (holy?) proper way to serve God. That is why we call prayer “avodah” - service. On the other hand, words may be viewed as cheap - we give up nothing, we make no sacrifice, in uttering them. And truthfully, the passive nature of prayer may have no lasting impact on anyone, including ourselves - unless the words ultimately motivate us to action. It’s easy to talk the talk. But walking the walk? Well, that doesn't have to be hard, but it still needs to be done.

If we are to have a positive effect on the world itself (tikkun olam), if we are to truly improve ourselves - then it is through the observance of the physical mitzvot. Whether charity, deeds of loving kindness and promoting peace, or kashrut, teaching our children and lighting Shabbat candles - it is through these actions that we truly serve God. In the same vein, positive change in society requires holy action on our part – holy words are not enough! We can improve the world around us and our inner spiritual selves by going beyond ourselves. If you want God to act, you have to act. You too can be an action hero!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Richard A. Flom
Congregation Beth Meier
Studio City, CA
Visit me on Facebook
Twitter: @DrahcirMolf
"שתיקה כהודאה דמיא"
"Silence in the face of wrongdoing is consent.”
BT Yevamot 87b

My weekly divrei torah are available through free subscription to the Cyber Torahe-mail list.  No salesman will call!
Cyber Torah list management:
To subscribe to Cyber Torah, send an e-mail from the receiving address to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net  with the heading “Subscribe Cyber Torah”.
To unsubscribe from Cyber Torah, send an e-mail from the receiving address to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net  with the heading “Unsubscribe Cyber Torah”.
To dedicate a Cyber Torah in honor of a simchah in memory of a loved one or for a refuah shleimah, send an e-mail to: ravflom@sbcglobal.net with the heading “Dedicate Cyber Torah” and provide details in the message body.

FINDING MEANING IN THE MUNDANE

Parashat Vayak’hel-Pekudei 27 Adar 5777 / 24-25 March 2017 Torah reading: Exodus 35:1 – 40:38 Maftir: Exodus 12:1-20 (HaChodesh) Haf...