This Shabbat is the “Shabbat of Prophetic Vision” and comes a few days before the 9th of Av, which is associated with the most devastating calamities that the Jewish people have faced throughout time – the most recognizable of these disasters are the destruction of the first Temple by the Babylonians and the second Temple by the Romans. More
About Rabbi Louchheim
Posts by Rabbi Thomas Louchheim:
When Marcia and I were in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, we would take a half mile walk outside with my sister to a local coffee shop. We did this a few times. I don’t think any of us really needed the coffee mocha. We just wanted to walk and talk and stroll through the neighborhood around my parents’ home. In all the years they lived there, we had never taken that walk and seen the quaint and beautiful homes, manicured lawns and beautiful flowers. But that is another story, though related to this one. It was good to get outside in the fresh air.More
Today is the first of Nisan, reminding us that Passover is just two weeks away. There has been talk online that, on Passover night, many will refer to COVID-19 as a plague equivalent to the ten disasters God inflicted on Egypt, including swarms of locusts, hordes of frogs, a scourge of boils, pestilence of livestock, and the death of firstborn sons. Might I suggest we not do that.
The novel coronavirus is an epidemic disease, and now, a pandemic because it has spread around the world. And, like a plague, it is causing widespread affliction, as well as pain, loss, and distress. So, shall we liken it to the biblical plagues of our ancestors? I should say not.More
During these High Holy Days, we have repeated the refrain during the Amidah prayers, Zochreinu l’chayim, “Remember us unto life.” How strange now at the end of it all, we remember people we loved, those who loved us, but have left us. They are gone.
During Yizkor we attempt to find meaning in death. This moment provides a resting point where we may pause and evaluate the meaning of our lives and theirs. It was a bond between imperfect people. They, like us, were full of faults, capable of great anger and great love. We forgive ourselves for how we behaved, for words not spoken, for unresolved events. We forgive our dead. They hurt us sometimes by what they said or did or what they did not say. If they were our parents, they did the best that they could. They did no less and no more. We are grateful for the gifts we gave and we received.
Rabbi Sandy Ragins of my family’s congregation in Los Angeles has officiated at hundreds of baby namings during his career. Besides the usual blessings read, he will often share a line Gandalf spoke in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King –More
You have accomplished something awesome by being here together this evening.1 Erev Yom Kippur. Kol Nidrei. You have entered this sanctuary to observe the holiest day of the year. What do you find here? The beginning of a long fast. Melodies you recall from childhood. Familiar prayers heard only once in a year seeking to pry open an inner consciousness, for you to turn inward and probe. It is a day of memories: of people and places.
Imagine living under the tutelage of a master teacher, preparing for your profession. You are perhaps unsure that you are suited for the job, but with enough coaching, you gain the confidence needed to be the leader that those around you assure you that you are. You gain a following. You put aside the humility that you once had, and you assume leadership and convince thousands of people that you will lead them to a brighter future. You conduct your own campaign, going door to door to talk to the people about the future.
With a sliver of the moon in the night sky, allowing us a greater glimpse of the stars in heaven, we begin this new month like all other months. The difference is that this month of Tishrei begins with a name and not with the number “1.” It is called “Rosh Hashanah.” “Day of Judgment.” The number of a day of the month is just part of a sequence. A name seeks for you to ponder as to the origin and meaning of it. I propose that we look upon our Rosh Hashanah, our Day of Judgment differently than in year’s past. It is not God who is judging your past deeds; rather, it is you who will judge your future steps.
M’kor Chayeinu, Source of our lives, we stand together before You.
We stand in fear of a world that appears at times to be harsh and unkind. We tremble at uncertainty as to what the future may bring. And yet,
We are thankful for health, for family, and for friends.
Dearest Friends of the Tucson Jewish community,
It seems to me that many of you have forgotten the training we all received when we were children. Remember the nurse at school who taught you two important rules: 1) Wash your hands, and 2) Don’t put something in your mouth if you don’t know where it came from! Let’s pay attention to Rule #2, shall we?