God's Generals

Rosh Hashanah 5775 (2014) "God’s Generals" Rabbi Isaac Roussel / Congregation Zera Avraham There is a midrash that focuses on one word of the Akedah- “nah”, which means “please”. God says to Avraham, “Kach na et bincha…el eretz ha-moriah…” Please take your son… to the land of Moriah. Is this a command or a request? The word “Kach” is in the imperative form, and yet He uses the word “please”. The midrash likens it to a king who has a general that has fought many wars for him. He says to him, “You have won many battles for me, win this last one so that my generals cannot disparage me.” Similarly, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, said to Avraham, “I have tested you with 9 tests and you have withsto

There Is Only One Sadness

Rosh Hashanah 5775 (2014) “There is only one Sadness…” Rabbi Mark Kinzer / Congregation Zera Avraham Jacques was raised in a secular family. Raisssa was a Russian Jew whose family had emigrated to France when she was a child. Like Jacques, she had no defined religious commitment. They should not have been surprised or disheartened by the worldview they encountered at the university. According to their teachers at the Sorbonne, there were no transcendent values. Only the material world was real. Truth, goodness, and beauty were but subjective human ideas that had proven advantageous in the process of evolution. But Jacques and Raissa were not your typical students. They thought and felt deepl

Over Thine Enemies: A Sermon for Parashat Ki Tetzei

Some of you may remember how the Tigers were virtually untouchable the summer of 1984. Others may remember Gremlins in the theaters or the Ghostbusters. I spent 4 awesome weeks that summer at Camp Tamarack and otherwise, practicing for my Bar Mitzvah. September 7, 1984, 30 years ago tomorrow, I shared the bima of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, Michigan with Steven something or other as we read from parashah Ki Tetzei. I gave the drash on this very parashah. Steven spoke about the Haftorah. I recently got my hands on the VHS recording of that memorable day. It was less than stellar. I don’t mean me of course, I mean the recording. They failed to capture most of the service and so

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