Shabbat HaGadol Derashah 5777

Chametz, Erev Pesach and Transformational Authority

To be delivered at GGS after Minchah, Shabbat HaGadol, 5777

Primary Sources:

Devarim 17:8-13
Selections from Pesachim 6a; 87a
Selections from Yad, Hilchot Mamrim 1:1-2; 3:4; 4:1 (with commentaries of Kesef Mishneh & Ribdaz)
Rambam, Sefer HaMitzvot Shoresh 1, with Hasagot HaRamban
Kuntres Divrey Sofrim 1:32-33; 41-42
Meshech Chochmah to Devarim 17:11

Shabbat Shuvah 5777

As the Gates Close: The Timing and Purpose of Ne'ilah

To be delivered at GGS after Minchah, Shabbat Shuvah 5777

Primary Sources:

Ta'anit 26a
Yerushalmi Brachot 4:1
Yoma 87b with Rashi, Rosh, Ran, Ba'al HaMa'or and Me'iri ad loc.
Selections from Yad Hilchot Tefillah U'Nesi'at Kapayim Chapters 1, 3 & 14
Tur OC Siman 623 with Bet Yosef and Bach ad loc.
Shulchan Aruch OC Siman 623:2 with Magen Avraham and Taz ad loc.

Shabbat HaGadol Derashah 5776

A Song in Two Parts: Hallel at the Seder

To be delivered at GGS after Minchah, Shabbat HaGadol 5776

Primary Sources:

Selections from Mishnah Pesachim: 9:2; 10-5-7
Selections from Bavli Pesachim: 85b; 109a; 117a; 118a (with commentary of Ran)
Tosefta Pesachim 10:9
Tosefot Yom Tov to Pesach 10:6
Yerushalmi Megillah 2:1
Teshuvot HaGaonim Sha'arey Teshuvah 120
Yad Hilchot Chanukah 3:6 with notes of Ra'avad and Magid Mishneh
Chiddushey Griz HaLevi ad loc.
Tosefot Rid Pesachim 116b

Transition and the Beautiful Sound of Children

Sermon Notes 11/07/15 - Pinchas 5775

The three recent parshiot – Chukat, Balak and Pinchas are texts of transition.  Chukat includes a chronological transition, in which the narrative skips from the second year of the Israelites’ desert sojourn to the 40th, in which remainder of the Torah takes place.  Balak is a transition of perception, in which our ancestors emerged from the bubble of the wilderness to experience the hostility of others, presaging much of Jewish history.   And in today’s parashah, Pinchas, the people are prepared for leadership transition – Moshe knows that he will not enter the Land of Israel and hands the reigns to Yehoshua some months before his actual demise.

This has stimulated me to think about recent transitions in our community.  There have been so many changes, not least to the physical infrastructure and the way we deploy the space for davening (more of this in a future sermon and post).  But I’d like to focus on the fantastic growth in the number of young families and small children attending the Shul on Shabbat morning.  In a few years, we’ve changed from a community with just a handful of youngsters to one swamped with babies and children every week.  This is a tremendous blessing, but also a challenge, as it represents a completely new demographic reality for our community.  And it’s one that we  must get absolutely right to ensure that this growth continues and everyone, without exception, feels welcome and loved.  Periods of transition are fragile and must be handled extremely carefully.

Many of the new families enjoy participating in tefillah, but others come along only for the children’s programmes or to hang around with their friends.  I am delighted that we can provide a range of Shabbat morning experiences that attract the widest range of people and this means that there’s lots of unfamiliar noise every week – the beautiful sound of children playing and babies crying.  We’re doing our best to try to ensure that davening and children’s programmes are synchronised and to encourage parents to look out for their children, but it doesn’t always work.

Some of us may be troubled by the new sounds around our building, but I have one clear message – when there’s a baby crying during the sermon, exuberant children whooping outside during the kedushah or the announcements are drowned out by chatter, love it!