Sunday, November 6, 2016

At Touro Synagogue November 5, 2016

The Parsha and the election;  How do we know what a person is like?

by Aaron Ginsburg

Today we read the second parasha in the book of Bereishit, Noach (Genesis 6:9 - 11:32). In the parasha, the Tower of Babel story seemed to be very dubious about the benefits of city life. But  when Noah planted a vineyard and  got drunk, it was connected to his being a man of the land, אִישׁ הָאֲדָמָה, in other words, a farmer. I don’t know about you but I think the country is fine, if city comforts are available, such as wifi! One can be good or bad anywhere.

Rabbi Mandel discussed the parasha and Tuesday’s election:

“This Tuesday is election day and America will be choosing a new president. This has been a crazy election season. The debates have been about personal attacks and insults. How do you judge a candidate? How do you really know what a candidate is like? 

We see from this week’s Parasha, Noach, that it is very difficult to really know what a person is like. Noach is believed to be in the Torah as a tzadik. A tzadik is a righteous person. How many people in the Tanach are referred to as a tzadik?

Does he act like a tzadik? It doesn’t seem that way. He doesn’t protest about the flood at all. As long as he feels safe, the flood doesn’t seem to bother him.

He doesn't really believe so strongly in G-d. When does he enter the ark? When he is about to drown.

And he has a drinking problem and is not in control of himself. Is this the behavior of a tzadik?

So it is very difficult to really judge people. We have to use all the information we have and decide based on what we have seen and what we know from the candidate’s past.

Let us hope a pray that we all have the wisdom to choose the best candidate and may the United States continue to prosper in every possible way.”

Was the rabbi really discussing the election, or was that just an example to illustrate the question? You decide.

Among our visitors on Shabbat was Rabbi Alex Ozar and his wife Lauren Steinberg from Stamford, Connecticut. The Rabbi is studying at Yale for a doctorate in Philosophy & Religion, focusing on how modern Jewish thought was affected by non-jewish modern philosophical thought.  His wife is a terrorism expert at the Anti-defamation League headquarters in New York City. 

One of the topics that came up was the Kosher restaurant scene in Stamford.  Navaratna, a vegetarian Indian restaurant, and Shoosh  (sushi) were special favorites. Want desert? No problem! The Stamford Dairy Queen is also certified by the Vaad Hakashrus of Fairfield County. Of course Newport has the Raw Power Juice Bar and Kitchen, certified by our own Rabbi Marc Mandel. 

Lauren Steinberg spoke briefly at Kiddish about her work. Her group consists of five people tracking and analyzing domestic terrorism. Part of the focus is on radical Islamic terrorism. Except for the fact that they are mostly males, the terrorists don’t seem to have a lot in common. One issue is how to distinguish terrorists from people who, although they might sympathize with Hammas, a terrorist organization, are totally opposed to domestic terrorism. The ADL shares what it learns with government officials and the FBI. 

@tourosynagogue @jewishnewport 

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