Shavuot Debate Congregant Essays 2019

The Code Of Jewish Conduct

 Dear All,

We all are on a lifelong journey of Learning.
Learning is a key to life regardless of our background, age, life experiences, curiosity, sensitivities, etc. Jews are known to be the people of the Book, our holly Torah & amazing teachings of our Sages.
As the previous speakers pointed out we have a such fascinating heritage to learn from & live by. It changes out vision, our outlook on life, and yet we see that we, the people of the Book, being integrated in the societies we live in brake Judaic laws, marginalizing fellow Jews, defaming, bashing, bulling in schools, not understanding what is true respect to a Parent/ Elder means....
Our mission is to be a Light to other Nations. Doesn't it mean to work on ourselves as much as possible?
So this wonderful book, The Code Of Jewish Conduct, is the one which can help us all in this Mission as it teaches the Jewish laws of conduct. It's for every day life & for the future to raise healthy children & to have healthy relationships in families & in  society.

The book explains the laws of communicating, using right wording, actions, reactions, expressing an opposite opinion, how to reproach, rebuke, forgive.
It also talks about suspicions, flattery, offence, lies, pretense, hypocrisy, jealousy,  etc.
People who are on dating scene will find how wise laws of dating can help.
The book talks about family relationships, meaning & laws of  respect to our parents., upbringing  of children, treating a guest & much more.
I truly believe that this book will serve as a valuable Guide to better life & better community.
Our thoughts, words, actions MATTER - they are heard by our Creator.

I am going to offer a study group for this Book so anyone interested please contact me at
[email protected] with subject " book "
Be well,

By Golda Spitzerev 

The Siddur/Prayer Book

It is June 6, 1944, exactly 75 years ago. Picture yourself a Jewish soldier in the US, thousands of your brothers and sisters are dying every day. You are about to board a plane or a boat, to parachute straight into enemy territory or jump into the ice-cold water of the atlantic making your way to the shore, about to take on one of the most terrifying forces ever.

What is the one book Jewish soldiers carried with them into war? The Chumash? A book of the Prophets, or the Talmud or Halacha? No. They carried the Siddur among with their Tefillin. 

Thousands died that day as well, but a turning point was reached.  

Today there is a Chabad house on the blood-soaked beaches of Normandy, teaching and educating and bringing a full Jewish experience to their visitors. 

One of the items they show to the tourists is a Siddur that was found further inland, in the rubble of a hospital. 

They say that two pages in the Siddur were marked, one for the ‘Traveler’s Prayer’ the other one for Havdalah, marking the end of Shabbat. 

The instructions for the Traveler’s prayer, said every morning while one is one move, indicate to be sure to always end it with the words: “Blessed are You who hears prayer.”

To remind yourself that even in the deepest darkness, we are still heard and guided.

Also we know that the Jewish soldier was still trying to keep the Shabbat, to be sure to make a distinction between the holy and the profane. 

Going back in time a little: Before the Babylonian exile the Jewish People didn’t need a Siddur. Prayer came naturally to our forefathers and was passed on from Generation to Generation. Special prayers and offerings were brought to the Temple in a specific order, to have a clear way for every Jewish person to connect themselves to Hashem, to internalize the Mitzvot and the Torah.

When the Temple was destroyed and the Jewish people were dispersed among different people with different languages and customs the Sages and Prophets, the Men of the Great Assembly, decided it would be best to write down the prayers, so that future generations would be able to continue the same prayers as our forefathers did, that even in the darkest hours of the Exile they would keep fast to their traditions and maintain their closeness and connection to G-d. 

What is it that Jewish high school students with a very minimal Jewish education could truly benefit from, before going out into the world? 

We are still in Exile and very much in need to guidance. Some high school students may go on and become Torah scholars, others will go on to work and raise families. 

Teaching the SIddur isn’t just about learning how to read and say the prayers.

To appreciate it fully, the way of teaching it would include the history of prayer, the Kabbalah of the twelve gates and nuschaot, the thirteenth gate for all the Jewish people on which the latest Siddur is based, to study the origins and inner meanings of each prayer and custom, especially the latest version of the Siddur first published by Rabbi Scheur Zalman of Liadi that was intended as a prayer book for all, including many of the Laws and customs culled from the Shulchan Aruch, Torah readings, Selichos etc.

For example, just saying the order of the Korbanot/Offerings wouldn’t give a student a deeper understanding of why they are there and what they mean for us today. 

To understand what this means would include the insights of the Rebbe, on how “Our Sages teach that while we are in exile, “the prayers were established in place of the daily offerings.” ‘Korban,’ offering, shares the same Hebrew root as ‘Kiruv,’ closeness. The purpose of an offering is, that through it, we become closer to G-d. True closeness to G-d can be achieved when our prayers, like the Burnt Offering, are in order to connect with G-d, not for personal gain.”

To be able to truly understand the Siddur is being able to use it as a vehicle for connection and closeness to Hashem and each other, and a deeper understanding of our mission of letting Hashem’s light shine upon us forever so that ‘His way be known on Earth, His Salvation among all Nations”. It can help students not just in their own lives, but help them do their part to bring redemption, even through the deepest darkness. 

By Hadassah Rest 

The Book of Vayikra

I am here to say without fear of contradiction that, without a doubt, the most important book of the Torah is Vayikra.

Vayikra can be a challenging read. It has very little narrative and lots and lots of mitzvahs. 247, to be exact. Most of these have to do with the laws of animal sacrifice, purity, redemption and gifts, and how to treat slaves. And then, in Vayikra’s final parsha, Bechukosai, we get the Tochechah-the admonition. Studying Vayikra can be a bit like attending a very lengthy and somewhat dry law seminar, followed by the most terrifying horror movie imaginable.

There are some who claim that Vayikra is somehow not relevant to modern life and modern sensibilities. I disagree. For the patient reader, there are important and timeless messages that emerge from the text. Like Ve’ahavta lereicha kamocha, love your fellow as yourself. I don’t think a single argument can be made that this is any less vital now than it was on the very day it was commanded. Maybe that’s why it’s directly followed by an emphatic “ani Hashem”.

There’s also this one, from parshas Kedoshim:

“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”. Also in parshas Kedoshim, God says to Moshe “Speak to the entire congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You shall be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” Note the words “entire congregation”. At the moment God spoke them, holiness became a democratic principle and imperative for the Jewish people. So it’s no wonder that Vayikra is the first book of the Torah that children are encouraged to learn.

Not long ago, a good friend of mine pointed out something about our family surname that I hadn’t noticed before. Waleik is spelled W-A-L-E-I-K. If you take out the vowels, only W, L and K remain. The closest Hebrew letters to those would be Vav, Lamed and Kuf. Which stand for: Ve’ahavta lereicha kamocha: Love your fellow as yourself. Doing that is sometimes a real challenge. So it’s nice to know that reminder is there for me.

It’s there for all of us. It’s been there since every holy soul accepted the entire Torah exactly 3,332 years ago at Sinai

By Gary Waleik 

The Book of Bereishis/Genesis

 People have questions. There are plenty of self-help books for those who want to know how to live right. But there are different kinds of questions - how come, why are we here, why bother, who says so? And to answer these questions, you have to go to the Source.

Take a look at Google Earth. Zoom in, then zoom out. When we get lost in details, we can return to the Starting Place and remember what brought us here to begin with.

In Bereshit G-d sets up the stage of Space, Time, and Man for us to sanctify in later parshas where Temple, Shabbat, and Cohanim were sanctified and boundaries established. It is not a coincidence that the Hebrew world oshan for smoke that came from Mount Sinai alludes to Olam, Shana, and Nefesh - world, time, and soul. We can transcend Time by making the right choices with everlasting effects. And we can transcend Space by zooming in and out, trying to comprehend G-d’s universe. In other words - naaseh v'nishma!

The spirit and matter can meet only in Human being and manifest through actions. Consideration for others is a first step out of yourself onto spiritual trail.

To assist in the battlefield G-d sets up the tools - Torah as a blueprint, creation in His Image for the purpose of common language and personal relationship.

Proper models of identity and relationships are established here- parenting with its unconditional love, dependency, trust, and reverence. Marriage as a commitment, brit. Both types are essential to learn about meaningful relationship with G-d.

Also found here are commandments, challenges, and concepts like gratitude, sacrifice, free will, and the chosen people making right choices.

All kind of evolution began here. Evolution of species and evolution of human character - from brotherly hate to brotherly love and shalom in the family suitable for Shehina presence. From aloof marriage to considerate marriage with meaningful dialog. From sin to repentance. From responsibility for yourself, to responsibility for your family, tribe, human kind.  From forefathers to the seed of Mashiach. And the happenings of the forefathers are signs for the children manifested through history outlined in other books. Thus, there would be no other books without Bereshit.

There is colorful diversity between individuals, genders, tribes, and nations. Each is serving G-d in their unique way. To achieve harmony we search for common ground and re-examine our assumptions. And it always helps to refer back - by zooming in and then out.

By Tamara Levin Derkach 

The Book of Tanya

High school kids are going through tremendous changes. Physical growth, emotional growth, and cognitive growth. These new-found capabilities can make kids self-centered. They can be reluctant to learn subjects that don’t have any immediate, practical relevance. The Alter Rebbe spent 20 years giving guidance to his chassidim, and then compiled all of that advice into the Book of the Tanya. Its stated purpose is to help us internalize all of the teachings of the Torah to the point that we can fulfill the verse “for this Torah is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.”

Therefore, it’s the perfect book to teach to high school kids- practical, relevant advice for approaching all other holy books in a meaningful way. 


By Shmuel Bollen, User Experience Design and Research Wizard @uxwizardry "It is better to be roughly right rather than precisely irrelevant." -Edward Tufte

The Book of Iyov/Job

 After introducing Iyov as virtuous, and upright, G-d fearing and veering from evil, the book opens with Hashem greeting the angel “Satan” ( not normally at The Court) with where has been? The answer “roaming the earth and traveling about it”. When Hashem asks Satan if he paid any attention to His servant, Iyov? Satan indicates Iyov has noting to fear as Hashem has built protection for him, his family and his wealth.

Satan says sort of...let me at him and he will curse and Hashem says okay but he won’t curse me. After Satan wrecks havoc with Iyov, Satan claims Iyov would curse Hashem if he was physically hurt and Hashem allows Satan to strike Iyov but not kill him.

So the stage is set:

The first messenger says the house of the seven sons and three daughters were destroyed by fire.

The second: his cattle stolen by Sheba who killed the “youths” guarding them

The third: Divine fire killed his sheep and the shepherds watching them

The fourth: Chaldean took his animals (donkeys, camels, horses) and killed these youths also

Iyov says: Naked I came in to the earth and naked I will leave, G-d grants and G-d takes away. Ma

G-d’s name be blessed.

When Hashem allows Satan to hurt Iyov, he silently bears up for seven days without saying a word to the three friends who had come to comfort him. Ans when he was tired and weary of his fate, they each charged him with having sin and with having to consult his past to atone for it. With anger, philosophy, logic and all forms of tradition did these friends attack Iyov and told to repent. Finally the three ceased to argue with Iyov; as he saw himself righteous in his own eyes.

A Jew, Elihu, emerges from somewhere, and changes the debate- angrily denouncing the three friends and firmly guiding Iyov to look at Hashem’s greatness and that what looks like punishment is really an attempt to get to repent. Iyov states he would only do so if Hashem appeared to him.

Hashem twice appears to Iyov in a whirlwind to explain that Iyov was not there at the beginning, will not be there at the end, and his time on earth was short.

Epilogue finds Iyov’s family returned/replaced (we aren’t told which), his wealth restored and Iyov given an additional 140 years (the story began when he was 70). Apparently repentance works

By Yitczhok Cohen 

Introducing the Great Parachute Debate of 2019




2nd Day Shavous Special over Kiddush - Monday, June 10, 2019, We continue the celebration of the 3,331th anniversary of our marriage to G-d at Mt. Sinai. *Join us for  the 2nd Day Yom Tov* Kiddush.

The Great Parachute Debate will provide and entertaining and educational presentation by a group of our community members.

(A “Parachute Debate takes place when you find yourself on a doomed airplane, with a number of other people, and only one parachute. Each person gets the opportunity to explain in 4 minutes why they deserve the parachute more than anyone else!)

 *In This “Parachute Debate”  local Presenters will be answering a tough Question…..:: . 

"A million dollars was left to you in a will  to develop or find a curriculum and course that would inspire and influence Jewish high school students. There are 1000 students who are Jewish, ready to take the course but have so far only a minimal Jewish Education.

You can positively influence 1000 young people possibly even future leaders and improve  the world. However, there are strings attached to the money. You must base the entire course on teaching them only ONE Torah book from Jewish history since the Torah was given on Mt Sinai. You can pick any Torah book you want, but only one.


Which special Torah Book would that be and most importantly “Why”? Why would the meaning of this Book accomplish more for the future of the Jewish people and the world more than any other one?


In this blog the presenters share why their chosen Torah book deserves the parachute. 

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