Sermons

The Etrog of Paradise
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 27th 2013
Because of the thickness of the rind, a desiccated etrog does not rot. It simply dries out, becoming small and hard in the process. Dried etrogim are no longer needed for a mitzvah, but can be used with cloves for a spiced etrog for havdalah. The late Anne Brown used to prepare and sell etrog jam to raise funds for tzedakah. Jackie Kahn saves the peel for zest. Sometimes that which is dried up is...
Sukkah City
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 27th 2013
Sukkot is a yom tov when we step outside ourselves. We go from people who are often unsure about how to use a hammer – even to put up a mezuzah - to spiritual Home Depot experts. We extend ourselves beyond our comfort zone, going from secure, solid, and dry homes to temporary, tottering shacks, exposed to the elements. We leave the private and protected space of our synagogues to go into the...
Alchemy for the Soul
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 27th 2013
My mother used deep red lipstick. I remembered this because of a siddur that I picked up the other day. I opened it and saw a lipstick smudge where someone had kissed the page. I recalled my mother kissing the prayerbook as she closed it. Although I no longer have her siddur or mahzor, the alchemy of memory brings her before my eyes.What about you? What do you remember? A...
For Israel and for Us
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 27th 2013
One of the ways that we understand the mitzvah of love your neighbour as yourself is through the concept of ahavat Israel, the loyalty and care we are obliged to extend to our fellow Jews. This may seem tribal in our global age, but this mitzvah is dear to me. We owe deep loyalty to family, our covenant partners, whose history and destiny we share.When people visit Israel, support its economy and...
Finding Our Way
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 27th 2013
I sometimes wish I had a road map for living. If only someone would occasionally show me a way to go, a direction to take, it seems things could be easier.Passengers on a flight to the tri-city airport of Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge must have felt a bit confused during a flight attendant's greeting. Not familiar with the area, she welcomed everyone warmly and stated that the...
Remembering, Forgetting, Forgiving
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 27th 2013
A group of 50 year olds discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed that they would meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the waiters there were good looking. Ten years later at 60 years of age, the friends once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed that they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the food and the wines were good.At 70 years...
A Difficult Mitzvah for Everyone
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 27th 2013
As we begin the High Holy Days season, I want to discuss one of the most challenging mitzvot of the 613 commandments. Some of you might be feeling that attending shul on Rosh Hashanah is high on the list. Others might imagine that the most difficult mitzvah is martyrdom- giving one’s life to affirm the religious integrity of our faith in God. Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai taught that the mitzvah of...
Returning, Responding and Restoring
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 27th 2013
In the Torah portion of Behar we read, “tashuvu ish el ahutzato- each person shall return to one’s ancestral holding”. For us, this is seen through our deep link to Eretz Yisrael. It is especially important to remind ourselves of that spiritual connection for three reasons:1. Yom Yerushalayim this week. It is important to stress our historical and spiritual connection to this Holy City,...
Holiness and Community
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 27th 2013
The US Army calls it E-15, because it begins with the letter E and has 15 more letters. Eyjafjallajökull - Ey-yaf-yat-la-yo-kytl – a word and volcano that the whole world learned about over the past week. Most of us are still not able to pronounce the name of the Icelandic "island-mountain glacier" that grounded thousands of flights and froze international air travel.However, apart from the...
Sheminee: Jewish Do-Overs
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 27th 2013
Bad mistake. Shouldn’t have done it. I imagine that had Nadav and Avihu lived, they would have regretted the actions that led to their deaths. Nadav and Avihu were the two eldest sons of Aaron and were consecrated as kohanim along with their brothers Eleazar and Itamar. Together with their father and seventy elders, Nadav and Avihu accompanied Moshe part of the way up Mount Sinai. However,...
The Future of Zionism: Hevron, Peter Beinart and Daniel Gordis
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 27th 2013
Sarah died in Kiryat-Arba, now Hebron, in the land of Canaan; and Avraham proceeded to mourn for Sarah and to bewail her. . . (Beresheet 23:2).Sarah died near Hevron and Avraham went to great lengths to purchase a burial site for her. This became known as the Cave of the Makhpelah, the “doubled cave,” where according to the Torah all the Matriarchs and Patriarchs- except for Rahel, who was...
Attunement
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 27th 2013
I’m sure you have heard about the Rabbi, Priest, and Imam who were asked, “What would you like said about you at your funeral?” The Imam wanted to be known as someone devoted to faith and family--served as a role model. The Priest wanted to be known for his selflessness, his devotion to the Pope and as one who grew his parishes. The Rabbi said, “I’d like someone to say: “Look! He's...
Comparisons (Shabbat Hol Ha’mo’ed Pesaẖ 5773)
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 16th 2013
Rav Adam has been speaking about Passover foods as edible metaphors. Today, I’d like to look at Pesah itself as a metaphor for our relationship with God and for the type of Jew that we want to be. At the end of Seder, some people have the custom of reading the Song of Songs. Others read Shir Hashirim on the Shabbat of Passover. In the entire Bible, the Song of Songs stands out for its use of...
Names to Remember (Pesaẖ 5773 - Yizkor)
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 11th 2013
Occasionally, after a waiter comes to our table and says, “Hi. My name is Joe and I’ll be serving you tonight,” I respond and give him my name. My family cringes. But actually, that’s the only time we exchange names. We all know that the waiter is not interested in my name and I forget his or her name before I leave the restaurant. In most of our daily transactions, it is our credit card...
The Hungry Soul: Aspiring for More (Sheminee 26 Nisan 5773)
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 10th 2013
In a recent book, Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat, Bee Wilson reminds us that the knife is derived from sharpened hand axes—the oldest human tools. The first spoons are descended from objects used to scoop up liquid, but the fork is relatively new on the human scene.As I read about the fork as a utensil that reveals much about cultural anthropology, I thought about...