Weekly Newsletter Message

The Royal Wedding

Did you watch the wedding? (not live of course, it was on Shabbat:))

Apparently, we are enamored by the royal family. Millions of well-wishers tuned in to celebrate with Prince Harry and Meghan last week.

It’s not easy being a Royal. There are all sorts of "rules" or protocols to be followed. Constantly in the public eye, every word or action must be fitting for royalty. 

Prince Harry struggled with this for a while, but eventually came to appreciate that being royal is a privilege not a burden. In order to be Royal, one must act royally.

As Jews we can relate, for we are also Royals. As G-d says in the Torah “And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation”. 

Like the Royals, there’s plenty of protocol, we have many rules (613 to be precise).  And like I once heard from a media personality "Jews are news", we are constantly under public scrutiny and must therefore ensure that every word or action is fitting for the name that we carry as Jews. Finally, like Prince Harry we can choose to see Royal life, and the rules that come along with it, as restrictive or a privilege.

Now, I realize that I may have just offended many of my readers. Most Jews cringe at the notion of being called royalty or the "chosen nation". We find it arrogant and hate-inducing.

Yet, at the same time, we are perfectly comfortable with the Royal family. Not only are we not bothered, we are enamored by them and wish them well. When Prince Harry and Meghan left the Chapel in the Royal carriage, not one of the media commentators recoiled in disgust or referred to them as arrogant. But tell a Jew that he is royalty, and he responds, “no, no, G-d forbid! I’m just like everyone else!”

Perhaps this is because we misunderstand what it means to be royal or the “chosen nation”. 

It doesn't mean you are greater than others, but rather that you have a greater responsibility.

Prince Harry, not by virtue of anything he did, was born to certain parents and as a result represents the Crown and the British people and is called on to behave accordingly. Embracing his role as a Royal is not a sign of arrogance but rather of humility!

A Jew is not better than anyone else. But he is a descendant of Abraham and Sarah, and as a result represents the Jewish people and G-d. We are royal, not because of anything we have done, but simply because of who we were born to. As with Prince Harry, embracing our royalty, by living up to the standards of the Torah and being a “light unto the nations”, stems from humility not arrogance.

The nations of the world will not hate us for behaving in a Royal manner, they actually expect it from us.   They hold us to a higher standard and rightfully so.

Prince Harry matured and now embraces his role as a Royal. It is time for us to do the same!  

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

Laurel or Yanny?

How was your day?

How’s your marriage?

What’s your neighbor like?

A few years ago my brother went with a group from his community to visit Israel.  During the trip Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz addressed the group and concluded with these powerful words,  “When you return to America, what you share about Israel says more about you than about Israel.”

Whether you hear Laurel or Yanny has more to do with you than the actual reality. The same is true with life in general.

How you answered the questions above is more a reflection of yourself than the reality.   

We choose which part of reality to focus on.

It is up to us to see, hear and discover the good in on our circumstances and the people around us

Shabbat Shalom 

Rabbi Benjy Silverman 





Is Your Life Difficult?

Is your life difficult? 

This week’s Torah portion includes the prohibition of giving an indentured servant meaningless tasks. You may have paid a fortune for this individual to serve at your beck and call, however work without purpose is considered an unbearable burden. It doesn’t matter whether the task is difficult or easy, what matters is whether it serves any purpose, because what makes work unbearable is not it’s level of difficulty but it’s lack of meaning.

The same is true with life in general.  What makes a life unbearable is not it’s level of difficulty but it’s lack of meaning.  On the other hand, purpose and meaning can uplift even a difficult life, asVictor Frankl would say “A life with a why can bear any how

We spend a lot of time, energy, and mind space trying to improve our circumstances, but our Torah portion reminds us that we should invest at least as much in finding purpose and infusing every aspect of our lives with meaning.

Shabbat Shalom 

Rabbi Benjy Silverman 

Forget About Being Right

Why should I give in? I’m right and s/he is wrong! Why should I be the one to apologize?  I did nothing wrong!

Sound familiar?

This is one of the differences between children and adults. Children don’t care about being right as much as adults. Children can get into a fight and yet two minutes later they're playing together happily as if nothing happened.  Adults get into a fight and they can go decades without talking to each other.

Why the difference?

Children would rather be happy than right, whereas adults would rather be right than happy.

An adult can go a lifetime missing out on a relationship with his own sibling or parent only because he insists that he is right and the other party has to change or apologize. Of course, the other party feels the same way and as a result the fight is never resolved.

Children, on the other hand, don't care as much about being right, they'd rather just be happy and enjoy each other. 

All too often we get caught up with being right despite the possible negative repercussions.  This is especially true in adult relationships.

The next time you get into a dispute, stop focusing on who is right and focus on what you need to do to be happier, and your relationships will be a lot better off.

It's more important to do right than to be right.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman


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