Get seven complete and original sermons for Parshat Emor and Lag B’Omer (or purchase them individually)
1. How To Educate Our Youth
Ah, education, one of humanity’s favorite subjects, one that reminds us, naturally, of our school days and, instinctively, puts us to sleep. But, perhaps we can do something about it. The secret ingredient for inspired education is in this week’s Torah portion. And this vital message is underscored by the Rashbi, whose yahrzeit we will celebrate on Lag B’Omer.
2. Lessons From a Terrorist (can be used to address the recent Poway attack)
Emor teaches us how to forcefully deal with adversity while becoming more dignified in the process. It shows us how to balance these two poles: fighting intense hatred, while abiding by our higher values. Celebrating life while others celebrate death. How can we hold onto hope and maintain a vision of a better life when we have to wage war with those that are causing the world so much suffering.
3. After a Terrorist Attack: What Do We Teach Our Children? (can be used to address the recent Poway attack)
When we see hate, Judaism teaches how we must educate our children with love, instilling in them a culture of life — and the importance of healing the world and not harming it. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai personifies this approach.
4. To Rebuke or Not to Rebuke: Is There a Middle Path?
How to respond when we see someone do a wrong? Should we rebuke or ignore? A single word in the opening verse of this week’s Torah reading provides the answer. The surprising change of attitude of Lag B’Omer’s hero, the analogy of the shvitz and other anecdotes teach us a novel approach to education and just plain communication.
5. True Vision: An I for an I
Why does the Torah prescribe an eye for an eye – a seemingly cruel and barbaric punishment? The answer is found in a fascinating Talmudic decision, anchored by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar, whose passing we will commemorate this coming Thursday on Lag B’Omer.
6. Can You Change Yourself?
We are now in the seven-week Omer counting period between Passover and Shavuot – a commandment in this week’s Torah portion – an intense journey of character refinement. This work in character development begs the question: Can we indeed do much of anything to change our personalities? Or are we just evolved beasts driven by a self-centered Id?
7. The Perfect Specimen
No matter what your Jewish mother told you, nobody’s perfect. We all have deficiencies. But the Torah demands that the holy priests serving in the Temple be perfect physical specimens, without blemish? Is this not superficial? Understanding the deeper meaning of this law teaches us invaluable lessons how to overcome our own imperfections and turn our weaknesses into strengths.