Rabbi Scolnic shares his favorite sermons.

The Whipping Boy - September, 2014

My grandson Avi and I love to watch movies. And the wonderful thing is that we can watch just about anything that has ever been made, because my son Josh bought me this little black box that somehow connects my tv to the internet. Avi and I have to watch movies at home because we talk the whole time; we'd be thrown out of any movie theater for constant chattering. Avi is five years old and he asks a question a minute:

The Gift of Fear - September 2014

  • Snakes.
  • Speaking in front of an audience
  • Heights
  • Being closed in a small space
  • Spiders and insects
  • Needles and getting shots
  • Mice
  • Flying on an airplane
  • Dogs
  • Thunder and lightning
  • Crowds
  • Going to the doctor

The College Admission Process, Basketball and Stereotypes  - September 23, 2014

For many of us, the process of getting into college is or was one of the most stressful experiences in our whole lives. Getting “accepted” or “rejected” by nameless, faceless institutions seems so definitive, so defining of a student’s worth. Every year, I talk to kids who are heartbroken because their dreams of getting into certain schools were dashed on the rocks of a mysterious process that everyone thinks they understand until the often-logic defying results come in those make-or-break envelopes and emails.

Love Is Its Own Reward - October 3, 2014

I’m walking into Walmart, and I hear a man shout, “You’re welcome!” I don’t know what’s going on. Then I realize a man had held the door open for me, and I had not thanked him. A little embarrassed, blaming myself for having my head in the clouds as usual, I thanked him, and he said, triumphantly and smugly, “You’re welcome!”

Patience and Impatience - October 3, 2014

He’s a Jewish kid who has grown up to be a world-famous singer and poet. For all of the countries he has played concerts in, somehow he has never been to Israel, the land of his ancestors. He‘s 37, and he’s here in Israel, and a reporter asks him if he is a practicing Jewish person. He says, “I’m always practicing. Sometimes, I feel the fear of G-d. I do feel that fear sometimes. I got to get myself together.” And now he’s on the stage at Binyanei Ha’Uma convention center in Jerusalem. And he sings a few songs, and the crowd loves him, adores him; showers him with wild applause. But for him, it’s just not happening. Maybe it’s the fear of G-d that he was talking about; maybe it’s about performing in Jerusalem. Or maybe it’s that he knows what his songs should sound like, and he is not doing anything justice, not the words or the music or himself or the people who have come to see him. So he says to the audience: “If it doesn’t get any better, we’ll just end the concert and I’ll refund your money. Some nights one is raised off the ground and some nights you just can’t get off the ground. There’s no point lying about it. And tonight we just haven’t been getting off the ground. It says in the Kabbalah that if you can’t get off the ground, you should stay on the ground. And this is a terrible thing to happen to Jerusalem. So listen, we’re going to leave the stage now, and try to profoundly meditate in the dressing room, to get ourselves back into shape. And if we can manage, we’ll be back.”

Smile At The Crocodile – September 28, 2014

You remember Peter Pan. One of the most famous fairy tales of all time, the story written by J. M. Barrie, made popular in the last century by Walt Disney and Mary Martin, appeals to children in a poignant way. The ambivalence that children have about growing up (they want to grow up but they want to stay children) is a basic human conflict. The story occurs on the night before Wendy is going to have to leave the children’s bedroom, and so she goes to Never Neverland where people never have to grow up.

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