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Avy Bomzer follows in his righteous parents’ footsteps with his inspirational recitation of the Kiddush and Hamotzi. His benching is melodic and the Havdalah ceremony was moving.

June, the eishes chayil, sees to it that all the necessities a guest might need are ready and in place.

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The community of Midwood is warm and heimishe and the other guests at the Shabbos table(the Laufers and the Eisens) made us feel right at home.

We can’t wait to be invited again.

Phil and Miriam Schiffman
(Via E-Mail)

The Rabbi’s Drasha

I’d like to thank reader Harold Marks for his July 4 letter responding to my column of June 13 in which I championed the traditional rabbi’s drasha before Mussaf.

Mr. Marks challenged me by asking, “Who says there should be a drasha at all?” According to him we should have someone compile the very best of weekly Internet parshah posts and have a reading break or perhaps the rav could e-mail it to people to read at their leisure after their Shabbos meal.

While this might be a good idea, there are many reasons why it should not replace the weekly sermon. We are taught “Your eyes should behold your teacher.” There is a different level of absorption when someone is talking to you. It is a special kind of osmosis that is simply not there when you merely read something. (On a practical level, it is likely that more than fifty percent of the congregation won’t bother reading the material.)

I remember when I was a teenager and I first entered Rav Moshe Feinstein’s shiur, I couldn’t understand his Yiddish. I asked Rav Moshe if perhaps for the first few months, instead of coming to the shiur, I should just leave a tape recorder there so I could go over it slowly and familiarize myself with his Yiddish. He told me it was a good idea but that I should attend every lecture anyway for the reason mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Further, if the speaker is sincere, the spoken word penetrates the listener’s heart like an arrow. As we are taught, “Things that come from the heart enter the heart.”

As for Mr. Marks’s suggestion that the rabbi might be something less than an intellectual or might speak too much about politics or might even be a sham rabbi, I certainly recommend choosing a shul with a real rabbi who has Torah, yiras Shamayim, enough worldly knowledge, and a certain amount of charisma. This should not pose a problem in a wonderful place like Brooklyn.

Mr. Marks plainly states that at work he has a boss and at home his wife tells him what to do, so he’s not looking for another authority figure in shul. I beg to differ. In Pirkei Avos we are all instructed, “Make for yourself a rebbe [a Torah authority].” For many, such an authority is found in the person of the rabbi of their congregation.

In addition, the crux of my article was how recent norms will impact on our children. I’m sure we wouldn’t want our children to say, “I have bosses at home, I have bosses at school, and I don’t need people to tell me how to behave in shul!”

Finally, Mr. Marks suggest that the rabbi needs to find new ways to solve the sitzfleish problem. Maybe he should walk around and maybe his drasha should be interactive. I’ll admit that telling a joke or an anecdote is more necessary than ever. But we’re in trouble if the rabbi has to start wearing a Big Bird costume or needs to actively solicit the crowd in order to get the congregation’s attention. I know from long rabbinical experience that you can’t please everyone and any change from the tradition will meet as much protest as it will solve any problems.

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