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Dannielle Blumenthal PhD @DrDannielle
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1) So I went to a different synagogue today and heard from one of the great #Jewish thinkers, leaders, scholars, good souls of our time, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.

It is hard to overstate his influence but let's just say this was once in a lifetime.…
2) Rabbi Telushkin was the scholar-in-residence at Congregation Beth Sholom in Potomac, Maryland. That means he gave multiple talks, Friday night, during services, after services, and again just before Havdalah (ritual ending the Sabbath).

I got to hear two of the talks.
3) Why should you care about this when there are more important things happening in the world?

I would argue that we spend a lot of time talking about the bad actors that have invaded our culture. We should talk about the good ones, more.
4) Congregation Beth Sholom is a modern Orthodox synagogue, in the Jewish tradition I grew up in. Mainstream, Ashkenazi, Yeshiva University, highly educated, highly professional, doctors, lawyers, scientists, religious people.
Potomac - nice Jewish community.
Nice kiddush, kugel.
5) It was weird for me. I became disillusioned a long time ago with religion, but have journeyed back to faith over the past few years. It's still a little jarring to go back and forth between my anger, my skepticism, and wanting to believe.
6) What was it that made me so angry?
You guessed it: A sick, perverted rabbi.
7) What was it that kept me so angry?
You guessed it: Everybody covered for him.
8) What was it that kept me so angry?
You guessed it: There is a layer of normal that passes for society, and a layer underneath that is the true reality of those that suffer without end.
9) But there were good things about my childhood too, and one of them was the kind of genius minds, wrapped around truly amazing souls, who wrote the books I studied and who shaped my philosophy of life -- along with so many other religious Jews of my time.
10) Before Rabbi Telushkin spoke, he was introduced by the man who sponsored the event. As it happens, he is from New York, where we are from.

He had an anecdote about @POTUS @realDonaldTrump that had us laughing.
11) The man's father was in charge of the rules committee at a golf club just north of New York City. @realDonaldTrump @POTUS bought the club and one day his helicopter set down right on top of the golf course.
12) Keep in mind that the people in this synagogue are living and working near Washington DC, so we've got members of Congress, lawyers and bureaucrats with an affinity for rules.
13) So Trump's security team goes up to this guy's father and says, "You'll have to clear the golf course now, Mr. Trump is here for a visit."

The father responds: "Tell Mr. Trump that he can call the office for an appointment."

14) You see, this is the thing. These people don't know anything about pedogate, pizzagate, Q, FISA declas, Antifa, or the pee-pee dossier.

They just don't.
15) Do you know what their version of a secret society is?

It's when a bunch of guys heads to the kitchen and has a l'chayim before the official kiddush starts.
16) To this group, President Trump, as President, is impulsive, egotistical, & even a bit of a maniac.

They want sanity to return, but I think it is b/c they don't realize (you can't unless you've seen it up close) what a bunch of sociopaths have been inhabiting DC for so long.
17) And this explains why, at the end of the day, most Jews are Democrats (and even religious Jews are, and I used to be one too.)

They truly believe you can help people and be rational about negotiating with your enemies.
18) Not sure why most Jews don't get this, even after the Holocaust, but when someone is an evil sonofabitch, they really don't want to sit down and talk with you.

A rabbi literally said this to me: I don't understand why the guy who harassed me didn't just stop to talk.
19) Rabbi Telushkin is from that generation of Jewish scholars who believed in rational discussion with a side of emotional intelligence.

He talked about forgiveness, and this is pertinent to survivors of child sexual abuse.
20) According to Jewish belief, if a person has wronged you and asks three times for forgiveness, you are cruel to be withholding. UNLESS the harm they've done is irrevocable.

Obviously SRA, CSA and all forms of abuse cause irrevocable harm.
21) There are times when a Jew is NOT ALLOWED to forgive. Did you know that?

We may not forgive a murderer. Why?

Because ONLY THE WRONGED PARTY can provide the forgiveness -- and that person is DEAD.
22) So when someone tells a rape victim to "just let it go," or "get over it already," it is not only wrong but SPIRITUALLY WRONG to say so.
23) Rabbi Telushkin quoted Rabbi Abraham Twerski, a well known Jewish psychiatrist and addiction specialist, to explain that sometimes it is useful to forgive because the anger hurts you like a hot coal in your hand.
24) Here's some other stuff the rabbi talked about. He covered so much ground.
25) What is the right way to receive another human being?
Never in anger.
26) A gentile once came to Rabbi Shammai, an ancient sage who was also a builder, and said "I want to convert to Judaism, teach me the Torah in a sentence."

Rabbi Shammai took a brick and chased the man away.

He was furious that the man would reduce an entire faith this way.
27) Rabbi Shammai realized that he did the wrong thing.
Later he wrote, "receive all men in good countenance."

A leader has to be emotionally intelligent, enough to see their own mistakes.
28) The same man came to Rabbi Hillel with the same question.

Rabbi Hillel was famous for his good temperament.

When disputes arose between the schools of Hillel and Shammai, Jews follow Hillel.
29) Rabbi Hillel said to the man, "What is odious to you, do not do to your fellow man."

The rest he could study later.
30) Rabbi Telushkin said: Why didn't Rabbi Hillel simply say "Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself?"

Because the "odious" thing was more memorable.

People don't want to hear tiresome cliches.
31) The Rabbi talked about how every man can be a great human being.

As a populist I was very charged up to hear about this.
32) He quoted Ethics of the Fathers: "Who is wealthy? He who is happy with what he has."

Telushkin explained: Nobody is ever satisfied.

But you can be happy and grateful.
33) Rabbi Telushkin told a story about the billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

The @Forbes ranking of rich people came out, and Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were #1 and #2, respectively. Adelson came in third.

The New York Times ran a story: Adelson isn't satisfied.
34) (I can't find the link.)
35) "Who is strong?" continued Rabbi Telushkin, again citing Ethics of the Fathers. "He who controls his evil impulses."

Now I can't remember what he said about this. I just like that he focused on how every single person can be great.
36) Finally: "Who is wise? He who learns from every man."

Here the rabbi focused on the wisdom of NON-intellectuals.
37) The intellectual, he says, rationalizes reality into some sort of theory.

The farmer looks at what really happens in the world. He learns from what's going on, not from his own head.

That's why he gets smarter, while the smug academic peaks, and then his knowledge declines.
38) There is probably a lot more that the rabbi said, but I want to leave you with this thing. This is the most important.
39) Religious rituals are important, because they ensure the continuity of the Jewish faith.


And a "religious Jew" who isn't ethical isn't really religious.

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