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HHD 5779/2018: Kol Nidre Sermon

Has Anyone here read the bestseller “The 5 Love Languages?”

According to its author Gary Chapman, a couple’s therapist and Pastor, people tend to show love to a partnerin the way they’d personally most like to receive it. For example, those of us who need a big bear hug when we’re stressed might assume our partners would want the same.  In reality, our partner may wish we had helped them cross something off their never-ending to-do list instead.  Or, You might like your partner to say “I LOVE YOU” and instead, he is expressing love by fixing the broken dishwasher.

This presumptive approach can be ineffective because we all have different preferences when it comes to what makes us feel loved and cared for.

In his best seller which has sold more than 11 million copies, Chapman outlines five love languages.  They are:

words of affirmation, - (example)

acts of service,  (example)

receiving gifts, (example)

quality time (example) and

physical touch(example).

Which is your love language? 

Which is your partner’s love language? 

Taking the time to learn and really understand your partner’s primary love language, which is often different than your own, can improve communication and strengthen your bond. 

 It can make you realize, “Oh she really does Love me. She just expresses it differently.” Or, Oh maybe I will try to express my love in a way that my partner really prefers.

Chapmans 5 love languages reminds me of the “5 Legged Jewish Identity Table” put forth by Avram Infeld.  (HELP WITH STRONGER TRANSITION)

Avrahm Infeld has a unique perspective on Judaism and the Jewish people. He was born and raised in South Africa, made Aliyah and attended University in Israel and has lived and worked in the US. He has served as President of Hillel International, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world. As President of Hillel International, he visited Jews in over 60 Hillels around the world.  Put simply, he has had the opportunity to meet with many, many kinds of identifying Jews. Even more than one can meet by coming to Synagogue of the Summit (LAUGH).

Avraham Infeld's wonders can we as Jews be UNIFIED without BEING UNIFORM? Can we be AM ECHAD (one people) without being Uniform?

He presents the theory of a five-legged table. A table with 5 legs is very stable.  He says table can stand on 4. A table can stand on 3. But a table can not stand on 2 and on 1 it is not even a table. He encourages people to internalize 3 of 5 pillars.

He shares that he believes that individuals need to have 3 but that we do not each share the same 3 pillars.

I am curious to learn which of these pillars/legs are integral to your Jewish identity. Which are less so?

Also, how do you feel about or relate to those whose identity pillars are different than your own?

Might you have a 6thLeg that is not covered?

That brings us back to Infeld’s 5 legged table. Jewish identity, according to Infeld, requires each person to have 3 of 5 possible legs. The legs of  Jewish identity are:  memory, family, covenant, Israel and Hebrew.

Jewish Memory –At Passover seder, we say “In every generation, each human being must see himself or herself as if he or she personally experienced the Exodus from Egypt.”That memory is core to Jewish identity.  The word that appears so often in our prayer books and holy texts is zeker/Remember: Yizkor (memorial Service), Zikranot (RH Shofar Service) and Zachrenu L’chayyim (YK AND RH). All related to memory and remembering. Young couple falls in love, get under the canopy, and break a glass. Why? I often say it is so that the guests know when to proclaim Mazel Tov. The reason is so that they remember the Destruction of Temple in Jerusalem. What does that half to do with the happy couple and their wedding? On the surface, Nothing! Yet, as members of the Jewish people we link our personal narratives to our common memory. The challenge of Jewish Education is, Infield  argues, “How do you take the individual Jew open his mind and link his personal memory to the collective memory of the Jewish people?”

That is Jewish Memory

Mishpacha- Family- In the Torah, we are referred to as Bnei Yisrael. Children of Yisrael. This is a kinship term. It is not about WHO you like but WHO you Love. It is why SOS gives scholarships to our members who are graduating h.s. seniors. It is why State of Israel rescued Ethiopian Jews and brought them to live in Israel.  It is why when you visit any country in the world, you can call a synagogue and ask to be invited to a Shabbat dinner. I have done that in France and Costa Rica. Did I know the people? NO- But they were Mishpacha/Family!!!

In the 1970s Chase Manhattan Bank had a marketing campaign with the slogan: You have a friend at Chase Manhattan.  Around the same time, the Israeli Bank, Bank Leumi  was moving into the NY  market. Bank Leumi’s motto, “ You may have a friend at Chase Manhattan, but we are Mishpacha!”


Mt. Sinai/Covenant- Jewish communal and individual behavior is shaped by the covenant established at Mt. Sinai. However you interpret what happened there.   Whether you believe at Sinai  we received the 10 commandments or 613 mitzvot or the entire Torah or The Entire written and oral traditions. The covenantal experience at Sinai teaches us  a) there is an ALMIGHTY  in the world (job is already taken so no person is god); b- we are called upon to leave a better world (tikkun olam) and c) we Jews live a lifestyle that helps to remind us of who we are and who we are called to be by the sacred encounter of Sinai.

4A Land of Israel or 4B State of Israel-Israel is warehouse of Jewish memory. When we pray the Amidah 3 times/day we pray for the end of the dispersion of Jews and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. We pray for rain at its proper time. Not in for rain in the proper time in Colorado but in Israel. At our Pasover seders, we end by singing, “L’shanah Ha’bah b’Yerushalym” Next year in Jerusalem. When we pray in synagogue, we face toward land of Israel.

Then there is the State of Israel/Eretz Yisrael- the homeland of the Jewish people. In State of Israel, the Jewish calendar is the national calendar. According to the law of Return, every Jew can make Aliyah, return to Israel. There will no longer be a Jewish refugee who wander the globe homeless.

Israel: The Land and The State!

5) Hebrew Language- Hebrew is the historical Language of Jewish Prayer (not the only one),  modern language revived by Ben Yehuda, and the official language of  the Jewish homeland.  According to Chabad and Jewish mystics, Hebrew is the means by which divine energy entered the world and led to creation.Newspapers, Poetry, Novels, and Songs are all written in Hebrew.

Language is value laden and conveys cultural concepts. In English we say to fall in love. Why? It relates to the “fall of man.” In Hebrew we say, l’hitahev/ It is a hitpael, a reflexive verb that requires give and take.  HEBREW

Jewish Memory Mishpacha/Family;  Mt. Sinai and Covenant,  Israel, and Hebrew.

In the coming year, how might you internalize and deepen one or more of the legs on which your unique Jewish Identity stands. Jewish Memory: Our memories are our heirlooms. Might you create Jewish memories with your family by making latkes at hannukah or hosting a family seder?  Might you share with your children or grandchildren, what Jewish life was like when you were a kid. Mt. Sinai/Covenant- might you come to Shabbat morning Torah Study or participate in the mitzvah of Bikkor Cholim -caring for the sick? Hebrew- Might you study adult Hebrew with Carolyn or buy some Hebrew music CDs? The State of Israel– Have you never visited Israel? Perhaps it is time to plan a visit to our homeland, land of startups and Jews from around the world. Or Perhaps, you might subscribe to an Israeli Newspaper (Ha’Aretz) or Magazine (Jerusalem Report). We are mishpacha- Might you open your house to Jewish strangers for Shabbat dinner or a Seder?

Ideas for Stronger Ending:

In Conclusion, I want to return to the 5 Love languages I discussed at the beginning of my sermon. Just as each of us has our own unique ways of expressing/receiving love, each of us has our “Jewish Identity Tables” with its unique legs. Some of us have 3 legs, some have 4 and some have a 5 legged Table. By understanding our own and those of our family, our friends, our neighbors and Jews of other communities,  we can deepen our appreciation for our fellow Jews who embody and express their Jewish identity differently from us. And, as a Jewish people we can be Unified without being Uniform.

Wed, May 22 2024 14 Iyyar 5784