From the Rabbi:
I once read an interesting news item in a magazine. A 45 year-old man in Poland broke off with his 34 year-old girlfriend, who is a dentist. A few days before he was scheduled for a dental examination by his girlfriend, he told her that he was leaving her for another woman. The man appeared in his now ex-girlfriend’s office for his dental examination. The ex-girlfriend said that she had intended to do a regular dental exam, but when she saw him lying there in the dental chair, she just thought to herself “What an S.O.B!” and she gave him a powerful anesthetic and yanked out all of his teeth one by one. After he awoke and found out what had happened to his teeth, the shocked man said, “I thought she would act in a professional manner.” And the man’s new girlfriend left him because he was now toothless.
The lesson that we can learn from this event is that sometimes people are their own worst enemies. They do things which aren’t in their own best interest and then they suffer the consequences. Now I’m not familiar with the type of medical care they have in Poland. Perhaps Poland has socialized medicine and a patient isn’t allowed to choose his own dentist. But, if possible, shouldn’t this man have considered not to allow his ex-girlfriend to continue as his dentist after breaking off their relationship for another woman?
But we all do things which we should realize will have negative consequences for us. In the Bible, Chapter 10.8 of the Book of Ecclesiastes tells us “He who digs a pit shall fall into it and whoever breaks down a fence shall be bitten by a serpent.” The actions we take have consequences. And we should always be aware of the consequences before acting.
So if you have diabetes, listen to your doctor and stay away from those sugary desserts. If you want to lose weight, also stay away from those fatty, sugary foods and avoid buffets, where there’s no portion control. If you want to greatly increase the odds that you won’t get lung cancer, don’t smoke cigarettes.
And there are foreseeable consequences resulting from the way we speak to other people. Harsh, nasty words will have consequences. And once words are out of your mouth, they can’t be retrieved. They can’t be taken back. They’ll have consequences in the way other people react to them.
Remember that optimism is infectious and pessimism is also infectious. So if you want to maintain a positive, optimistic attitude toward life, avoid people with negative attitudes and seek out people with positive attitudes. If you know that some people just tick you off or make you angry or just bore the heck out of you, avoid them and try to associate with people you like, people who make you feel good, people who are interesting, people you like to talk to.
It can’t always be done, but try to avoid personal situations which result in unpleasantness. Remember that everything you do, every decision you make, has consequences. The consequences can be favorable or unfavorable. And everybody has a pretty good idea what the consequences of various actions will be. And every mistake a person makes should serve as a learning experience, so that the mistake which led to undesirable consequences in the past isn’t repeated. If you keep n repeating the same mistakes over and over again, then you’re not learning from your mistakes.
And, above all, if your girlfriend is also your dentist and you break her heart by dumping her for a new girlfriend, if you want to keep your teeth, don’t be a jerk. Find a new dentist.
Rabbi David Weissman
President Lily Ann Revitch
Dear Temple Members,
I look back over the last few years and think of the conversations I’ve had with people. I remember asking why they joined a synagogue. When a family moves to a new location the three things they look for are usually: 1) schools 2) doctors and, 3) a place to worship. The first two are necessities- the third is a need, a need to put meaning into their lives in their new location.
So what must a synagogue offer? I think that from the first time one enters the synagogue it must give forth a feeling of warmth, a feeling of inclusiveness, a feeling of welcoming. Then we must explore what we as Jews want from a synagogue. Maybe it’s understandable and meaningful religious services, education for the children and also for the adults.
I also think we must offer social programs that help fulfill a need that all newcomers have, a need to meet people with similar ideas as themselves and a social life with new friends. They might want a place where perhaps they can volunteer some time. If a new person has been involved with a congregation before they may want to find a place where they can continue to have a similar involvement and feel that they are making a contribution.
As we examine our Temple Shalom we must ask ourselves if we living up to all these criteria. I think we are. Is there room for improvement? Always! When a visitor or prospective member enters our doors do we act according to what we started from the beginning of Temple Shalom? Are all visitors and prospective members introduced to others as well as our Rabbi? This is our tradition and we should take pride in how well we do it.
Lily Ann Revitch