Rabbi Scolnic shares his favorite sermons.

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.

2013: Let's Not Make A Deal

“Let's Make a Deal” was one of the most popular game shows in television history. The original show ran for over 14 years, mostly with Monty Hall as the host, and now they've revived the show for a new generation. You know the show. The people dress up in crazy costumes trying to catch the eye of the host so that he will pick them to go up on stage, and then he gives them a prize and ask them this question: “Now, do you want to keep what you've got, or do you want to choose what's behind one of these doors?”

2013: Who Are You? 

I'm fifteen years old and I'm with my family for the month of July in New Hampshire, living in a cabin on Crystal Lake, just beautiful, just idyllic, except that there are six of us in this little cabin and it rains and it pours for a whole week and we're all getting a little edgy. And then the rain stops and we're all excited just to take a walk down the hill to the little country store on the main road. And my mother says, “You all go on without me. I'm just going to sit right here and listen to the quiet.” So my father takes the four of us down the old road and we can see the country store across the meadow. I say to my little brother, “Come on, David. Let's take a shortcut across the field.” And before my father can say anything, we're running though the field until we get to a stream, and the steam is flooding from all the rain that week, but I'm fifteen, so I lead my brother, who can’t swim, into the stream but the water lifts him up and I just manage to grab him and we make it to the other side but we're wet and scared and cold and I feel as bad as I have ever felt in my life, because my brother could have been hurt and it was my fault. And when my father walks around the road and meets us on the other side, and sees that we’re wet and shivering, he doesn't have to say a word, because he knows that how I feel is punishment enough. When we get back to the cabin, we tell my mother and she is angry and appropriately upset with me.

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