If Donald Trump and Maimonides were discussing their guiding ethical principles…

I was pondering the ethical contrast that might exist in a conversation between President Trump and Maimonides*.  Perhaps the conversation might go as follows:

1.TRUMP: “Winning is everything. To lose is to show weakness so never, ever, ever let your enemy sense compassion or compromise in your demeanor.  To do so is a huge mistake, HUGE… and believe me, I know huge from HUGE.”

RAMBAM: “A wise man in honest in all his transactions.  When he says “no” he means no, and when he says “yes” he means yes.  He does not encroach on another man’s occupation, and never mistreats anyone.  In short, he prefers rather to be among the offended than among the offenders.”

2. TRUMP: “Nothing in moderation. אם כבר, עז כבר….    Why have a leather chair when you can have a gold throne?  Always show your wealth and let ‘em know who’s the boss.”

RAMBAM: “Knowledge of the Torah cannot be sustained by one who is indolent, nor can it be acquired by those who combine study with luxurious living and feasting; it can be attained only by one who renounces the world for Torah, and regularly submits to physical discomfort, giving no sleep to his eyes, nor slumber to his eyelids.”

3. TRUMP: “Tell it like it is. Say whatever comes to your head.  No reason to think before you speak.  Everyone is dying to hear what comes out of your mouth anyway… Tweet in the middle of the night.  That is the best time to catch everyone off guard.”

RAMBAM: “A wise man does not shout and scream when he speaks, but talks gently with all people, and never raises his voice unduly.  He gives everyone a friendly greeting, judges all men favorably, loves peace and strives for it, so that all are kindly disposed toward him.  He dwells on the merits of his fellow man, without ever disparaging him.  If he finds that his words are helpful and heeded, he speaks; otherwise, he keeps quiet.”

*Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (מֹשֶׁה בֶּן־מַימוֹןMōšeh bēn-Maymōn; Arabic: موسى بن ميمون‎‎ Mūsā bin Maymūn), commonly known as Maimonides /mˈmɒn.dz/[9] (my-mon-i-deez; Greek: Μαϊμωνίδης Maïmōnídēs), and also referred to by the acronym Rambam /ˌrɑːmˈbɑːm/ (רמב״ם‎, for Rabbeinu Mōšeh bēn Maimon, “Our Rabbi Moses son of Maimon”), was a medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. In his time, he was also a preeminent astronomer and physician.[10][11][12][13] Born in Cordova, Almoravid Empire (present-day Spain) on Passover Eve, 1135 or 1138,[14][15][16][17][18] he worked as a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Morocco and Egypt. He died in Egypt on December 12, 1204, whence his body was taken to the lower Galilee and buried in Tiberias.[19][20]    – From Wikipedia

Our First Shabbat Dinner!

Join us for our first Shabbat dinner.  We don’t know if there will be 4 of us or 40, but we do know Judith Markowitz will lead us in song, there will be beautiful music, delicious food, and great conversation.  Plans are to have the dinner at Chez Hyams but, if lots of folks want to join, we’ll shift to someone who has a bigger house in the Dublin/San Ramon area.

Please bring one of the following to feed 8 plus something to drink:

  1. A vegetarian main dish
  2. A fabulous salad
  3. Hors d’oeuvres or foods to pass around the table

If you are musical, bring your instruments

Friday, March 17th, 7:15 pm

Email jamiehyams@comcast.net to rsvp and let us know what you will be bringing.

Welcome to Kehillat Haverim

Do you have the Prayerbook Blues?

Are you lost when you open a prayerbook? Where did these prayers come from? Who wrote them?  How did prayer develop? Join me for a 3-session exploration of the history, development and purpose of Jewish prayer.
Dates:  2/16, 2/23, 3/2
7:30 – 9:00 pm
Location: Beth Chaim Congregation
1800 Holbrook Avenue, Danville
Register by letting me know you will be joining the class.

Welcome to Kehillat Haverim

Welcome to Kehillat Haverim.  Kehillat Haverim is Hebrew for a community of friends.  I am creating this blog as a way to grow my community and as a safe place to explore ideas among friends at a time when the world feels so chaotic.

My journey through rabbinical school is powerful and exhilarating and transformative. But what I am learning in the classroom is only part of the story.  As my thinking expands, I talk to you, my friends, and together we explore these ideas in more depth.  I am loving the conversations we are having on our bikes, on our walks and at our dinner table.

Much of what enriches my life happens at our Friday night dinner table, in our backyard sukkah, at our Academy Awards party, on bike rides, and on the beach.   For me, an authentic Jewish life is less about strict adherence to Jewish law and more about living our lives in community and engagement with Jewish ideas.   Over time, I am hoping that Kehillat Haverim will grow into a community of friends, living our lives in community under the umbrella of Jewish values and nurtured by Jewish tradition. I hope many of us will gather on a monthly basis for Shabbat dinner to mark the end of the work week; to enjoy each other’s company; and of course, to partake of really good food.   And as opportunities arise for other gatherings (gourmet potlucks in the sukkah, Passover cooperative dinners, Havdalah wine tastings), I’ll post that information too.

Regarding our chaotic world, what is happening to our society today is not o.k.  I need your help as I determine where to put my energy in response.  I’ve never been an activist but to quote Hillel “If not now, when?”  

So, let’s get this party started.  What do you think?

Jamie