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Student perspectives

Conflict Resolution and Unity


 The Aish Kodesh brings an interesting insight on this week’s parsha. A generally accepted principle in the world of homeownership, even in the time of Moshe, was that you should only buy a home before planning on how to furnish it. It makes sense, right? Generally, you cannot plan what is to go inside a room before you know what kind of space you are working with. But in Masechet Brachot (55a) it states that Moshe wanted the vessels of the Temple built before the structure itself. This does not make sense. Could it be that Moshe, the leader of the Jewish people, was not up to date on interior design? Or was he just upset when Betzalel, the man he hired to design these vessels, challenged his instructions?

It would not be the first, or last, for that matter, recorded instance of disagreement between two Jews. In fact, one serious Talmudic debate (Megillah, 7a) was whether or not to commemorate the events of Purim as a Jewish holiday. That’s right, Purim was almost not a holiday and Megillat Esther just another story in Jewish history. Can you imagine? No Hamantashen! This Talmudic debate was a long one, with strong arguments presented by both sides. Each was strongly convicted in their beliefs, so much so that this argument could have resulted in some Jews celebrating Purim and some not. So why do all of us celebrate Purim today?

This verse in Deuteronomy-- "you are all children of Hashem" --cited later in the debate, reminds us that the need for a national unity supersedes this debate. It's the overriding factor. So today, all Jews enjoy Purim together because our Rabbis saw that we cannot operate as a nation divided.

In life it is easy to get caught up in debates: some trivial, some important. We get stuck in the details and sometimes forget the bigger picture. That is how divisions occur. Unfortunately such conflicts and resulting splits are far too common today. Friendships are lost and communities splintered. I have experienced this several times in my own community, and I’m sure many of you have too. But you do not have to let it continue in the future. 

I challenge each of you sitting here tonight to find one conflict in your life and spend time this week to resolve it. If we can solve small ones now, we can prevent them from creating more damage in the future.

Shabbat Shalom.

Aaron is pictured on the right.

Pekudei, AEPi, and the Olympics


 This week’s Torah portion is Pekudei. Moses is called upon by Hashem to construct the Tabernacle. In order to do so, Hashem anointed that each Jew "shall give, everyone who goes through the counting: half a shekel."

Now as we look forward we know Moses completed building the Tabernacle and the divine presence comes to dwell within it. I want to focus tonight on some of the details of the building. In the Midrash, we know that Hashem asks for anything the people can contribute: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Why gold, why silver, and why bronze? Why not just one?  Let's look to something of present day: The Olympics. Each Olympian strives to be atop the podium; they want that gold medal. Each athlete wants to be the best in the world, to change it. But we can't all win the gold. Some of us prosper in competition, some don't. It isn't a testament to who we are, we all contribute differently. We may want to be the a philanthropist, a tutor, you name it, but without the silver and bronze we won't move forward. The Olympic Games are just like AEPi: every one of us brings something different to the table. In AEPi, we all have different roles. Some of us sit on the executive board leading each other to a higher success. Our strong brotherhood with individuals allows us as a chapter to grow from within. Our exciting social life affords us prosperous relationships with sororities, social groups, and alike around campus. Our Jewish outreach and philanthropic efforts to organizations like Chabad and 'Save A Child's Heart' present our continuous efforts to better the community. So just remember, it doesn't matter if you're helping save puppies in Sochi or shredding the half-pipe, each and every one of us matters.

 Jason is pictured on the right.


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