Rabbi Weiss Was Not Billy Graham

Rabbi Weiss Was Not Billy Graham

The Rabbi was our synagogue’s spiritual leader for a decade or more. Since it was my childhood, it seemed like forever. Then he got fired. My parents were not happy. The governing board soon replaced Rabbi Weiss with a younger guy, who wore a United States Air Force uniform at his very first public appearance at the Jewish Community Center of Bayside Hills.

My mother disapproved. She felt it was flamboyant, not fitting for a Rabbi. “They got rid of Rabbi Weiss” my mother said, “because he is not Billy Graham!”

Rabbi Weiss may not have been Billy Graham, but to this day I am still chewing over one of his sermons.  I do not recall at all Rabbi’s sermon at my Bar Mitzvah, but the sermon a week later when Alan Silver was the Bar Mitzvah Boy stays with me forever.

Here is what the Rabbi said:

“Alan, when G-d told Noah that he was going to flood the evil world so go build an Ark, Noah did what G-d told him.

“But when G-d told Abraham that he was going to destroy two evil cities, Abraham argued with G-d.

“‘Will you spare the cities if you can find 100 just men in them?’

“‘No, said G-d. For the sake of 100 just men among them, I will spare these evil people.”]

“‘Then will you save the two cities if they have 99 just men, because you are everywhere, O’ Lord, so you will be the hundredth.”

‘God agreed to Abraham’s terms, but returned to say that he could not find 99 just men.

“So Abraham got G-d to agree to save the cities for the sake of even 10 just men, then 9 since G-d, who is everywhere, would be the tenth.  But to no avail, the cities and all their people were turned to salt as Abraham and his brother Lot left . . . with their families and servants.

“G-d ordered them to look only forward, but not back upon the destruction of those cities, but Lot’s wife, turned around to look anyway, and she turned into a pillar of salt. Why if you were to go there today, you could even see how she looks as a pillar of salt… if the location is ever found, that is.”

Now the part that really got me was the conclusion:

“Do not be like Noah, Alan,” said the Rabbi, “Be like Abraham. Argue with G-d!”

Leave a Reply