The Torah readings from Sh’mot to V’zot HaB’rachah focus on the work of Moshe Rabbenu, "Moses our Teacher."  Moses is the first rabbi in Jewish history. His legacy is studded with great rabbis, not excluding those of the present generation.  But from the time of the Emancipation, the Jewish people has confused and conflicted the role of the rabbi.

We have produced two types of rabbi -- the rabbi who is a "rav" and the rabbi who is a minister. Sometimes the two roles are successfully merged but in many cases the rabbi has become a split personality.

He wants to be a "rav", a student and scholar, but circumstances (and the need to make a living) have made him into a congregational functionary who conducts services, solemnises marriages and delivers eulogies, for most of which rabbinical knowledge is unnecessary and even irrelevant.

In 1966 an American rabbi, Morris Adler, who was shot and killed in his synagogue on a Shabbat by a demented youth, wrote – it turned out to be his last article – an essay called "Who is the Modern Rabbi?"

He said, "The rabbi is the heir and teacher of the longest continuous history and tradition in the Western world. From early childhood he has trained to look at life from the vantage point of a millennial history. He now sees himself as stranger in a land not his, witness to the discontinuities and the escalation of transitoriness.

"Jewish tradition defines the rabbi as a layman, yet to his parishioners he is a clergyman.

"His is essentially a life of pathos. He suffers a score of alienations and must daily battle for his faith and hope. For he is isolated at the very centre of the community he ‘leads’ and serves as the spokesman of a group-tradition when the group has become all but traditionless…"

"A rachmonus auf Moshe Rabbenu."


According to the classical rabbis, there are ten great songs. One of the greatest is "Shirat HaYam", the Song of the Sea, which we sing this Shabbat. Singing has been intrinsic to Judaism from time immemorial.

Sometimes it was impossible not to sing, as the human heart pulsated with the ecstasy of being alive and the feeling of what a wonderful world God has given us.

Sometimes we sang through our tears: no tragedy or tyrant could shatter our faith that life was still good and there would yet be things to celebrate.

No wonder the sages remarked that there were halls in heaven that opened only to the sound of song.

No wonder too that Jewish song-making has always been part of Jewish worship, which was never satisfied to read, recite or even declaim the prayer service but built up a tradition of "nussach", standard melodies for every season of the year.

No wonder Israel Zangwill says that the Jewish year was like a musical box.

No wonder that the commentators – amongst all their range of interpretations of the future tense in the opening words of "Shirat HaYam" – said that "Az Yashir Moshe", Moses will always be at our side to sing the praise of the Creator.

Dr. Raymond Apple, Jerusalem, Israel

The Jewish Observer,

Los Angeles



Jewish journal that provides coverage of Los Angeles Jewish news regardless of religious faction or nationality.
JEWISH ADVERTISING? E-mail The Los Angeles Jewish Observer(SM) today directly from your mobile phone, at advertising@jewishobserver-la.com, or use the

"Contact Us" Page! The Jewish Observer Los Angeles news.
The Jewish Observer is now viewable from your mobile phones on Androids, iPhones, Window Phones and Blackberries!
Copyright @ 2019, The Jewish Observer, Los Angeles, All Rights Reserved.  (5779)

                            8-14 Shevet, 5779                                      Jan 14-20, 2019 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES --  618th Web Ed.




SACRAMENTO -- Governor Gavin Newsom today tasked California Government Operations Agency Secretary Marybel Batjer, one of the most accomplished management experts in state government, to lead a comprehensive modernization and reinvention of the troubled California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and make recommendations for new long-term leadership and reform at DMV – with an emphasis on transparency, worker performance, speed of service and overall consumer satisfaction.

In that capacity, she will serve as Chair of a new DMV Reinvention Strike Team for six months.

In addition, Governor Newsom ordered an accelerated Review of Early Findings within 30 days of the independent audit of DMV initiated by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., which is being managed by the Department of Finance.    

“By any metric, California DMV has been chronically mismanaged and failed in its fundamental mission to the state customers it serves and the state workers it employs,” said Governor Newsom. “It’s time for a reinvention and I’m grateful to Secretary Batjer for agreeing to take on this tremendous responsibility on behalf of California taxpayers.”

Batjer is the first-ever Secretary of the California Government Operations Agency, appointed by Governor Brown in June 2013 after his government restructuring and creation of that agency. She has overseen the overhaul of numerous state operations, including procurement, real estate, and human resources. During her leadership of the Strike Team, she will remain as Secretary of the California Government Operations Agency.

Prior to her appointment, she served as Vice President of Public Policy and Corporate Social Responsibility for Caesars Entertainment Inc., the world’s largest gaming-entertainment company. Before that, she was Cabinet Secretary to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chief of Staff to Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn, Undersecretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.


SACRAMENTO -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the following statement after the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced its intention to file for bankruptcy:

"PG&E provides gas and electric service to 16 million Californians. From the moment I was elected, I have been closely monitoring the impact of PG&E’s existing and potential future liability for the deadly wildfires on the victims of the fires and the consumers who rely on PG&E for their electric and gas service.

"When I took office one week ago today, I immediately instructed my team to meet with the California Public Utilities Commission, CAISO, PG&E, and labor unions representing the workers who work for PG&E. My staff and I have been in constant contact throughout the week and over the weekend with these stakeholders and regulators. Everyone’s immediate focus is, rightfully, on ensuring Californians have continuous, reliable and safe electric and gas service.

"While PG&E announced its intent to file bankruptcy today, the company should continue to honor promises made to energy suppliers and to our community. Throughout the months ahead, I will be working with the Legislature and all stakeholders on a solution that ensures consumers have access to safe, affordable and reliable service, fire victims are treated fairly, and California can continue to make progress toward our climate goals."