Thought Tools

Ancient Solutions for Modern Problems

That material was taught to the Israelites during forty years in the desert; history’s longest graduate school program. Let’s imagine that you made some incredible discoveries of inestimable value. Recognizing that children are your link to immortality, you desperately wish to be sure that your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and further, will be able to use the...

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Leave Before You Can Travel Forward

I was profoundly disturbed when a member of my congregation told me that he didn’t care that his father had just passed away. They had been estranged for years, he explained, yet I still felt sullied by listening to his utter lack of affection or even respect for his late father. My admonishment to him...

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Color My World

It is true that there is no specific ancient Jewish wisdom on how The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind effectively ended the era of black-and-white movies when they were released in 1939.  But the Torah does teach the permanent principles of color. It even teaches why different colors impact us in different...

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Cows or Corvettes?

In late 1964, after five years of construction, the Verrazano Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island opened to traffic.  It was made of steel and was then the longest suspension bridge in the world.  In order to prevent corrosion from the sea air, it is painted, using about 12,000 gallons of paint.  Since rust would...

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Face the Future Fearlessly

Sam was an unhappy truck driver. He called my radio show from the cab of his 18-wheeler while hauling twenty tons of airplane parts across the Sierra Nevada. Some family history had recently emerged suggesting that Sam was at risk of Huntington’s disease. He was devastated. I spoke to him off the air for a...

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Copper Sky and Iron Earth

“All in a hot and copper sky,The bloody sun, at noon,Right up above the mast did stand,No bigger than the moon.” English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge penned these lines in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. They foreshadow the curse on the ancient mariner after he has killed the albatross. The copper sky as a...

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Why I Leave the Cheese off that Burger

Two of the most common misperceptions about Judaism are that kosher food means food that has been blessed by a rabbi and that Judaism does not believe in an afterlife. One of the reasons so many Jews mistakenly assume that their faith ignores existence after death is because the Hebrew Bible, known as the TaNaCH,...

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Defeating Despair

While serving the synagogue it was my privilege to establish in Southern California, my wife and I frequently sailed our forty-four foot cutter to Catalina Island.  On that 26 mile jaunt, we often saw dolphins, whales, and other beguiling sea life. When fog set in, I’d think of Florence Chadwick, who in 1952 set out...

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