ancient jewish wisdom

Thought Tools April 10, 2012

A certain Passover image is burned into the memories of many American Jews. They remember Grandpa droning his way through the standardized text of the Seder (Passover evening program) while his children make a dutiful effort to listen. His grandchildren succumb to abject boredom. Today, that picture has become rare. Those grandchildren have grown up....

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Graceful Endings

Have you ever been in an audience listening to a speech that never ends? It is an even more ghastly experience for the speaker who plainly wants to finish but just doesn’t seem to be able to wrap it up. The sweat beads on his brow, his eyes dart around frantically seeking a savior, his...

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Wind in Your Sails

There are many life-metaphors to be found in the wonderful world of boats. Boats and people both embark on journeys and both can reach their destinations or sink. When a boat is in the doldrums it is in that notorious windless zone near the equator. Old-time sailing vessels were often stuck there for weeks. When...

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Theopolis Americana

I love this season.  I don’t celebrate Christmas but I respect it and enjoy its sights and sounds.  I enjoy the music in the malls. I enjoy the lavishly lit displays and colorfully decorated homes.  All this is far more noticeable in cities than in remote rural areas. Cities are places where the highs are...

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Open Up

 “I had to let three of my people go last week” she told me, “and you have no idea how miserable I have been.  I wish I could get toughened up so I could do whatever is necessary without feeling such pain!”  “No, you don’t,” I replied.  “In these frightening financial conditions, you may have...

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Whale Oil or Olive Oil

Tonight we light the 8th and final light of Chanukah. Chanukah serves as an antidote to one of the most oppressive sensations that torments us all—shortage.  We agonize over shortage of money, space, love, health, and friends.  Scarcity is even promoted as a part of the sacred sacrament of secularism. It is indeed the rightful...

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Prosperity Power

Tonight, I will not be counting my money by the light of the Chanukah candles. Nor will I do so on any of the remaining evenings of this eight day festival. Unlike the Sabbath candles or the candles for other holydays, these Chanukah flames must not be used for any other purpose.  For instance, you...

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No Thank-you

My wife and I love receiving the thank-you notes a friend sends whenever she is a guest at one of our Shabbat meals. Unlike typical thank-you cards, hers detail the experiences at our table.  She mentions the delicious food, the scintillating conversation, and the stimulating company.  (I am quoting from a recent note she sent!)...

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Leave Your Baggage Behind

It was profoundly disturbing 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. For my part, I encouraged him to observe the traditional mourning routine, but my words fell on deaf ears. During the following six years...

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Excuse Me, God

“Do you have any questions for me?” I asked the applicant for a position in my organization.  “Yes,” she responded.  “How many vacation and sick days do I get each year?”  Needless to say, she got none from me. There is a right way and many wrong ways to interview for a job.  The right...

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