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Erev Shabbat Messages ...

Date Posted Title Excerpt
May 24, 2017 Lighting Up the Eyes I’ve always been a terrible liar. When I was a little girl, it was my body that would give me away. I would fidget or blush or avert my face, and my parents would always know that I wasn’t being honest with them. Even as I got older, however, and learned to hide my fibs in more sophisticated ways, my parents were never fooled by my small acts of deceit. My eyes always gave it away. Continue reading
May 9, 2017 Counting Up These days you can do just about anything on a smart phone! And this includes, evidently, creating a customizable count-down clock which will tick off the seconds, minutes, hours, and days until an occasion of your choosing. Not surprisingly, lifecycle events such as weddings or the birth of a child tend to be most popular for this kind of treatment along with peak moments like retirement, although some of the online count-down clocks I saw marked time until baseball season or Thanksgiving or even tax day (presumably for planning purposes rather than out of sheer joy for April 15). Continue reading
May 2, 2017 More Exciting Than the Moon Thomas Friedman tells the story of the late Neil Armstrong, a devout Christian, who visited Israel after his trip to the moon and was taken on a tour of the Old City of Jerusalem by Israeli archeologist Meir Ben-Dov. When they got to the Hulda Gate, atop the stairs leading to the Temple Mount, Armstrong asked Ben-Dov whether Jesus had stepped anywhere near where they were now standing. “Jesus was a Jew,” Ben-Dov replied. Continue reading
Apr 14, 2017 A Band-Aid on the Seder Plate My teacher, Dr. David Kraemer, tells the following story about a Passover he celebrated many years ago when his daughter was little. On seder night, the Kraemer family gathered together for candle-lighting and recited the blessing, finishing with the words l’hadlik ner shel Yom Tov – Praised are You, God, who commands us to light the holiday candles. Continue reading
Mar 31, 2017 Four Cups of Milk Once, before Pesach, a man entered the home of Rabbi Yossi Ber, and asked him a question: “Tell me, Rabbi, can I fulfill the commandment of the four cups with milk instead of wine?” The rabbi asked him, “Are you – God forbid – ill?” The man answered him, “No, thank God, I am quite healthy, but I cannot afford to buy wine this year.” Rabbi Yossi turned to his wife and said,” Give this man twenty-five rubles.” Continue reading
Mar 24, 2017 How Free is Free Will What does a California home-maker have in common with Egypt’s great Pharaoh? To answer this question we begin with a 1960’s psychology experiment conducted by Drs. Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser. In this study, a team of researchers telephoned California housewives and asked the women if they would be willing to answer a few questions – a relatively simple request with which most subjects complied. Continue reading
Mar 21, 2017 In Vogue Suddenly Shabbat has become very trendy. Or so it would seem from this week’s latest edition of Vogue which featured an article entitled “How to Host a Shabbat Dinner and Why You should – Even if You Aren’t Celebrating.” I will admit that I approached this piece of journalism with more than a little bit of skepticism, wondering what of significance a women’s fashion and lifestyle magazine could possibly have to say about the holiest day of the Jewish week. Continue reading
Mar 15, 2017 Finding Esther Towards the beginning of his rise to power, Hitler was delivering one of his infamous speeches at a large town hall meeting in Munich when he noticed a man in the front row making derisive facial expressions punctuated by occasional bursts of laughter. Along with finding this strange display distracting, Hitler feared that the man’s lack of respect would seriously undermine the Nazi message. When his presentation concluded, he asked that the heckler be brought before him and indignantly demanded to know his identity. “I am a Jew,” the man said evenly. “Then you should be taking my address more seriously,” warned Hitler. “Do you think that I will not make good on my promise to annihilate your people?” Continue reading
Mar 2, 2017 Chesed Shel Emeth It is hard to imagine anything more abominable than the desecration of a sacred burial place. And so the vandalism of the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Missouri this past weekend has been truly devastating not only for those in the greater St. Louis area but for all of us as well. With over 170 gravestones disgraced, the defilement of this memorial park not only violates the dignity of the deceased who, according to Jewish tradition are to be treated with the utmost highest form of respect, but it also brings pain and suffering to family members forced to witness such an atrocity. Continue reading
Feb 17, 2017 Inauguration Day "Libi bamizrach v'anochi b'sof ma'arav - My heart is in the east, and I am at the ends of the west." While these words were first written by the Spanish philosopher and poet, Yehudah HaLevi, expressing the familiar Diaspora sentiment of being physically in one place and spiritually in quite another, the line seems newly resonant for many of us this weekend as we feel our attention drawn to events taking place in our nation's capital. Continue reading