The Bible commands us to “afflict our souls” on Yom Kippur as part of a Day of Turning back towards God. Our tradition generally makes a place for physical pleasures because God created a good world that we are commanded to enjoy. Once a year we deny ourselves those pleasures and focus entirely on our … Continue reading Practices for Yom Kippur
I have to remind myself often of what I cannot do. I cannot change Ismaili Nasrallah, the murderous head of Hezbollah. Much as I would like him to realize how much more he hurts his own people, I cannot change his heart and mind. I cannot heal the sick. I have watched friends and family … Continue reading What Does God Ask of Us?
I remember exactly what I was doing on Sept 11, 2001. At 9am that morning I had a meeting scheduled with a couple to discuss their upcoming baby naming. We were reviewing the details of the ceremony, which only takes a few moments. Then we began to discuss the sacred nature of the transition from … Continue reading 5 Years Later
This is the time of year to remember. Rosh Hashanah is called Yom Zikaron, the day of remembrance because the great mitzvah of Rosh Hashanah is memory. Torah knows how easy it is to forget. This is why we wear a tallit – in order to remember that Hashem brought us out of the land … Continue reading The Day of Remembrance
The Shofar may be the least musical instrument invented. It has a shrill piercing sound, effective for calling troops to order, but not particularly musical. It is discordant rather than pleasant, startling rather than relaxing. Generally, when I listen to music I do so to unwind. The Shofar is much more about getting me to … Continue reading Creative Destruction