The following story was shared with me by Rabbi David Wolpe:
I have heard the same story twice in one week, so I saw it as a sign to share:
A person is going 90 mph in a 60 mph zone. The cop pulls the person over. If the cop gives a ticket, that is justice. If the cop gives a warning, that is mercy. If the cop gives you a crispy crème doughnut that is grace.
This past Wednesday I had scheduled my whole day around the idea of a terrible storm and then no storm was forthcoming. This made me think of a teaching from Rabbi Hillel in Pirkei avot, Ethics of our Fathers, that says. "Do not be certain of yourself until the day of your death".
Where do we find God? Solomon Ibn Gabirol, an 11th century Jewish poet and philosopher from Spain, offers an answer from his understanding of the Barechu prayer:
As this past week was Purim I wanted to share one of my favorite Purim stories from the Talmud. This is the story as told from myjewishlearning.com:
"Rabbah and R. Zeira got together for Purim Seudah (the feast on the afternoon of Purim). They got very drunk, and Rabbah got up and cut R. Zeira's throat (literally, Rabbah butchered him). The next day, Rabbah prayed on R. Zeira's behalf and brought him back to life. A year later, Rabbah asked, "Would you like to have Purim Seudah with me again this year?" R. Zeira replied, "One cannot count on a miracle every time." (Megillah 7b)
Purim is a holiday of costumes and masks. Masks are an interesting item. They can help us express ourselves or hide who we are from the world. Either way they are a conduit for communicating with the outside world. Masks can allow us to be forgotten or can leave an indelible mark on those who view them. We wear masks all the time. Not just physical ones but spiritual ones as well. What is it your "masks" are communicating to the outside world? Are you hiding or leaving your mark?
For the past few weeks on Sunday morning I have been working with the kids on active listening. I have asked them to do a special exercise whenever we get to the Shemah. I ask the kids to pair off. I have one child be the talker and the other the listener. The listener is not allowed to say anything in response to the talker. After a minute I have them switch.
This past week I was in Maryland for a training called the Brickner Fellowship. The Brickner Fellowship is a collection of clergy who apply and come together to learn how to bring social justice planning and programming to our communities. I learned a lot this week and look forward to sharing the many conversations and sessions I had with you over the coming months and years. For now I would like to share with you the final teaching of the weekend from the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 4:
What makes a person's life meaningful? Is it the acquisition of objects? Or is a meaningful life found in things like getting married, having children, getting a good job and buying a house? The answer is yes, but only if one criterion is met in achieving these things. I propose that this criterion is found in looking forward in time and answering a simple question: Did I take advantage of these moments to understand and experience them as sacred opportunities when they were presented to me?
With Biennial 2017 a recent memory and Biennial 2019 two years away (December 11-15, 2019 to be exact). I thought it appropriate to share some of the great quotes from this past year's Biennial experience that our delegation walked away with...