I was having a conversation with a student this week where we discussed that Judaism does not ask us to be knowledgeable, or to understand but rather to be wise. “What is the difference?” I asked.

“Knowledge is being aware of what something is, while understanding is being aware of how something works. But I don’t know about wisdom…” the student said.

In Honor of Those Who Have Served Our Country

In honor of Memorial Day and the men and women who have served our country I am sharing an article written by Aaron Rozovsky. Aaron is a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion on the Cincinnati campus. Aaron is a decorated captain (CPT) in the Rhode Island Army National Guard, he has been in the military for more than 10 years, serving in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Afghanistan, and, during his HUC year-in-Israel, as a liaison officer to the IDF.  

Here is what he wrote:

On Grace

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.

A Different Purim Story

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)

Do not use your mask to hide...

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?

Knowledge of How

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.

Stronger together

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: