Author Archives: Rabbi Evan
Author Archives: Rabbi Evan
We all pray. Prayer does not just consist of words, though these prayer quotes are words. We pray with our legs, our arms, and our hearts.
My hope is that these Jewish prayer quotes from help us move closer to God and the best within ourselves.
Prayer Quotes I: God is Closer Than We Imagine Continue reading
When people ask me how Jews pray, I begin with a story. It comes from a great nineteenth-century rabbi.
An old man enters the sanctuary for the first time.
His face is dirty and his clothes are too big. He stands out among the well-dressed crowd.
Then he picks up the prayerbook and opens it. He is, however, holding it upside down.
Nevertheless, he tries to start singing along. His words are mumbled and incorrect. After a while, he gives up trying to keep up with the crowd.
He just lifts up his eyes towards heaven and repeats the same Hebrew word over and over again.
After a while, the other people in the sanctuary start to get annoyed. They point at him. They shake their heads. One of them goes to the rabbi and suggests he ask the man to leave. Continue reading
This month begins the state of Israel’s 70th anniversary. Why does this anniversary matter?
Well, the number 70 frequently recurs in the Bible and Jewish tradition. Moses has 70 elders. Jerusalem has 70 names. 70 years was considered a full life.
The number also spans multiple generations. Israel’s 70th anniversary feels much more significant than 50 or 60. But most importantly, 70 represents success.
A Close Call
Israel almost didn’t make it to her first anniversary. On the announcement of the creation of the state, half a dozen neighboring Arab countries invaded. One percent of Israel’s fragile population was lost during this war for independence.
In the ensuing decades, Israel has faced other wars and terrorism. No other country has had to fight so hard for its survival. Continue reading
A rabbinic mentor of mine loves to tell brides and grooms that his job is “save your marriage before it starts.” I don’t present my role in such dramatic terms, but I do think he is on to something. Judaism has much relationship wisdom.
It starts with recognizing relationships take work. But it’s not just marriage. All important relationships do.
But marriage is a good vehicle to examine relationship wisdom that works. The marriage ceremony conveys this wisdom. Here’s how… Continue reading
Does history repeat itself? Yes, it does. But it’s not because we remember the past. It’s because we forget. A shocking recent survey just affirmed this truth.
22 percent of millennials—and in case you’re wondering, I don’t qualify, barely—have never heard or aren’t sure if they have heard of the Holocaust. Two-thirds had never heard of the death camp of Auschwitz, where millions were slaughtered. This survey was released on Holocaust Memorial Day. Continue reading
About a year ago I was speaking with a successful writer and marketer named Dan. He had grown up in a broken home and dedicated himself to creating a different experience for his children. Though he is not Jewish, he wanted to raise them with Jewish family values.
I asked him what he meant. He replied with a question of his own.
“Why,” he asked,” are Jews so good at keeping families together? There must be some special set of Jewish family values.”
I was taken aback.
As a rabbi, I constantly counsel families going through difficult situations. I’ve worked with couples going through divorce, estrangement, drug addictions, adultery and much more.
My friend’s rosy view of Jewish family values seemed naive. I told him I didn’t think we had anything special to offer. Continue reading
A recent survey suggested that 90 percent of Americans own Bible, but only 20 percent read and study the bible on a regular basis. This suggests to me a discomfort. We think only pastors and rabbis should study the bible.
But the Bible is not just for clergy. It is for everyone. To study the bible is to enrich our lives. Doing so connects us with our past, present and future. “Knowledge,” Rabbi Arnold Wolf once said, “isn’t everything. It is, profoundly, the only thing.”
If we want to study the bible and gain knowledge from it, we can find the time. How do make that time more meaningful and exciting?
Certain verses guide us in life. One of mine, as I pointed out last week, is based on the biblical teaching, “Teach us to number our days… so that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalms 90:10
What does this powerful verse mean? It seems simple on the surface.
Teach us to number our days is God’s way of telling us to make each day count…to find meaning and holiness every day and not take our days for granted. That’s easier said than done.
Recall a great scene from the film LA Story: The weatherman, played by Steve Martin, is delivering his typical forecast. As he throws little yellow magnets on the map, he yells “Sun! Sun! Sun! Sun!” Continue reading
Do you feel vulnerable? Many of us do after the Facebook fiasco.
What is the Facebook fiasco? The company gathered information about us we did not choose to reveal. They sold that information to others. And now they know more about us—our health, our political views, our family status, the kind of food we like— than we imagined.
It’s scary. But I think the Facebook fiasco also illustrates a deeper truth. We are in a period of rapid and extraordinary change: change in the ways we communicate, change in the way work, change in the way we learn, change in the way we experience life.
The change has happened so quickly that we have not really reflected on it. What does it mean for you? Continue reading