Author Archives: Rabbi Evan
Author Archives: Rabbi Evan
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
One of the most eloquent traditions of the Jewish Sabbath is blessing children.
On Friday evening before dinner, parents will bring their children close, put their hands on their heads, and whisper a blessing in their ears.
The customary blessing for boys includes the hope that they “are like Ephraim and Menasche.” Ephraim and Menasche were the two sons of Joseph and his Egyptian wife.
Their grandfather Jacob gave them a special blessing before he died. Aside from this appearance, they do not play major roles in the Biblical narrative. They just appear in the Jewish Sabbath blessings.
It seems strange, therefore, that the rabbis chose to use Ephraim and Menasche as the role models for young boys. Continue reading
A Jewish legend tells of a rabbi and a soap maker. They were walking together and talking about their favorite biblical verses.
The soap maker turned to the rabbi asked, “Rabbi, we’ve had religion for so long. But everywhere you look you see war, famines, anger and hatred. It seems to me religion hasn’t helped the world at all. What good is it?
” The rabbi paused. He thought for a moment. Then he said, “Good question. But help me understand. Do you see those children playing over there?” Continue reading