A mentor once advised me that a good rabbi needs a strong ego. We deal with much criticism because clergy often become the target of people’s frustration with God, life and the inevitable experiences of pain and suffering.
But I’ve learned that criticism is inevitable. Dealing with it takes effort. The same is true for everyone.
While I am fortunate to serve a loving and supportive community, I, like everyone, face occasional hostility. It could be a sermon, a decision, something said in passing. How do we survive it? How do we deal with it? Here are five responses that work. Continue reading
In my Bible study class yesterday, we came across a long passage of name. Then I received the usual question: Why are there so many genealogies in the Bible? What’s with the bible family tree?
It’s a good question. The Bible teaches us how to live. So why all the lists of names? Why do we need a bible family tree? Continue reading
I have a strange obsession with eulogies. It might be an occupational hazard. I have to deliver at least one eulogy a week.
I’ve also heard hundreds of eulogies from family members and friends. Many inspired me and made me look at my own life differently. And learning from good example eulogies helps sharpen my writing. Continue reading
Mahmoud Abbas, the dictator/president of the Palestinian Authority, wrote his doctoral dissertation blaming Jews for the Holocaust. He gave full public expression to this awful view in a speech last week. It is worth reading because it crystallizes the beliefs of modern antisemitism.
As I just completed the draft of an upcoming book on antisemitism, I read it with great interest. He expressed what I have always suspected many anti-Semites believe but do not say publicly. Continue reading
Funerals can be painful. But they can also bring us comfort and guidance. A Jewish funeral has one core purpose: to comfort the bereaved.
Jewish funeral customs follow a set order. Not all Jews observe all these customs. But most follow at least a few of them. They originate largely in the Bible. Continue reading
Moses and Aaron are the two brothers who lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But they are much more. They are the first set of siblings in the Bible to get along.
Remember Cain and Abel, or Jacob and Esau? Or perhaps you recall when Joseph’s brothers tried to murder him?
The closeness between Moses and Aaron is even more remarkable because Aaron was the older brother. He would have been the natural leader. Yet, Moses is the one chosen by God.
He leads the Israelites out of Egypt and receives the Ten Commandments.
Was Aaron jealous? Continue reading
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