Category Archives for "God"



How To Write a Eulogy: 7 Guidelines

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


Teach Us To Number Our Days: Find Your Heart of Wisdom

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.

A Lesson from Steve Martin

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


The 7 Symbolic Foods of Passover

My confirmation class has excellent attendance. But I suspect the regular Israeli cuisine helps immensely. As much as the content keeps them coming, the food does as well.

Foods of Passover

Foods of Passover

The same is true when it comes to the holiday of Passover. Passover centers around the food. Each of the foods has a profound meaning. Here the seven foods of Passover. 

Matzah: Matzah is unleavened bread. It is unfermented grains. It tastes crunchy rather than smooth. The reason we eat it is the Israelites did not have time to let their bread rise. Pharaoh and his troops were closing in. Continue reading

The Secret of King Solomon’s Bracelet

There are many legends about King Solomon’s bracelet. But the most important part of it was not its mystical power. It was the inscription.

When times were good, he looked at the inscription. When times got tough, he looked at it. When he celebrated, he looked at it. When he mourned, he looked at it.

Somehow, the words on King Solomon’s bracelet always had the right message at the right time. Continue reading

How To Forgive Yourself

Whenever I pick my daughter up from school, I am amazed by the size of her backpack. It is stuffed with books, and by the time she reaches me, it’s fallen off her shoulders.

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I am still mystified about why she has to carry so many books in second grade. Yet, many of us also carry heaven burdens. They may not fall off our shoulders.

But they can weigh us down.

Sometimes we just need to let them go. We need to forgive ourselves. One of the great lessons of the Hebrew Bible is that we are not perfect, and we should never expect to be perfect. Perfection is reserved for God, and God can handle our mistakes.

Letting Go Of Our Heavy Load

We can forget this truth. Sometimes, like my daughter, we think we have to carry it all ourselves. A rabbi from the eighteenth century conveys this lesson with a parable.

A poor man was walking along the road. He carried all his earthly possessions on his back. A wagon wagondriver stopped and offered him a ride to the next town. The poor man declined.

After a few miles, the wagon driver looked back and saw the man sitting there, still carrying the load on his back. The driver approached him again. “Why are you still carrying your load? Put it down in the wagon!” he said.

The pauper replied, “Dear sir, you have been so kind to offer me a ride. I cannot possibly impose upon you to ask you to carry my heavy load as well.”

God gives us a ride, and God can carry our load. That does not mean we have a free pass. It means we are human, and we live with the grace given by a power far greater than ourselves.

When We Fail to Achieve Our Goals

Happy New Year! In the excitement of thinking about goals for the coming year, I decided to take a look at what I had written and resolved at this time last year. My excitement quickly waned.

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A year ago, following Michael Hyatt’s fantastic program, I had written 10 goals for 2014. I achieved only two of them. Is this a failure? Perhaps. Yet, it puts me in good company. And it also reminds us of the real reasons we set goals.  Continue reading

The Strangest Book of the Bible

Tonight begins the Jewish “Festival of Tabernacles.” Known in Hebrew as Sukkot, we spend time in  temporary outdoor dwellings.

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They remind us of the fragility of life our ancestors experienced during their journey across the Sinai Desert.

Vanity, Vanity, All is Vanity! 

The biblical book we read on Sukkot is Ecclesiastes. Tonight we will chant it in my synagogue.

I confess this book has always mystified me. Ecclesiastes seems to contradict other parts of the Bible. Continue reading

How I Became a Wounded Healer

In seminary we read a famous book called The Wounded Healer. Written by Father Henri Nouwen, it was based on an idea of psychologist Carl Jung.

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The idea is that  effective pastors and therapists draw from their own wounds and pain in order to empathize with another. Their own pain gives them a unique window into the feelings of their patient or parishioner.

I was initially dubious of the idea. Every pain or tragedy or illness is unique. We can never enter fully into another’s feelings.

Over time, however, I realized it is not so simple. I realized that behind my initial suspicion was a unhealthy aloofness. Continue reading

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