Editorial & Opinion | Musings

10/23/2013 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

Childhood, wrote George Eliot, is soothed by no memories of outlived sorrow.

One of the pains of youth is that we have not yet aged; we cannot imagine how much we will change, how our memories will reconfigure themselves, that this moment is not forever. As we grow, the accumulation of sorrows carries comfort: we have been sad, or hurt, or disappointed before and discovered that change is the one constant of life. As Solomon’s ring had it, this too shall pass.

10/15/2013 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

After more than 15 years as a pulpit rabbi, perhaps the wisest comment I have seen about synagogue life comes from a monastery. In her lovely memoir, “The Cloister Walk,” about her time in a Benedictine monastery in Minnesota, Kathleen Norris writes:

10/09/2013 | | Musings

The art of living is one of self-creation. The Rabbis of the Talmud teach that when God says in Genesis, “Let us make man,” God is speaking with the royal “we.” But a later chasidic teaching argues that God is speaking to human beings — together we will make you. I will endow you with certain gifts and you must spend your life soul-shaping.

10/02/2013 | | Musings

Everyone decries extremism but it is hard to turn out crowds for moderation. The satiric Czech novelist Jaroslav Hasek once started a political movement called “The Party of Moderate Progress Within the Bounds of the Law.” If you’ve never heard of it, that’s because it never quite picked up steam.

09/25/2013 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

Years ago I attended a black-tie affair where the keynote address was delivered by the late Ambassador Max Kampelman. Not realizing the formality of the occasion, he was dressed somewhat casually. Noting his sartorial miscue, Ambassador Kampelman began his speech with a story about David Ben-Gurion.

09/17/2013 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

Why do we cover our eyes during the Shema? Our tradition teaches that it is to avoid distraction and focus at this central time in prayer. Moreover, the Shema is a prayer about listening, and we can listen more intently when not looking; the limitation of one sense often makes others keener.