A Rabbi's World

10/09/2009 | | Special to the Jewish Week | A Rabbi's World

Henry David Thoreau famously said that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.  I never really understood that line when I first read it many years ago, and as I was growing into maturity, it always seemed to me a bleak assessment of the human condition.  ”Quiet desperation” seemed to negate the very possibility of living a meaningful if not joyous life.  In my youth, hearing those words made me feel distant at best from what Thoreau was trying to say.

10/16/2009 | | Special to the Jewish Week | A Rabbi's World

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry that cited my second day Rosh Hashanah sermon.  It defended President Obama from what I consider ill-advised attacks against him, caustic and often personal attacks not grounded in any reality.  As I see it, he’s a relatively untested politician in a terribly difficult job in a ridiculously difficult time, doing the best he can.  The jury is out on him, and time alone will tell.  (Yes, Mr. Safire a”h, too many clichés, but they are all perfectly appropriate!).

10/23/2009 | | Special to the Jewish Week | A Rabbi's World

This coming Shabbat, in synagogues around the world, the story of Noah will be read and discussed, as it has been for thousands of years.

The great medieval exegete Rashi famously cited a timeless discussion in the Talmud about just how virtuous Noah really was.  One sage said that it mattered not a whit what generation Noah was born in- he would have stood out as a great man regardless of time and place.  Another differed, and said that had Noah been born, say, in the generation of Abraham, he would not have been seen as exceptional.

10/30/2009 | | Special to the Jewish Week | A Rabbi's World

The title of this blog entry is an intentional riff on the charming and wonderful 

11/06/2009 | | Special to the Jewish Week | A Rabbi's World

I have a friend who’s a plasma physicist.  He’s brilliant- really brilliant- and divides much of his time between the finer points of cold fusion and developing alternative energy sources (may he only succeed!).

When we first met about thirty years ago, this friend, who is Jewish, wasn’t all that into synagogue.  He famously commented to my wife and me that coming to synagogue every Shabbat was sort of like going to the same play every week… same script, same actors, same ending.  Groundhog Day for Jews.

11/16/2009 | | Special to the Jewish Week | A Rabbi's World

Did you ever have one of those days where you expect Rod Serling to step out from behind a building while you stand frozen in place and say something like “Picture, if you will, a man…”

I’ve had one of those days, and it’s not over yet.  And I’m trying to figure out whether there’s some larger meaning to it.