Musings

Get To Work

12/17/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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In 1974, the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote a letter to Eric Hoffer, the great longshoreman-philosopher and author of “The True Believer.” Hoffer had worked hard all his life on the docks of San Francisco and as a migrant farm laborer when younger. Moynihan wrote to him:

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Long View

12/10/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Sometimes distance is our friend. When we press our noses up against the glass of our troubles, they seem immediate and overwhelming. But if we can take the eagle’s-eye view, or the perspective of time, we often find that what preoccupies us now is fleeting. 

Rabbi David Wolpe

In Another’s Shoes

To live truly moral lives, we must have imagination, writes Rabbi David Wolpe.

12/03/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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A childhood friend once attended a play starring the great Zero Mostel. He had the misfortune to be late and Mostel, spotting him trying to sneak in the theater, stopped the performance and asked for the house lights to be turned up. “You — yes you, the one who is late,” he said, pointing to my humiliated friend. “I want you to know what you missed.” Mostel then acted out the entire play to that point by himself, inhabiting all the roles. My friend was embarrassed but also delighted to be the spur to such a tour de force.

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Marvels That Await Us

11/26/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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I am surrounded by books I will never have a chance to read, people I will never get to know and constantly hear about places I will never visit. This is the invariable law of every life. How shall we think of this richness so vastly greater than our time to experience it?

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Torah’s Market Share

11/19/2014
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We read the Torah on Monday and Thursday in the synagogue because in ancient times those were market days. Picture the scene: Competing with the merchants hawking their wares was the voice of someone reading and explaining the stories and laws of the Torah. I imagine the Maggid stationed today in the produce section of Trader’s Joes, telling of Moses’ encounter before Pharaoh, or better, the of delights of the Garden of Eden.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Where Everything Is Illuminated

11/12/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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As king, David has grown satisfied and been blessed. When he sees Batsheba bathing on a roof, he acts as if he is a law unto himself. He summons and sleeps with this woman who belongs to another man. She becomes pregnant, and David cannot induce her patriotic husband, Uriah, to sleep with her when his fellow troops are risking their lives in battle. David arranges to have Uriah killed. It is probably the most cynical act of cruelty in the Bible.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Make Room For Holiness

11/05/2014
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What do four walls and a roof make? A potential for holiness.

A room has special significance in Jewish tradition. Students in Eastern Europe studied in “cheder,” which means room. The holiest site in Jewish history, the kadosh kedoshim, was a room in the Temple. While not disdaining the beauties or wonder of nature, rooms hold much of the wonder and specialness of Judaism.

Your synagogue has rooms where people pray and where they meet. Both can be vessels of kedushah, or holiness. Committees too can do sacred work. We may imagine that a meeting must be mundane, but in that room where funds are allocated for education or tzedakah, or decisions made to enable people to join and pray with the community, holiness lives.

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Need To Give

10/29/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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An old and venerable Jewish joke: Rabbi Cohen answers his phone.

“Hello?” “Hello, is this Rabbi Cohen?” “Yes, it is. “This is the Internal Revenue Service. Do you have a congregant named Samuel P. Schwartz?” “Yes I do.” “Did he in fact donate $25,000 to the synagogue building fund?”

Rabbi David Wolpe

Try A Little Tenderness

10/22/2014
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‘Well,” said my father, smiling at me in the middle of an argument, “I wouldn’t say you are wrong, but you aren’t right.” All of us seek a balance when we criticize others, or at least we should. Here are five tentative rules for offering criticism:

Rabbi David Wolpe

Redemption Song

10/15/2014
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A disciple of the Baal Shem Tov yearned to meet Elijah, herald of redemption. The Baal Shem Tov told him it could happen. All he needed to do was to go to the home of a very poor but pious family that lived in the forest, bring them food and wine for Rosh HaShanah, eat and pray with them, and at the end of the holiday Elijah would appear.

Rabbi David Wolpe
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