During the month of Elul and throughout the Days of Awe, our tradition recommends reading Psalm 27 twice each day. In this Psalm, David stirs us up to hope, courage, bold confidence in HaShem, and one other trait that is especially relevant for the High Holy Days, and for the middah of simplicity as well. “One thing,” says David, “have I asked of Hashem, and that will I seek: that I may dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life” (Ps. 27:4a).
My dad was a blue-collar worker. Having a handicap, he was not able to pursue the academic dreams he had as a young man. He delivered newspapers for the New York Post. It was a good, job, and he provided well for our family. Once, he told me that he and my mother went to a party where there was someone else who did the same work as my father. My mom overheard the man saying he was a "circulation engineer." My parents laughed because the guy delivered newspapers for a living.
Rabbi Salanter once noticed that a fancy restaurant was charging a huge price for a cup of coffee. He approached the owner and asked why the coffee was so expensive. After all, some hot water, a few coffee beans and a spoonful of sugar could not amount to more than a few cents.
The owner replied: "It is correct that for a few cents you could have coffee in your own home. But here in the restaurant, we provide exquisite decor, soft background music, professional waiters, and the finest china to serve your cup of coffee."
Rabbi Salanter's face lit up. "Oh, thank you very much! I now understand the blessing of Shehakol -- 'All was created by His word' -- which we recite before drinking water. You see, until now, when I recited this blessing, I had in mind only that I am thanking the Creator for the water that He created. Now I understand the blessing much better. 'All' includes not merely the water, but also the fresh air that we breathe while drinking the water, the beautiful world around us, the music of the birds that entertain us and exalt our spirits, each with its different voice, the charming flowers with their splendid colors and marvelous hues, the fresh breeze -- for all this we have to thank God when drinking our water!"
I can recall our second trip to Israel as a family, when our three children were 8, 6, and 6 respectively. We rented an apartment in Yemin Moshe for a week and soaked in Jerusalem like tenants.
Then they brought him children so he could place his hands upon them and pray, but his talmidim reprimanded them. Yeshua said, “Permit the children and do not withhold them from coming to me, because theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” He placed his hands upon them, and he passed on from there. --Matthew 19:13-15, DHE
Around our home, Jewish holidays are elaborate affairs. While I tend to be focused on the ritual and teaching aspects of the holidays, I observe that each time they come around my wife turns into a full-time caterer.
During my senior year of high school, in preparation for my freshman year at the Berklee College of Music, I decided it was going to be very important for me to appreciate more complicated music.