Friday, 29 June 2012 12:54


Written by riverton mussar


“"All of Israel is responsible for one another."” —Shavuot 39a

“Rabbi Eliezer says: "Let other people’s dignity be as precious to you as
your own”." —Pirkei Avot 2:15

Rabbi Akiva would say, "Human beings are beloved because they were created in the image of God. It is an even greater love that this was made know to humanity, as it says, 'and in the image of God were people created.'" -Pirkei Avot 3:14

"If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?" — Rumi

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." — Albert Einstein

"In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you." — Leo Tolstoy

"Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it." — Andy Rooney

"Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others." — Susan Sontag

"You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down." — Charles Chaplin

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation,  because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." — John Wooden

Friday, 29 June 2012 10:51

haze in the olam

Written by rebbetzin malkah

art-smogThe books of Martin Buber, and especially his seminal work "I-and-Thou", allow us, it seems to me, to distinguish with better precision between Olam Haze and Olam Haba, using criteria which are meaningful to the individual and communal life of any educated reader, be (s)he Christian or Jew, religious or secular or even an agnostic.

In his "I-and-Thou", Buber distinguishes between two types of human existence which are characterised by two kinds of relationship: "I-Thou" and "I-It". Taking exception to the way Buber's originally German book was translated to Hebrew, I propose that what he calls "it" is what is in Biblical and Modern Hebrew "Ze" to denote "that", and denotes a form of distancing and alienation. From the alienated relationship between self and other or self and environment grows an alienated world. It is possible to point at different types of alienation, and they seem to multiply. Buber was concerned both with alienation between people and the alienation between humans and God, which is, of course, the alienation that concerned the author of Genesis and our sages of blessed memory.

The most crucial question is perhaps the amount of alienation in inter-human relation and the recognition of each person as a brother and a "thou". (Many traditional societies which might have had an extremely strong inner solidarity probably did not recognize the native of the next village or next valley as a human identical to themselves and certainly not the native of another continent with a different skin color). The real test, in my opinion, to the emergence from the "Olam Haze" state of alienation to "Olam Haba"(world to come) is that each human being receives any other one as "welcome".  —Dr. Yitzhak I. Hayutman [1] 

Friday, 29 June 2012 10:26

mindful orbiting

Written by rebbetzin malkah

art-solarsystemThe Hebrew for awareness is mudaut. Living on the third rock from the sun, we are very aware what would happen if we were closer to the sun or further away.  Life is not supported on the planets on either side of us and neither is our conspicuous placement coincidental; rather, it is perfect, intentional and life-giving. How we tune our awareness beyond this simple knowledge can be life-giving as well.

Friday, 29 June 2012 10:01

routine awareness

Written by rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-tefillinThe phrase, “creatures of habit,” is not infrequently used to describe us human beings. This is not surprising given our social/cultural norms and natural makeup. Religious ritual is often seen as a reflection of our habitual nature.

Sunday, 24 June 2012 10:56

generosity as stewardship

Written by rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-mudprintOne of my favorite jokes is a story of a group of scientists who, convinced that they don’t need God anymore, proceed to attempt to prove it by making a human being out of the dirt (like he made the first). They do quite well and God decides to let them know how nice of a job they did but, to be fair, if they really wanted to prove they didn’t need him anymore they should get their own dirt!

Sunday, 10 June 2012 08:15

enthusiasm and endurance

Written by rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-runnersI love to run. Three years of cross country in high school planted that love firmly in my bones. For any sport, enthusiasm plays a big role.

Friday, 08 June 2012 13:37

keeping it simple

Written by rabbi michael schiffman

art-newstruckMy 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.

Sunday, 03 June 2012 13:29

simplicity gone too far

Written by rebbetzin malkah

art-simplecoffeeRabbi 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!"

Sunday, 03 June 2012 11:43

simple riches

Written by rebbetzin malkah

art-simpletreeWho is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot.  --Avot 4:1

Friday, 01 June 2012 15:03

a path to non-hoarding

Written by rebbetzin malkah

art-luggageI 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. 

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