During the first few months, when Barbara and I first began attending Beit HaShofar, I was told by a very smart congregant that mules and donkeys were very intelligent. I poopooed them, emphasizing the intelligence of horses. Well … I was wrong.
Travel always provides lots of opportunities for practicing the middot—standing in a TSA security line is ideal for developing patience; staying strapped into a narrow seat on a crowded plane is perfect for equanimity; and there are boundless opportunities for humility. On my latest trip I had a chance to learn about the middah of generosity.
I am increasingly aware that time is one of the most valuable things in my life. There is so much to do and so little time, as the saying goes. My chevruta and I have often discussed the role of time in the middah of generosity.
I find myself increasingly able to tune out the world around me. I find I don’t always need a quiet space to think clearly, pray, or meditate. In fact, I meditate quite often on long bus trips.
Over the few years of my life, I have encountered many people who were enthusiastic over one thing or another. Sometimes they seemed too excited over whatever it was than I thought was necessary for that thing.
It’s hard to imagine a more enthusiastic response to God than the one commanded in the Shema: “You shall love Hashem your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Young children tend to be the most enthusiastic people…ever. With regards to energy, they are also quite well off. Whether the energy fuels the enthusiasm or vice-versa is hard to tell but one thing is for sure, the two are inseparable. A part of it has to do with the fact that life is significantly “newer” for children than adults.
Now Haman thought in his heart, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” (Es. 6:6)
Learning the middah of honor during the week of Purim is a great fit, because the book of Esther is all about honor—its attractions, its perils, and, in the end, its proper use.
When I was a young rabbi, my time was consumed by people who were constantly in a state of anger, frustration, and offense. I was not usually the cause of it, but they contacted me to express their emotions over whatever it was that upset them.