Honor your neighbor

The middah* of honor is an essential part of “Love your neighbor as yourself,” which in turn is essential to the command to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and substance. If we don’t honor the people around us, can we really claim to honor the God who made them? Honor… Continue reading Honor your neighbor

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Ears to Hear

In my mussar work for the coming year, I'm going to focus on the Shema. (Mussar is a Jewish spiritual path that emphasizes ethical transformation. Check out rivertonmussar.org.) The first ethical or character trait that we're working on is humility, so I'm thinking about how humility relates to the Shema, and I decide that Listen… Continue reading Ears to Hear

Non-theoretical truth

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves [and] admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. From the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous   When truth encounters the data of our lives, it gives rise to confession. Truth itself can be pretty abstract, an… Continue reading Non-theoretical truth

Silence, Shofars, and Elul

When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for what seemed like half an hour (Rev. 8:1, CJB). This week, our Mussar group is working on the virtue of silence (see http://www.rivertonmussar.org), but silence is the last thing you’d expect in heaven. Heaven's the scene of unending, and loud, worship and… Continue reading Silence, Shofars, and Elul

the Hineni hint

We’re in the middle of seven haftarot of consolation, seven readings from Isaiah that take us from Tisha B’Av to Rosh Hashanah. The haftarah for this week is Isaiah 51:12–52:12 and the haftarah for next week is Isaiah 54:1–10, so it’s pretty obvious that we’re going to skip right over Isaiah 53 (which begins at… Continue reading the Hineni hint

Focus on one thing

During the month of Elul, Jewish tradition recommends that your take some time each day for cheshbon ha-nefesh, or taking an account of the soul. All the month of Elul before eating and sleeping let every man sit and look into his soul, and search his deeds, that he may make confession. (S.Y. Agnon, Days… Continue reading Focus on one thing