Unprepared and Ready

Not long before my old friend Rube (Rabbi Richard Rubinstein, that is) passed away, I had the privilege of visiting him at his home in Sacramento. He was already in bad shape from the cancer that eventually killed him, but his spirits were remarkably fine, so when he happened to recommend a book to me,… Continue reading Unprepared and Ready

“Mistakes were made” and the Day of Atonement

Our chavurah is studying the book of Hebrews together this year and last week, as the High Holy Days were approaching, we came to the section that discusses the ritual of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement: With things so arranged, the cohanim go into the outer tent all the time to discharge their duties;… Continue reading “Mistakes were made” and the Day of Atonement

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