Can you sleep at night? There is so much trouble in the world. Violence, wars large and small, natural disasters, disease. We all personally know many who are suffering at this very moment.
I was always taught of the advantage of simplicity in language. My favorite author during my adolescence was Ernest Hemingway, and I remember reading comments that he made criticizing those who used multi-syllable words when shorter words would suffice.
I often find myself disagreeing with the phrase, "It's just a footnote in history". I have found some of the most interesting and important facts buried, unseen by most people, in the footnotes of the books I read.
Can you sleep at night? There is so much trouble in the world. Violence, wars large and small, natural disasters, disease. We all personally know many who are suffering at this very moment. Some are friends and acquaintances living in plain sight. Others are individuals in the media, people whose pain we see portrayed daily on the evening news.
The two old men couldn't have been more different from each other. Yet they both taught me the identical life lesson.
I live on the eastern seaboard of the United States, which was hit by a severe snowstorm last week. Most people find snowfall a nuisance. But for me, a snowfall is a chance to reflect on one of the Almighty's greatest wonders, the little snowflake.
They called him a horse thief. That was the worst possible epithet that one could hurl at a young man in the early 19th-century shtetl, or village, of Czernovitz. Back then, a horse was a very necessary item, and many of the townspeople spent all of their hard-earned savings to procure one. Losing one's horse often meant losing one's livelihood.
It was the last session of the course in which I was utilizing the book of Genesis as a text for the study of leadership. Since it was the final session, I decided that I would structure the discussion in a very different manner.
There is a statement in Jewish mystical literature to the effect that the end of every story is already implicit in its beginning, and that at least some elements of the story's beginning endure until its end.
I was very embarrassed by her sharp rebuke. But looking back, I realize that the lesson I learned from her brief criticism was more valuable than most of my other training experiences.
This has got to be one of the oldest "rabbi" jokes in the entire repertoire of American Jewish humor. It tells us of the young rabbi, fresh from rabbinical school, who addresses his first several sermons to his new congregation on the varied subjects of meticulous Sabbath observance, refraining from malicious gossip, honesty in business, and the avoidance of inappropriately familiar behavior with other men's wives.
I have been blessed with many fine teachers. She was one of the best.
It was Carol who initiated the most fascinating interchange that evening. It was the 11th session of our class, dedicated to studying the topic of leadership by examining the text of the book of Genesis. It was also the next to last class session, so that it was only natural that there was already an atmosphere of sadness in the room.
One thought, and one thought only, preoccupied me that evening while I was in the car on the way to the weekly session of the class I was leading on the subject of basic Jewish concepts in the book of Genesis. I knew that this was the next to last class in the series and that soon I would have to be saying goodbye to Leon, Richard, and Simon. I wondered whether they too were similarly preoccupied, anticipating that the class would soon be over.
The happiest picture that I can imagine portrays an entire family sitting around the dinner table. One of the saddest pictures is of that same family with one empty seat, with one family member missing.
Wisdom is the rarest of all important human qualities. Observers of the contemporary state of affairs often remark that wisdom, which is especially necessary in this day and age, is now particularly lacking.
"There are two kinds of people." I am sure that you all have heard one variation or another of that theme.
My many years of teaching experience have taught me many lessons. One is that when students are encouraged to express their own ideas, they inevitably do so. Moreover, they do so with great creativity and originality. The class that I had been leading on the subject of leadership, drawing upon the text of the book of Genesis, was no different.
Once again, my three eager disciples were already seated when I entered the room and were engaged in a raucous discussion.
It is a common scene in the United States at this time of year. The shopping malls, television commercials, and all public venues are transformed visually. As December 25 approaches, we see the evidence that we do indeed live in a predominantly Christian country. Images of Santa Claus and his reindeers, evergreen trees with dazzling decorations, crucifixes illuminated by bright lights, and depictions of the Nativity are everywhere and are inescapable. The sounds of the songs of the season fill the air.