AISH Wisdom: Stop Saying It Wrong!

If it could be said that I am considered a ”writer,” then I must address what many have as a pet-peeve and what I have as a tool to help my fellow Jews.

A Jewish Exploration of Halloween

In 2010, I gave a sermon about the complexities Jewish Americans face each year on October 31st. After my sermon, I was approached by two different congregants. The first applauded me for being the first rabbi to get up and say that the celebration of Halloween by Jews was wrong, though I said no such thing. The second hugged me because she had been battling this dilemma for quite some time and now was happy her rabbi had permitted her kids to go trick or treating. Again, I made no such claim. At that point, it was clear to me that Halloween is an issue for Jewish Americans. I realized the need for some deeper research into Halloween, its history, and how Judaism should approach this common secular practice.

The Choices We Make

We have so many choices to make in our lives. This is both a blessing and a curse. Personally, I was able to choose the college I wanted to attend, the country where I wanted to study abroad, the city I wanted to live in after graduation, the profession I wanted to pursue. When I was ordained I was able to take the job that was the best fit regardless of the location. In my personal life I can choose to date or not to date, I can choose whether or not to get married and if I want to have children. I can choose to be vegan or vegetarian, to eat only organic or only unprocessed foods that are not GMO. At the grocery store there are endless options for everything I want to buy from toothpaste to shampoo to nut mixes. We are very lucky to have all of these choices, but they could drive a person crazy.

The UnOfficial Mourner

We all mourn in different ways and for all different types of people. Our tradition does not limit our ability to mourn, rather encourages us all to find ways to deal with death, how we need to deal with death. And for each of us and with each loss, we do not need an agenda or reason to cry. We should not need to explain ourselves. Mourning is as controllable as the death itself and all are deserving of the time to heal.

The Blessings and Curses of Instant Communication

Our constant access to the world through our new technologies has its costs. You know your life is different today than it was only a few years ago: 1) if you have a list of 20 phone numbers to reach five people; 2) if you struggle to stay in touch with any family members who do not have an email address; 3) if you use your phone to call your family to dinner and the text comes back, “what’s for dinner?” 4) if your feeling of accomplishment is measured in emails deleted; 5) if you are waiting in line at the grocery store and are impatient because you left your smartphone in the car; 6) if you wake up at 2am to go to the bathroom and check your E-mail on your way back to bed.

High Holiday Sermons, In One Place

We asked around to some of our favorite rabbis in the Twin Cities to see if they’d be willing to let us publish one of their sermons from the High Holidays 5774. We got a resounding “Yes” from those that have so far replied.