Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use

Proof of the Power of Prayer

power of prayer holidays

Something magical happens in our home on Friday night. The bustle of the week stops. The noise of dinner time fades away. The iPad powers down (at least for a while).

What changes everything, however, is the moment we put our hands on our children and say a blessing over them. The blessing is short, personal, and changes every week. Its impact, however, is almost always the same: a smile, a hug, and a relaxed look of joy.

It’s not the words themselves that are magical. It’s words together with the mood and the people.

What Prayer Does

The old saying goes “A family that prays together stays together.” While experience and reflection make that statement seem simplistic for me, the truth is that prayer creates a unique feeling of kinship and joy.

It helps children feel connected and secure, and it reminds adults that there is more to life than constant activity. Prayer puts life in perspective.

Pray for Ourselves

Some might object that the purpose of prayer is not to make us feel better. It is to speak to God. This view of prayer is far too limiting.

In fact, the Hebrew word li-hit-palel means “to pray,” and it falls into the category of what linguists called “reflexive verbs.” That means that the direct object of the verb “to pray” is ourselves. When we pray, we are shaping ourselves.

In this time of holiday celebration, let us remember the power of prayer. It’s not just something we do in a church or synagogue. It’s something we can do in our homes, with our family and friends, and with all those we love.

By Evan Moffic,

GET A FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It, and I Want To Be a Blessing

mayan end of the world jewish

Today we reach the last day of the ancient Mayan calendar. This fact has prompted to predict the end of the world.

These types of predictions are nothing new to people of faith. While we may not agree with them, we can certainly make use of them.

They remind us to ask ourselves the question: If we knew we would not be here tomorrow, how would we live today?  

Be a Blessing

The answer I often turn to is captured in the words traditionally said in Judaism after a loved one dies. Zichrono l’vracha, “May his memory be a blessing.”

These words convey the purpose of a well-lived life. That those who come after you, those who remember you, look to your life as a blessing, a benediction, and an inspiration.

Being a blessing means that you have touched the lives of those you knew, and that you have helped them to do the same for others.

Today

To be a blessing is not something we should contemplate only if the end of the world is approaching. It is not something we should think of only when a loved ones. Rather, our true task is to be a blessing, today and every day.

By Evan Moffic,

GET A FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS. http://bit.ly/U6pA1G

How To End Gun Violence: A Lesson from Jewish History

Religion and gun violence

The horrific school shooting in Connecticut has reignited a debate on gun control. Judaism does not have a particular policy prescription or political view. What we do have is an insightful story of cultural transformation.

Sword Fights on the Sabbath

It emerged in a debate 2000 years ago over a seemingly minute question. The question was whether or not individuals can wear a sword on the sabbath.

Those who permitted it argued that wearing a sword is like wearing a clothing accessory today. It is an ornament, a symbol of honor and dignity.

Other rabbis challenged this view. A sword is not merely an ornament, they argued. It is a symbol of warfare. Such symbol of war undermines the spirit of holiness and peace of Shabbat.

The pro-sword group won this round of the debate.

A New Debate

Another group of rabbis, however, revisited it 300 years later. They returned to the question of whether a sword could really be considered a symbol of honor and dignity. “Where’s the proof?”  they asked.

In response, one rabbi cited a verse from the Book of Psalms: “Gird your sword upon your side, O mighty one, in your splendor and glory.” (Psalms 45:4) This verse proves that the Bible considers idea the sword an ornamental symbol of “splendor and glory.”

His opponents’ response shows us a stunning transformation in Jewish culture. The “sword of splendor and glory,” they argued, does not refer to an actual physical sword. Rather, it refers to the word of God. A sword symbolizes the power and strengthen of God’s teachings.

The Book and the Sword

Isn’t this a bit of a stretch? How can one say that a sword really means God’s word? The reason lies in a profound story of history.

During the 300 years between the two debates, the Jewish people underwent a transformation. A society where violence and warfare was common became one sustained by the community and study. New challenges had demanded a new response.

No longer was carrying a sword necessary, wise or symbolic of “glory and splendor.” Rather, protecting a culture and way of life depended on studying and internalizing God’s word. That was the source of true strength. 

A Changing America

Perhaps America is undergoing a similar transformation. The time when the Second Amendment was written was one marked by constant violence and warfare. It served to protect our emerging nation from its many external enemies.

Maintaining our society today rests on much more than firearms. It rests on the ability to teach and sustain respect, compassion and the freedom to learn and live without fear.

We need to learn that physical resources are not our only source of strength. We also need spiritual sensitivity, educational access and moral depth. We need the strength to grow and address the needs and challenges of today.

By Evan Moffic,

GET A FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS. http://bit.ly/U6pA1G

Is It OK To Tell Your Children They Are Safe?

telling kids they are safe

The Bible’s most oft-repeated words are “Do not fear.” Yet, in the wake of the horror in Connecticut, how can we not?

Five-and six-year old children were brutally murdered in what most thought was a safe and innocent place. Is it possible now to live without some measure of fear?

A Brave New World

This debate pervaded several sessions I led with parents and grandparents in my community this week. Often the discussion revolved around how to talk to children.

Is it okay to tell them they are safe? How do we protect them without misleading them?

As a parent of young children and as a rabbi, I struggled with this issue and benefitted from the wisdom and experiences I heard. Here are some of the ideas that resonated:

1.  Parents need to be the key communicators: Children have a unique relationship with their parents. Hearing the news first from friends or teachers or even grandparents is not ideal. Parents are usualy most attuned to their children’s feelings, and can present what happened and correct misimpressions in a way no one else can.

2. Remember to focus on the kids, not just yourself: We are all shaken up and devastated by what happened. We probably need to process our feelings and will deal with them for a while.

While some children share our feelings, they may get over it much faster. Kids’ primary focus is themselves, and as one Harvard psychologist pointed out, they may quickly move on to something that affects them more directlyl. That’s okay.

3. Honor their needs: While adults may understand and appreciate all the risks we face in life every day, children’s needs are dofferent. They need to feel a degree of safety that allows them to learn and function and grow. We need to remind ourselves and our children that acts of violence on this scale are exceedingly rare.

4. Talk about mental health: This is a hard one, especially for kids. We adults may even find it difficult and uncomfortable to talk about it. But we must.

The more we can talk about and recognize that some people have problems that aren’t physical but can still be treated, the more dignified and humane a society we will become.

5. Do not let fear get in the way of life: The Bible’s repeated injunction of “Do not fear” reminds us of how old and powerful fear can be. Sometimes it is a useful emotion. For example, we need to fear oncoming cars when we are crossing at the street.

At the same time, fear can be debilitating and destructive. Too often fear becomes the acronym I once heard: False Expectations AppearingReal.

We need to be pragmatic and protective of the most vulnerable members of our society. Yet, we also need the courage to live.

Let us take guidance from the wise words of the eighteenth-century Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, “The whole world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important part is not to be afraid.” 

By Evan Moffic,

Get Inspired. Make Better Decisions. Live With Fewer Regrets.

Get More from Rabbi Moffic, including A FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS

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