Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use

Have You Seen a Miracle Today?

miracle of music, hanukkah

In a few days we begin the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Hanukkah celebrates an ancient miracle.With their way of life under attack, a small group of Jews challenged their oppressors. They survived and rededicate the ancient Temple in Jerusalem.

As we light the Hanukkah candles for eight nights, we express gratitude for their victory and survival. We also, however, connect the past to the future.

Daily Miracles

One of the prayers traditionally said on Hanukkah thanks God for “miracles You performed for our ancestors and those You perform today.” Saying that prayer always makes me ask about the miracles of today.

What is happening around us that is extraordinary, inspiring, miraculous? Can we find God in the world today in the same way people did 2000 years ago?

Yes we can. The miracles we discover need not be vast or magical. They can simply express the power and possibility of the human condition.

Each of my next several articles will consider a miracle we can experience every day.

The Soul of Music

The first is music. Whatever we love jazz, country or rock-n-roll, music conveys power and emotion. It can transform our heart and inspire millions. Sometimes is miraculous.

Rabbi David Wolpe pointed this out in a passage he highlights from Vasily Grossman’s novel of World War II, Life and Fate:

“People in camps, people in prisons, people who have escaped from prison, people going to their deaths, know the extraordinary power of music. No one else can experience music in quite the same way. What music resurrects in the soul of a man about to die is neither hope nor thought, but simply the blind, heart-breaking miracle of life itself.”

By Evan Moffic,

Get More from Rabbi Moffic http://bit.ly/U6pA1G

Grow Spiritually. Inspire Yourself. Live a More Meaningful Life.


How 1 Policeman Inspired Millions

faith police officer

A few years ago a popular bump sticker urged us to practice “random acts of kindness and senseless acts of love.” It’s a nice sentiment.

In Judaism, however, acts of kindness are not random and acts of love are not senseless. They are commandments from God. They are part of the moral structure of the universe. They are holy acts with reverberations beyond our imagination.

God is Everywhere

This lesson was taught most powerfully by a 17th century Jewish mystic named Isaac Luria. Soon after the world was formed, Luria taught, sparks of God spread themselves across it. They landed in flowers, trees, waters and human beings.

As a result, everything and everyone we see or touch contains a spark of God. We uncover those sparks, we release their spiritual power, when we follow God’s commandments. When we bless each other through kindness, through words, through service.

We saw this truth in action last week in New York City. It was captured on video by a tourist with a cell phone.

A police officer approached a homeless man on the street. He lowered himself and offered him a pair of all-weather thermal boots. A shoe store loomed in the background.

The police officer, it was later learned, had purchased the boots with his own money. The homeless man, he reported, “smiled from ear to ear” after getting the boots. “It was like you gave him a million dollars,” he said.

A few days later the video was posted on Youtube and became viral.

Why?

What makes the video so popular and inspiring? I think it is the unexpected nature of the act. We don’t assume to see such an act on the mean gritty streets of New York. We don’t expect them from a tough New York Police Officer.

To see it in such a place by such a man surprises us. It makes us think higher of human nature.

Part of the goal of faith is to cultivate those acts of kindness. To help turn random into habitual, to transform senseless into sacred. It does through through what it asks us to do and believe.

Word and Deed

Consider prayer: part of the reason we pray is to experience gratitude. Gratitude helps us recognize that what we have is not ours alone. It urges us not to take things for granted, not to feel entitled, but to share God’s bounty with others.

Now consider belief: a core belief of Judaism, of almost every religion, is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The definition of “neighbor” is just the person that lives next door. It is our fellow human beings. It is the person lying on the street.

We may not share their religion or ethnicity. But we share their humanity. It is that humanity that draws forth our frequent acts of kindness and sacred acts of love.

By Evan Moffic,

Grow Spiritually. Inspire Yourself. Live a More Meaningful Life. Get Lots More from Rabbi Moffic

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10 Quotes That Can Change Your Life

The great champion of motivation and inspiration Zig Ziglar died yesterday. Following is a taste of his wisdom and spirit. (courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor and my highlights of Ziglar books!)

1. Vision
“If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

2. Dealing with Failure
“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”

3. You Get What You Are
“If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”

4. Daily Affirmation
“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

5. Mind Before Body
“If you want to reach a goal, you must ‘see the reaching’ in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.”

6. What Really Matters
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”

7. Delayed Gratification
“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.”

8. Be Positive
“There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic.”

9. Hard Work
“There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”

10. Attitude Matters Most
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”

By Evan Moffic,

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Should You Pray to Win the Lotto?

can you pray to win the lottery?

The $550 million Powerball Lottery  has people lining up in gas stations and conveniences stores across America. It also has a few people turning to the heavens to ask God to bless them with good luck.

Is this type of prayer legitimate? Does God listen to such kinds of requests?

Seeing the Forest Through the Trees

In Judaism, we would generally say no. Prayer is not as much about asking God for things, as it is about asking God for the strength to do the right thing.

Just as mission statements highlight the purpose and values of an organization, prayer proclaims the principles and vision of our faith.It seeks to cultivate in us values like gratitude or service to others that our secular society does not reinforce.
When we come to pray in a church or synagogue, we seek to look at our lives from an elevated perspective, from what philosopher Baruch Spinoza called the point of view of eternity. To use a familiar metaphor, prayer lifts us out of the trees so we can look at the forest.

Emotional Rescue

Prayer also helps us express feelings that everyday words cannot. When I officiate at a funeral, I always notice the mourners during the recitation of the 23rd psalm. As we say the words, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me,” faces turn downward. Tears often begin to flow. The words of prayer evoke emotions that ordinary language cannot.

At its best, prayer can be like listening to an i-pod. An i-pod connects us with an entire digital music library. Prayer connects us with the entire spiritual, emotional and intellectual library of our faith. 

Dancing to God’s Beat

can we pray to win the lotteryWhen we pray with resolve, feeling the words shaping us, we are dancing. We are moving to the words of our God. Do we really need to dance to these words? Can they really make difference in our lives?

Well, as one rabbi put it, “Neither the computer nor the cellular phone has changed the fact of mortality or the want of wisdom.” In an age of high technology, we need to be reminded of what truly matters. Prayer is that reminder.

It reminds us that our lives are measured by holiness. They are not measured by the political points we score.They are not measured by an uptick in the polls. They are not measured by the promise of $550 million. They are measured by the heart and spirit God gave us.

By Evan Moffic

Grow Spiritually. Inspire Yourself. Live a More Meaningful Life.

Get More from Rabbi Moffic   http://bit.ly/U6pA1G

 

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