Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use

God’s Tears Are Our Own: How To Respond to the Horror of the School Shooting in Connecticut

Franz Kafka tells the story of a little girl who was late arriving home one day. Her mother asked her where she was. The girl said that she saw her friend Ruthie on her way home, and Ruthie’s doll had broken.

“Did you help her fix it?” her mother asked. “No,” the girl replied, “I don’t know how to fix it. I stopped to help her cry.”

Shock

As we hear the news about the horrific school shooting in Connecticut, we can sympathize with Kafka’s little girl. We do not know how to fix, or even explain, the evil that causes a person to shoot innocent young children. We stand in shock, in pain, in bewildernment.

We turn to one another and ask “What can we do? How can we bring God’s healing presence into this moment?”

Collecting the Pieces

Perhaps we can take some guidance from the words of the 18th century Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. He once saw a man whose house had burnt down. The man had been crying terribly about his losses.

As he began looking through the rubble, he found bits and pieces of wood and metal to start rebuilding. One by one he made a pile of pieces.

Rabbi Nathan said, “See how he is collecting pieces to rebuild. Even when we think there is no hope, we are already collecting pieces to rebuild.”

It will take a long time to collect the pieces we need to rebuild. With open hearts and ready hands, we need to start now.

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

http://bit.ly/U6pA1G

The Spiritual Wisdom of the Beatles

A favorite song to accompany brides down the wedding aisle is the Beatles’ “In My Life.” It’s a song about the past meeting the present. It’s a song about how the singer has been formed by all his past experiences in life.

Consider the lyrics: “There are places I remember all my life, though some have changed. Some forever, not for better. Some have gone, and some remain. All these places had their moments. With lovers and friends, I still can recall. Some our dead and some are living. In my life, I’ve loved them all.”

The Journey of Love

Of course, the point of the song is that all those experiences pale in comparison to the feeling of love he has now. Yet, part of the beauty and attraction of the song for many is the recognition that we are the result of our experiences in life. They shape us. They never leave.

As Faulkner put it, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Our lives are journeys shaped by the roads we have taken.

The Journey of Faith

Now in the Beatles song, the goal, the end point of the journey, is love of a particular person. For people of faith, the goal of the journey is a life of growth, of wisdom, of love of knowledge, truth and humanity. Ultimately, the goal is to learn and live by God’s ways, which, as the prophet Micah put it, are “to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy god.”

This journey can be difficult. Like the ancient Israelites, we have to wander for many many years. And the longer we wander, the more we realize how far we still have to go.

This notion is captured in the recollection Rabbi Israel Salanter, one of the great rabbis of the nineteenth century: “When I was young,” he said, “I wanted to change the world. I tried, but the world did not change. So I tried to change my town, but my town did not change. Then I turned to my family, but my family did not change. Then I realized: first I must change myself: and I am still trying.”

So are we all.

By Evan Moffic

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

10 Life Lessons from Lincoln


I am no film critic, but Daniel Day Lewis’s mastery of Abraham Lincoln inspired me deeply. He captured a man filled not only with political skill and vision, but with a deep spirituality and understanding of the human condition.

In every book I read or film I see, I try to find sparks of spiritual wisdom. Lincoln provides them in spades. Here are my top ten:

1. Courage under fire: Lincoln faced relentless criticism from his opponents and those within his own party. He stayed attuned to his North Star, engaging with critics without losing his vision.

2. Compassion at all times: The film is filled with scenes of Lincoln reaching out to those who disagree with him, speaking to them with empathy and kindness.

3. Patience: Lincoln did not achieve all his objectives at one time. He kept his goal in mind, and each decision and action pointed to his final goal.

4. Resolve: Even with compassion and patience, Lincoln never gave up on his achieving the end of slavery. It would have been much easier settle for less, especially when his advisors suggested he do so. Like the greatest leaders in history, he did not.

5. The Power of Story: Lincoln tells stories throughout the film. At first, they seem unconnected to the issue at hand. Yet, by the time he finishes them, we see the wisdom they carry. Stories inspire in a way facts and figures cannot.

6. Humility: Lincoln did not let his position get in the way of working in the trenches. His objective was so important to him that he did what he needed to do without suggesting it was somehow beneath him.

7. Communication: Good ideas and goals left unexpressed mean little. The ability to communicate them, as Lincoln did so eloquently, makes all the difference.

8. Remember your ultimate purpose: One of the film’s most moving scenes is when General Ulysses S. Grant receives the defeated General Robert E. Lee with great dignity. The Union’s objective was not to humiliate the South, but to restore the Union.

9. Use power for the good, not for ourselves: The film makes much of the public popularity Lincoln enjoyed. He did not use that for selfish ends. He used it to end slavery and preserve the union. Wherever we are in life, we need to use the power we have for purposes larger than ourselves.

10. Find ultimate peace with ourselves and one another: The film’s closing scene shows Lincoln delivering his Second Inaugural Addresses, one of the great speeches in human history. He says those magnificent lines that defined his political and spiritual outlook, and which can guide us still:

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right,  let us strive on to finish the work we are in;

to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

By Evan Moffic,
Get Inspired. Make Better Decisions. Live With Fewer Regrets.
Get More from Rabbi Moffic http://bit.ly/U6pA1G

What Everybody Ought to Know About Hanukkah

everything you need to know about hanukkah

1. Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas: Hanukkah and Christmas both occur near the winter solstice. They both feature light and gift-giving.

Yet, they differ in their relative importance and religious messages. Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of Jewish survival in the face of foreign pressure. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. Hanukkah is relatively minor holiday in Judaism. Christmas is highly significant for Christians of all denominations.

2. There is no one Hanukkah story: The most popular explanation of Hanukkah centers around a tiny container of oil that miraculously burns for eight days. This explanation highlights the spiritual legacy of the holiday.

The original story of Hanukkah, however, is found in the ancient Book of Maccabees. It describes a great military victory of the Jewish people over King Antiochus and his army, which was followed by an eight-day celebration. This explanation highlights the military dimension of the holiday.

3. Hanukkah is lots of fun: While every Hanukkah celebration is accompanied by the lighting of candlese, all families celebrate differently. Some give presents each night. Others do different types of community service. Others dedicate each night to teaching about a different period of Jewish history.

4. Hanukkah has special foods: Come into a Jewish home on Hanukkah, and you’ll likely smell fried potatoes. Known as “latkes,” they taste like a cominbation of hashbrowns and tater tots.

In Israel people eat donuts on Hanukkah. The connecting thread is the oil, reminding us of the miracle that occured two thousand years ago.

5. Light is a powerful symbol: Both Hanukkah and Christmas feature light. The Christmas tree is lit up, and Hanukkah candles are kindled evening.

In Judaism light symbolizes God. The candle symbolizes human beings, through whom God brings light to the world.

6. Hanukkah teaches the value of Shalom Bayit, “Peace in the Home.” Song, food and light bring families together. Every generation is engaged and connected.

Children play games, adults cook and teach, grandparents discuss the different ways they have celebrated Hanukkah. The home becomes a miniature temple, a place of sacredness.

7. Hanukkah celebrates religious freedom: The Hanukkah story begins with the Hellenistic rulers of Palestine forcing Jews to abandon their religious practices. The Jewish revolt was motivated by their belief in the right and need to practice their religion freely. Their message continues to inspire those who fight for religious freedom today.

8. There is no one right way to spell Hanukkah: Some people prefer, as I do, Hanukkah with an “H.” Others spell it “Chanukkah.”

The reason for the variety is that no English letter has the exact same sound as the first letter in the original Hebrew word. Every translation and transliteration from Hebrew is an interpretation.

I think this variety is good. Hanukkah celebrates freedom, and we have the freedom to spell it any way we’d like. 

Happy Hanukkah!

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