Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use

The Perfect Diamond with a Scratch: A Story of Hope and Healing

This short story, first told in the 19th century, continues to bring comfort and healing. We can use it every day of our lives.

Love Wins: 3 Spiritual Lessons from Disney’s Frozen

I used to enjoy walking into a home of peace and quiet. Since the film Frozen premiered, I have lacked this simple pleasure. Its soundtrack seems to play on a continuous loop every day throughout our home.

hannah and tam

I guess that’s part of the price to pay for having two small children. As a glass half-full kind of guy, however, I’ve tried to find the positive message in my children’s obsession with this particular film. Aside from its beautiful music and cinematography, it does convey profound truths. 

Should We All Let It Go?

On the surface, the overriding message seems to be “Let it go.” In other words, be true to yourself. Follow the passion lying deep in your heart.

But this interpretation ignores the events of the film. When Princess Elsa does “Let it go,” she unleashes her power to make everything frozen and almost destroys her country. When she thinks only about herself, others suffer.

Love Means Sacrifice

The deeper lesson is the connection between love and sacrifice. The true hero of the film, in my humble opinion, is not Elsa. It is her sister Anna.

Anna begins as the playful younger siblings. She is flummoxed when her sister seems to ignore her, unaware of Elsa’s fear of using her powers too capriciously.

She yearns for companionship and falls for the handsome and seemingly honorable Prince Hans. In the end, however, Hans seeks only to gain power for himself. He plans to kill Anna and blame Elsa.

Anna stops him by risking her own life to protect Elsa’s, and this sacrificial act of love saves the kingdom. It also saves Elsa, who realizes love is the key to controlling her power. The two sisters and the rest of the kingdom live happily ever after.

Putting it all together, we have three key spiritual truths.

1. Appearances deceive: Prince Hans seemed like a responsible loving leader. Yet, he nearly succeeds in murdering Anna and Elsa and taking over their kingdom.

Elsa also seemed like a rude and aloof sister to Anna. Yet, Elsa acted this way because she did not want to hurt her sister, not because she did not love her.

2. Letting it go can be dangerous: Despite the beauty and catchiness of the song, “Let it go” is not a lesson for living. It is a recipe for chaos if we let it go too far.

3. Love wins: A prince does not kiss the princess and save the day. Rather, a sister puts herself in harm’s way to save another life. A sister learns that power can only be used wisely when we love those we serve.

When love wins, we all live happily ever after.

Date Night With God

A healthy marriage is sustained by consistency. It is not the big moments—the wedding day, the birth of a child, the new home. It is the acts of love and commitment expressed daily, weekly and year after year.

date night

Sustaining them is not always easy. One consistent practice I suggest to young parents is a date night. Too often their lives become consumed by their children’s. (I can attest to it.)

Yet, one of the best ways we can teach children the importance of family and relationships is by demonstrating dedication to one another. A date night helps make that into a habit.

A Little Time for Each Other

The habit can also help our relationship with God. Daily prayer is important, but a regular evening or morning of worship nurtures the relationship.

God knew that long ago and instituted a regular date with each of us called the Sabbath. For an hour or two, we sit with God. We pray, we sing, we eat. We talk about our week and let God speak into our lives. 

The benefits this date night are manifold.

1. Space to grow: In the business of life, we can become so caught up in the trees that we miss the forest. The Sabbath lets us look at our lives from what the philosopher Spinoza called “the perspective of eternity.” We see what is insignificant and remind ourselves of what matters most.

Just like a married couple sometimes needs to step outside the grind of carpools and soccer games to remind themselves of their abiding love, so we need to step outside the messiness of the everyday and see the holiness up above.

2. Time to listen: God does not often speak directly. We need to discern God’s word. There is a reason the ancient Israelites received God’s law in the wilderness. They were not distracted by buildings and crowds. 

The Sabbath is an opportunity to set daily distractions aside. In Jewish tradition we do not spend money or do physical labor. We rest. We reflect. We listen.

3. Energy to re-engage: Human beings are not energizer bunnies. We do not keep going and going and going. We need to pause in order to persist. We need to stop in order to surge. We need to recharge in order to return.

God built a day for rest into the natural order. The Sabbath is not only an obligation. It is a gift. And it is a gift that keeps on giving.

How a Sinner Became the Ancestor of Israel’s Greatest King

The most important Israelite tribe stems from line of Judah. Judah is the fourth son of Jacob and Leah. His name comes from the Hebrew root “yahdah,” which means “gratitude.”

King David came from the Tribe of Judah.

King David came from the Tribe of Judah.

The beginning of Judah’s life is marked by treachery and emotional indifference. He convinces his brothers to sell Joseph to traveling slave traders. Then he impregnates his daughter-in-law Tamar.

But then something happens. Judah awakens to a sense of right and wrong. He realizes he had hurt Tamar and acknowledges it saying, “She is more righteous than I.” (Genesis 38:26)

The Ancestor of King David

This act also establishes Judah’s hereditary significance. One of the children born to his daughter-in-law becomes the ancestor of King David. The tribe of Judah becomes the tribe of the Kings of Israel. 

Judah’s character transformation becomes more evident in next several chapters of Genesis. When he and his brothers travel to Egypt in search of food during the famine, Judah is their leader and spokesman.

He offers himself up as a hostage to Joseph when Joseph demands the brothers bring bring their youngest brother Benjamin to Egypt. When Joseph refuses, Judah succeeds in persuading their father Jacob to allow them to bring Benjamin to Egypt, and pledges to defend Benjamin with his own life.

It is Judah’s plea on behalf of Benjamin that finally leads Joseph to reveal his true identity to his shocked brothers. 

The Lone Survivor

Along with the Levites, Judah’s descendants become the only Israelite tribe to survive the Assyrian destruction of the Northern Kingdom in 722 BCE. Three factors account for their survival.

  • First, their territorial basis in Jerusalem. Through the ingenuity of King Hezekiah, who came from the tribe of Judah, Jerusalem survived the assault of the Assyrians through the construction of a water tunnel between the Gihon Spring and the Old City.
  • Second, their loyalty to King David. After the death of King Saul, the other tribes remained loyal to the Saul’s clan. Only the tribe of Judah supported the ascension of David. David’s success led to the success of the tribe of Judah.
  • Third, the tribe of Judah integrated other Israelite and non-Israelite tribes. The tribe of Benjamin was much smaller than Judah, and it eventually assimilated into it. Scholars have also discovered evidence that several Canaanites tribes became part of Judah through conquest and intermarriage.

 A Profound Legacy

Several of the Bible’s most significant figures come from the tribe of Judah. Beside King David and Jesus, most of the Hebrew prophets are Judahites.

The word “Jew,” first used in the Book of Esther, is derived from Judah, indicating the disproportionate number of Israelites who came from the tribe of Judah.

The Bible also teaches that the Messiah must come from the Tribe of Judah. Scholars trace this requirement to later generations understanding of the reign of King David as Israel’s golden age.

David united the Northern and Southern Kingdoms and oversaw an era of great conquest and prosperity. The return of one of his descendants to the throne would restore that glory.

 

Previous Posts

The Strange Book of the Bible We Read in Sukkot
Tonight begins the Jewish “Festival of Tabernacles.” Known in Hebrew as Sukkot, we spend time in  temporary outdoor dwellings. They remind us of the fragility of life our ancestors experienced during their journey across the Sinai Desert. Vanity, Vanity, All is Vanity!  The biblical book

posted 3:57:40pm Oct. 08, 2014 | read full post »

When a Rabbi Announces He is Gay
Religious leaders are public figures. We live on display. People look at what we drive, what we eat, what we wear. Unfortunately, sometimes we hide parts of ourse

posted 8:01:44am Oct. 08, 2014 | read full post »

Is 75 the Perfect Age to Die?
Dr. Ezekiel Emauel, the well-known bioethicist and brother of the mayor of my town, argued recently in an essay in the Atlantic Monthly that 75 is the perfect age to die. After that, he said, most people have little to contribute to society and are a burden rather than a benefit. I can think of f

posted 9:02:23pm Oct. 05, 2014 | read full post »

Yom Kippur: The Happiest Day of the Year
Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. It is filled with solemn prayer, and most Jews fast. How, then, can it be the happiest day of the year? Allow me to explain... Picture the scene: It is 1944, in Glasgow, Scotland, in the midst of the Second World War. Kol Nidre is about to

posted 1:29:44pm Oct. 03, 2014 | read full post »

The Secret to Traveling Light: A Jewish Story
Once upon a time, a poor man walked from town to town. He carried a heavy load on his back. One day a wagon driver stopped his horse and offered him a ride to the next town. The grateful man said “Yes, thank you for your kindness.” After they had gone a few minutes, the wagon driver turned ar

posted 3:17:31pm Oct. 02, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.