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Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use Archives

Can God Make You A Better Person?

“Without God all things are permissible.” -Fyodor Dostoyevsky I was recently in the executive lounge at an upscale hotel. After filling my plate with pita chips and hummus, I began nibbling on the way back to my table. A chip […]

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There Is No Such Thing As Atheism

My teenage students often ask me why we need religion. We don’t need it answer questions about why it rains or why the sun shines. Science gives better answers to those. We don’t need it to explain human behavior or […]

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Three Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

2,000 years ago a great rabbi urged each of us to ask ourselves three questions. Doing so can change our lives. 1. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” In other words, if what I do […]

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5 Rabbis Explain Jesus

  For every complex question, as H.L. Mencken once put, there is usually an answer that is “clear, simple and wrong.” His observation rings true when it comes to a question I get at least once a week. What do […]

A Prayer for Oklahoma

A Prayer for the People of Oklahoma Eternal God, We stand in shock and horror; Bring comfort to those who have lost– Those who have lost their loved ones, their homes, Their neighborhoods, their faith. Be with them–Let your outstretched […]

5 Lessons on Faith from Indiana Jones

Every Israeli secretly wants to be Indiana Jones. Archaelogy is the national  pastime in Israel. Yet, archaeologists and their discoveries often find themselves at odd with traditional Jews. Their finding put into questions foundational parts of faith like the accuracy […]

What Would Lincoln Say About Gay Marriage?

A diverse group of pastors and parishioners now stand in front of the Supreme Court. They claim to know the same God. They also hold radically different views on the kind of relationships that God approves. This situation resembles the […]

What Everybody Ought to Know about Passover: A Series

In less than a month, Jews around the world will set down for a special meal known as a Passover Seder. Begun more than 3000 years ago, as the Jewish people prepared to leave Egypt, the Seder is one of […]

How To Talk With God: 10 Bible Verses on the Power of Prayer

One of the Bible’s central themes is the relationship between God and human beings. In particular, the text explores the way we communicate with God. The conventional term for this type of communication is prayer. It can take many forms […]

How My 5-Year-Old Daughter Inspired Me

A few days ago my five-year-old daughter asked me to download her favorite new song. It’s called “Let Me Love You Until You Learn To Love Yourself.” The music didn’t speak to my soul, but the title did. Sometimes it […]

How To Take the First Step To the Rest of Your Life

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. What he didn’t say that the first step is the hardest step. Jewish wisdom teaches this in the story of a man named […]

How To Be Super At Being Human

At a conference I attended yesterday, writer Carrie Wilkerson shared a profound piece of wisdom. In discussing the hard work required for success, she said, “Don’t try to be superhuman. Be human and people will think you are super.” She […]

God, How’m I Doing?

Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who died last week, had a signature saying: “How’m I doing?” He asked it of passerbys at subway stations, street corners and press conferences. Behind the question was a request for feedback. He was […]

Can Oprah Absolve You of Your Sins?

Lance Armstrong’s confession to Oprah Winfrey has left many people wondering. Was it genuine? Why did he wait so long? Can those he hurt forgive him? Will he ever compete again? Each of us probably has differing responses to these […]

How To Walk Through the Raindrops

Life rains down on all of us. We experience loss, sadness, frustration, difficult times, goals missed, dreams disappointed. We go through broken relationships, betrayals, trust misplaced, loved ones hurt. Yet, while the rain can drown us, it can also strengthen […]

The Secret of Surviving Criticism

“Keep giving them you, until you is what they want.” A mentor once advised me that a good rabbi needs a strong ego. Clergy can become the target of people’s frustration with God, life and the inevitable experiences of pain […]

Top 5 Truths You Can Use of 2012

Happy New Year! This list captures what readers found particularly moving over the year and can help us gain perspective on 2012. It is somewhat subjective and incomplete, since this blog did not formally start until June, and a few pieces […]

Proof of the Power of Prayer

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 […]

Is It OK To Tell Your Children 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 […]

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 […]

What is the Real Miracle of Hanukkah?

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah begins Saturday evening. For eight nights we light candles and thank God for “the miracle He performed for us.” Tradition understands that miracle as one miniscule cruse of oil burning brightly for eight consecutive nights. […]

Have You Seen a Miracle Today?

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 […]

How 1 Policeman Inspired Millions

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 […]

Why Israel Matters to Me

As tension rises once again in Israel, I share with you a most powerful story. It is told by Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. A Tour Guide It begins with Wiesel describing a visit he made in […]

Why Do Good People Suffer?

The eternal question of religion is why do bad things happen to good people. Hundreds of thousands of volumes have addressed the questions. We still yearn for a satisfying answer. The horrific and highly-visible impact of Hurricane Sandy raises this […]

Have We Become a Nation of Spiritual Narcissists?

Noah is the biblical hero who builds an ark, saves the animal kingdom and helps rebuild the world after a great flood. In spite of his heroism, he is not without fault. Consider his seeming lack of concern with anyone […]

How Your Next Step Can Change the World

The next thing you do can change the world. Maimonides, the great sage of the 12th century, uses a powerful metaphor to teach this lesson. At this cusp of the New Year, imagine that the scales of the universe are […]

The Secret of Silence

Every Jewish worship service has space for silent prayer. Yet, many of us find it difficult to pray and reflect in such moments. We tend to feel most comfortable when either speaking or listening. “Judaism,” said Elie Wiesel, “has its […]

How Faith Changes the World

“Prayer,” Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “may not bring water to parched fields, nor mend a broken bridge, nor rebuild a ruined city. But prayer can water an arid soul, mend a broken heart, rebuild a weakened will.” These words reveal […]

How to Discover the Meaning of Your Life

“The most important challenge is not learning how to live after death. It’s learning how to live after birth.” Steven Carr Reuben Cats don’t ponder it. Elephants don’t wonder about it. People, however, fret it about it. Why are we […]

Previous Posts

Will God Condemn Brittany Maynard for Choosing to Die?
On the most sacred Jewish holiday of the year--Yom Kippur--we literally imagine our own funeral. Men traditional wear a white sash that will also serve as their burial shroud. The purpose is to picture our own death in a way that helps us live ...

posted 10:06:23pm Nov. 02, 2014 | read full post »

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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

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