Say Little, Do Much

Luck

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

A seemingly jaded, self-deprecating saying of the Sages suggests: “Ein Mazal L’Yisrael” (Shabbat 156, Nedarim 32A). Superficially (and in its ironic, colloquial usage) this maxim means “Israel has no luck!” That is, “The Jewish People can’t seem to catch a break!” We have no “mazel”...
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Kissing

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Albert Einstein quipped: “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”

The Hebrew Bible’s most famous kiss is bestowed upon Rachel by Jacob, when they first meet, standing beside a communal well...
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Books

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Henry Ward Beecher, celebrated nineteenth century Congregationalist minister and abolitionist, observed: “Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?” I confess! I find myself at my least frugal, my most prone to impulse purchases… while shopping for books. As a result, I have...
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Amen

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

“Amen” is a statement of assent or affirmation in response to a prayer, blessing or good wishes (at times even a curse – see Deuteronomy 27). The Prophet Isaiah uses “Amen” as synonymous with “truth” (65:16).

Responding “Amen” affirms the truth of the prayer that...
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Toys

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Chanukah and Purim are often paired together as a “matched set.” Both are minor holidays. Both celebrate the deliverance of the Jewish People from tyranny and persecution. Both are celebrated with variations of the prayer “Al Ha-Nisim” – acknowledging the miraculous nature of the events...
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Dissent

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Esteem for dissenters and minority opinions has featured prominently in Jewish tradition from the earliest moments of our history. The first Patriarch of Israel was Avraham Ha-Ivri – Abraham, the Hebrew (Genesis 14:13).

While “Hebrew” (Ivri) may simply denote a descendant of Eber, it is...
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Humility

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The Torah states that “the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the Earth” (Numbers 12:3). The academic journal “Current Directions in Psychological Science” reports on a recent study of humility as a personality trait. It found that...
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Hope

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

“Dry Bones,” the graphic commentary of political cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen, has appeared in the Jerusalem Post since 1973. “Dry Bones” lightheartedly explores Jewish identity, religious and communal life, Israeli and global politics, and the Jewish historical experience.

The comic strip takes its name from the...
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Conversion

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan, known as the Chofetz Chayim (the title of his first book), is one of the seminal rabbis of the twentieth century… perhaps the most renowned of all rabbinic ethicists. His final book, Sefer Ha-Mitzvot Ha-Katzar, details every Commandment practicable in modernity....
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Moderation

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

To King Solomon is attributed the dual counsel, “Don’t overdo goodness… Don’t overdo wickedness” (Ecclesiastes 7:16-17, JPS translation). The virtue of moderation is here written into the moral vision of the wisest of men!

The Talmud relates the story of Honi “The Circle Drawer.” Honi...
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