Say Little, Do Much

Healing

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

When Miriam was stricken with leprosy (Numbers 12:13), Moses cried out to God on his sister’s behalf: “Please, God. Please heal her!” His brief prayer prefigured the “Mi She-Berach” – the formulaic petition for healing often included in congregational worship or said at an ailing...
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Triplicate

By JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Rosh Chodesh Tevet always coincides with the sixth day of Chanukah. This year, that celebration falls on Shabbat, occasioning a day of uncommon pageantry and procedural complexity. Shabbat morning services feature the reading of three separate Torah Scrolls: one each for the weekly Portion, the reading...
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Counting

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

An ancient ritual protocol demands we not directly count people in establishing the presence of a minyan (a quorum of ten) for public prayer. Some obviate this prohibition by assigning to each worshipper a single word from Psalms 28:9 (Hoshiya et amecha…), comprising exactly ten...
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Happiness

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav taught, Mitzvah gedolah lihyot be-simchah tamid – “It is a great Mitzvah (a Divine Commandment, a religious duty) to be happy – always!” Is constant happiness possible… or even a desirable goal?   There are times when other emotional responses are more...
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Yartzheit

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Yahrzeit – commemoration of a loved one on the anniversary of his or her death – is a wise and therapeutic response to the fact that the mourning process never entirely ends. Yahrzeit beckons us to take stock of the spiritual and moral legacy of...
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Veterans

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

After God drowned the Egyptian army at the Red Sea, our Israelite ancestors sang their triumphant song, declaring, “The Lord is a man of war.” What does this suggest about the nature of God… or of God’s view of armed conflict?

Dwight D. Eisenhower said,...
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Twice

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

As a child, one of my favorite holiday songs was Ani Purim, which asks, madua lo tavo, Purim, paamayim ba-shavua: “Why, O Purim, do you not come twice every week?!”

While such a proposal seems, at best, impractical, the lessons of Purim should not be...
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Thankfully

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The first prayer we customarily offer each morning are words of gratitude: Modeh/Modah ani – we thank God for restoring us to life and awareness when we wake. This ritual pattern is worthy of a religious tradition which takes “thanksgiving” as its very name.

“Judaism”...
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Combatants

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Rabban Gamliel was Nasi – head of the Sanhedrin – ancient Israel’s national deliberative body and highest court. A brilliant scholar and able leader, Gamliel had a fatal character flaw. He repeatedly introduced bitter partisan rhetoric and ad hominem attacks into the Sanhedrin’s debates.

Tellingly,...
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Rain

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Geshem – the Prayer for Rain – is chanted on Shemini Atzeret, the concluding day of Succot. Cantors dress in a white robe or Kittel, as on the High Holy Days, reflecting the importance of the prayer, the sanctity of the occasion, and the function...
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