Monday, March 8th 2021   |

Say Little, Do Much

Sandek

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

During the Bris (Brit Milah) ceremony, the Sandek is the individual (often a grandfather or great-grandfather) honored with holding the infant on his lap (or firmly securing the infant, who has been placed gently on a table) during the actual circumcision procedure.

The Sandek is also referred to as “Baal Ha-Berit” – “Master of the Covenant.” The Sandek has been compared to the Temple Altar...

Triage

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The term “triage” derives from Latin and French, meaning “to sort into three categories.” In emergency medicine, those categories may be summarized as: critically urgent; suitable for delay; and futile. Triage assigns medical care to those most in need, while not endangering those whose condition requires less immediate attention. Triage demonstrates clarity of medical priorities

A similar process characterizes “Purim Meshulash” – the “Three Day...

120

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Tradition records that Moses was born on 7 Adar… and that he died on the same date, precisely 120 years later. Based on that remarkable precedent, blessings for long life are commonly framed as “to 120 years!” (in Hebrew, Ad Meah V’Esrim; in Yiddish, Bis Hundert Zvantzig Yohr!)

It is customary for the Chevreh Kadisha, the communal burial society, to observe 7 Adar as a...

Lincoln

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Today, Rosh Chodesh Adar, inaugurating the month in which we celebrate Purim, coincides with Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Indeed, today marks 212 years since Lincoln’s 2/12 birth!

Lincoln and Esther (the heroine of the Biblical Book which bears her name and is both the liturgical centerpiece and the source of our various Purim observances) have a great deal in common:

Both were bereaved of their mothers...

Extinction

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The New York Times Magazine recently published a cover story about the last two Northern White Rhinoceroses on Earth. Living in Kenya, guarded by a team of caretakers, the two rhinos (a no longer young female and her still more aged mother) are a species on the very brink of extinction. A 2019 United Nations report stated that fully one million species of plants and...

Almonds

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

We welcome Tu B’Shevat – “The New Year of the Trees”– with words of song: “Ha-Shkeidiyah Porachat — The almond tree is blossoming, the golden sun is shining, and from every rooftop, songbirds herald the coming of the holiday.”

The almond is not a nut… but a “drupe” – a fleshy fruit with thin skin and a central stone containing the seed, a botanical designation...

Biden

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

With the inauguration of a President and Vice-President, it behooves all Americans, regardless of personal political perspective or party – as, too, all beyond our borders who stand to benefit from American leadership – to pray for the success of the new administration. Now that President Joseph R. Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris have taken office, let us invoke on their behalf words of blessing...

Dreams

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his iconic “I have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial:

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’ … I have a dream that my four little children...

Refuge

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The Torah provides for six Cities of Refuge, to which the perpetrator of an unintentional, accidental homicide could repair, thereby escaping the otherwise permissible vengeance of the victim’s family (Exodus 21:13; Numbers 3:19). According to Maimonides, the number of such refuges was expanded to 48 by the addition of the 42 cities assigned to Levites for settlement (see Sefer Ha-Mitzvot, Positive Commandment #182-183).

It has...

Morning

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

“Modeh Ani” is the first prayer we say each morning upon waking. It expresses gratitude for the new day, a return to wakefulness, and the blessings of being alive. Because of its brevity and simplicity, it is taught to even the youngest of children: “I give thanks before you, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul to me. Your faithfulness is...