Tuesday, September 22nd 2020   |

Say Little, Do Much

Say Little, Do Much: Weddings

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

This Shabbat, as we read in Parshat Bemidbar of the People Israel’s tribal princes, much of the world’s attention will be riveted to the royal wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle. The royal couple’s wedding day is also Erev Shavuot.

As Harry and Meghan celebrate their shared life and love, Jews will be marking Zman Matan Torateinu, the Festival commemorating God’s...

Say Little, Do Much: Jerusalem

 By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The Rabbis (Sanhedrin 37A) describe Jerusalem as tiburo shel olam — “the navel, the belly-button of the world!” Let’s contemplate this curious metaphor. The ancients not implausibly considered the Land of Israel (Jerusalem at its heart) as the center of the known world: the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe.   “Jerusalem as Navel” further bespeaks the Holy City’s role as a link to our foremothers...

Say Little, Do Much: Powerlessness

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

I recently attended a “Friends of Scouting” dinner keynoted by astronaut Mark Kelly. He encouraged and inspired young Scouts and their leaders, speaking of his youth, his military service, and his storied career.

He discussed the assassination attempt in which his wife, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, was shot and grievously wounded. Weighing consequential medical decisions in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, he met with her...

Say Little Do Much: “Hear!”

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

“Shema Yisrael!” The Shema is the most famous and central prayer of Jewish tradition. We teach this verse to our children as soon as they are able to speak, and we strive to make these prayerful sentiments our final words on Earth.

“Yet,” Solomon Schechter observed, “no agreement has been reached as to the exact rendering” – the precise translation of the Shema. Hear, O...

Say Little, Do Much: Seventy

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Ben Shiv’im L’Seivah, says Pirkei Avot (5:21) – “The age of seventy brings fullness of years.” What an historic privilege it has been to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the founding of a free and independent, democratic and Jewish State of Israel!

Yet age is a relative state. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. quipped: “To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful...

Say Little, Do Much: Anonymity

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

I have noted previously in this column that God’s name appears nowhere in the Book of Esther. Countless Seder celebrants cite the parallel exclusion of Moses from the Passover Haggadah. Moses’ conspicuous absence may be a tribute to his self-sacrificing leadership. Defending Israel from divine wrath after the golden calf debacle, Moses says: “If You forgive their sin, well and good! If not, erase me...

Say Little, Do Much: Priorities

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

In my youth, I was privileged to attend a truly outstanding congregational Hebrew School, under the leadership of Rabbi Asher Bar-Zev. I remember vividly sitting among particularly unruly and inattentive Hebrew high school students, when the Rabbi abruptly called our lesson to an early termination, citing the principle “Derech Eretz Kadmah l’Torah” – “Courtesy, civility, and proper comportment must precede Torah study.”

Our ill-mannered behavior,...

Say Little, Do Much: Action

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The title of this weekly column, “Say Little, Do Much,” is (while partially in reference to its brevity) taken from Pirkei Avot 1:15, where it is listed as a favorite teaching of Shammai. Shammai was not entirely original in his perspective. To Confucius is attributed the similar maxim, “The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.” Confucius was a Chinese...

Say Little, Do Much: Need

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

By time we say “Kol Dichfin Yeitei v’Yeichol, Kol Ditzrich Yeitei v’Yifsach” at our Seders (“Let all who are hungry come and eat, all who are in need come and observe the Passover”), we have already recited Kiddush, drunk the first cup of wine, ritually washed our hands, eaten “Karpas” (the green vegetable), and prepared the Afikoman! Why invite needy guests to join us so...

Say Little, Do Much: Mosaic

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

This Shabbat, March 17, is a day of unusual pageantry. We begin the Book of Leviticus. It is (additionally) both Rosh Chodesh Nisan, inaugurating the month in which we celebrate Passover… and Shabbat Ha-Chodesh – the third of four special Torah readings anticipating that Festival. The rare confluence of these milestones necessitates the reading of three separate Torah Scrolls!

This Sabbath, many of our neighbors...