Say Little, Do Much

Unknown

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Every volume of Talmud begins on page 2. The final page of Tractate Yevamot is 122B, but that daunting tome comprises only 121 folios. One who masters its contents must nevertheless concede not ever having finished page 1. American naval hero John Paul Jones declared,...
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Merry

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Too often, Jews react to the Christmas season and its customary greetings with unnecessary discomfort.

The Talmudic sage, Rabbi Yeba, understood the Mishnah to teach that Jews properly greet non-Jews on their religious holidays (Gittin 62A). Maimonides codified Yeba’s insight: such holiday greetings are to...
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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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Yahrzeit

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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