Say Little, Do Much

Simple

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

With months to go before Passover, is it too early to be thinking about the Seder?

The Haggadah describes “Four Sons.” It is the obligation of parents to teach their children the significance of Passover in a personally tailored pedagogical manner appropriate to the specific...
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Trees

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah, is remembered as the Biblical character with the longest lifespan: 969 years (Genesis 5:27). Apparently owing to the prodigious dimensions of his age, Methuselah’s name is also used to designate over-sized wine bottles: those containing six litres (203 ounces) and...
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Gashes

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The Torah explicitly prohibits self-injury as an expression of grief and mourning: “Lo Titgodedu – Do not inflict wounds or gashes on yourself… over the dead” (Deuteronomy 14:1). Such primitive funerary rites were common in the Ancient Near East in which our Biblical ancestors originated,...
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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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