Say Little, Do Much

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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Holidays

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Henny Youngman, the stand-up comic known as “The King of the One-Liners,” quipped: “I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up – They have no holidays.”

The month of Mar-Cheshvan (also known as Cheshvan) is notable for its unique and defining lack...
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Again

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

In one of my family’s favorite movies, “The Princess Bride,” Inigo Montoya (played by Mandy Patinkin) avers: “You told me to go back to the beginning, so I have.” His statement represents a turning point. Montoya here begins his transition from a dissolute and lawless...
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Shade

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The Festival of Succot prescribes, as its central observance, the construction of temporary shelters – the Succah – in which we “dwell” throughout the Holiday and, especially, eat our meals. Rabbi Akiba teaches that the Succah represents God’s protective Presence during the wilderness period (Sifra...
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Tashlich

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

It is customary on Rosh Hashanah, or later during the Ten Days of Repentance, to perform the ceremony of “Tashlich.” We go to a body of water and symbolically cast off our past sins and failings by throwing bread (or pocket lint!) into the water....
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Monuments

By RABBI JOSEPH H.PROUSER

It is customary to prepare for the High Holy Days by visiting cemeteries, to reflect and to pray at the graves of parents and family members. This admirable custom, Kever Avot, affords the living the opportunity to confront our own mortality, to honor the departed, and...
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Burdens

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Carrying the Torah Scroll in conjunction with its public reading (or on other liturgical occasions) is a signal honor. Some customarily take the scroll in their right hand (for greater control and security), while others insist on holding the Sefer Torah on the left side, resting...
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Lifelines

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The Zohar teaches: “A rope was tied to the leg of the High Priest when he entered the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, so that, should he die inside, he could be pulled back out!” Our ancestors feared for the life of the High...
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