Focus on Prayers

Hukkat: What Have You Done for Me Lately?

What happened yesterday about which you still feel grateful today?   How about the day-before-yesterday?  Last week? Last month? Last year?  It’s hard, and maybe impossible, to feel grateful for benefits received that we no longer re... Continue Reading »

Bereshit: Nu? Ain’t hubris "a-shame"?

Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden of Eden, but had no consciousness of this and thus felt no shame -- until they knowingly violated G-d’s command not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.Their “eyes were opened” an... Continue Reading »

Ve'etchanan: "Handling" the Truth

Ve'etchanan: "Handling" the Truth
“Opium of the Masses” [das Opium des Volkes] is how Karl Marx famously (or infamously, depending upon one’s perspective) referred to religion, although the phrase did not originate with him.     His philosophy... Continue Reading »

Be-Hukkotai: A helpful reminder.

Be-Hukkotai: A helpful reminder.
A few blessings, but many curses.  That’s the count in this week’s Torah portion, Be-Hukkotai (combined with Behar outside Israel). And that’s how our lives sometimes – perhaps often – seem.  Especially... Continue Reading »

Pinchas: The Most Important Verse in Torah

Pinchas: The Most Important Verse in Torah
Given on the occasion of the Inaugural Weekday Morning Minyan Service at: Temple Beth Tikvah, Fullerton, CA July 7, 2014; 9 Tammuz 5774 Which is the most important verse in Torah?  You might choose “Hear, O Israel, the Lord Our G-d,... Continue Reading »

Dvar Torah: Bamidbar: Keeping Our Status Symbols

When I was a boy, my uncle summarized his philosophy for getting along in life:  “One hand washes the other,” he taught me. He wasn’t referring to personal hygiene, but giving and getting help, doing and receiving favors, etc. ... Continue Reading »

Mishpatim: It's "That Time of Month."

Mishpatim: It's "That Time of Month."
This Shabbat, Mishpatim, is also “Shabbat Mevarechim” -- the Shabbat on which “we bless.”    What do we bless (or sanctify)?  The new month that begins during the coming week.  In this case, the mon... Continue Reading »

Sh'mot: No Harm, No Foul

Sh'mot: No Harm, No Foul
When Moses approaches the burning bush, G-d instructs him to remove his sandals because he stands upon “holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5).  But G-d doesn’t explain why Moses shouldn’t wear sandals upon holy ground.  Why not... Continue Reading »

Vayishlach: Prayer at Public Meetings

Vayishlach: Prayer at Public Meetings
“A Priest, a Minister, and a Rabbi walk into a bar.”   This week, I experienced a variation on this old joke introduction.  An Iman, a Reverend, and I walked into a meeting of Americans United for Separation of Church and S... Continue Reading »

Yom Kippur: Oh, Happy Day!

Is Yom Kippur a solemn day, or a happy one?  It may seem a strange question.  Yom Kippur is the ultimate day of Jewish prayer, humility, repentance, and self-denial, including fasting.  How, therefore, can it be “happy?” &n... Continue Reading »
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He who guards his mouth preserves his life
Proverbs 13:3