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30 Days of Elul – Day 27 – Forgiveness

30 Days of Elul – Day 27 – Forgiveness

Rabbi Alan Lew relates the following story of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, the legendary spiritual leader and composer.  Reb Shlomo came to the United States from Austria as a teenager, a refugee from the Nazis.  Every so often he would go back to Austria and Germany to give concerts, and people

30 Days of Elul – Day 26 - Forgiving Iniquity (Avon)

30 Days of Elul – Day 26 - Forgiving Iniquity (Avon)

What does it mean to sin? In countless places in our tradition, our sages have told us that sinning is, in one form or another, “missing the mark.” Our intentions are mostly good, as human beings created b’tzelem Elohim, in God’s image, we believe that we are essentially good, there are just

30 Days of Elul - Day 25 - Compassion for Thousands

30 Days of Elul - Day 25 - Compassion for Thousands

I can’t stand most pictures of me but I had to share this one for compassion.  It was taken in the fall of 2010.  I am near the Prime Minister’s home in Jerusalem in a tent that housed the parents of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.  They had set up the tent to pressure the government

30 Days of Elul - Day 24 - Abundant in Truth

"I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."   Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken   Abundant in truth is one of

30 Days of Elul - Day 23 - Abundant in Kindness

30 Days of Elul - Day 23 - Abundant in Kindness

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”  -Fred Rogers The wisdom and insight of Mr. Rogers has guided generation of Americans. Whether it was on his famous show Mr. Rogers’

30 Days of Elul - Day 22 - Slow to Anger

One of the more ground-breaking things the editors did with the new machzor is add alternative Torah readings not normally read.  One of the additions for Yom Kippur is the end of the Joseph story (Genesis 50.)  The reason this is added is because it is blatant about forgiveness. Joseph, the

30 Days of Elul – Day 21 – Elul - Graciousness

30 Days of Elul – Day 21 – Elul - Graciousness

Ever feel truly embarrassed?  Years ago, in high school, I once felt terribly embarrassed when I arrived for an event and realized I was completely under-dressed.  Everyone was in suits and formal attire – I misunderstood and wore jeans and shoes with no socks.  I apologized to my host, and

30 Days of Elul – Day 20 - Compassion

30 Days of Elul – Day 20 - Compassion

How many of us watch TV and when we see suffering in the world, their pain becomes our pain? How is that possible? How can we feel the pain of others we don’t even know? One of the thirteen attributes of God is compassion. And that divine attribute lives within us all. People, like God, have

30 Days of Elul – Day 19 - El

We are told that there are 72 names of God. These names appear throughout our tradition, and each highlight or illustrate some characteristic of the Holy One of Blessing. But in our Torah, there are two names that are used for God over and over again, names that are familiar to us: Adonai and

30 Days of Elul - Day 18 - Adonai

Without fail, every year, during Selichot services, the Saturday night before Rosh HaShanah, there is a point in the service that touches me deeply.  Standing in front of the ark, we sing “Adonai, Adonai,” this gorgeous moment that relives Moses seeing God pass before him in Exodus 34.  I imagine it