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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘journey’

The Journey of Old Age

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

{Originally posted to Rabbi Weinberg’s website, The Foundation Stone}

Epicurus’ visit to Abraham began with their customary banter regarding Tent vs. Garden. Abraham’s Tent was open in four directions to welcome all visitors (Genesis 21:33; TB Sotah 10a). Epicurus described his table, also open to any and all, as The Garden. Guests were greeted with a sign that read, “Stranger, here you will do well to tarry; here our highest good is pleasure. The caretaker of that abode, a kindly host, will be ready for you; he will welcome you with bread, and serve you water also in abundance, with these words: ‘have you not been well entertained?’ This garden does not whet your appetite, but quenches it.”


Both Abraham’s Tent and Epicurus’ Garden were vehicles to introduce and nurture new ideas, although Abraham was terribly bothered by the Garden’s welcome sign. Abraham openly declared that it was God, not he, who was the host, and focused on whetting the appetite for ideas, not quenching that for food and drink. But, Epicurus’ was a great mind, and Abraham loved to engage him in debate. Eliezer, Abraham’s majordomo, relished listening in.


Epicurus, as was his habit, rejected Abraham’s offer of “cream and tender calf flavored with mustard (18:8),” and brought his own bowl of plain boiled lentils. They joked about Epicurus not trusting Abraham’s Kashrut certification, but Abraham understood that his guest, despite his reputation as an Epicurean, simply preferred food he had grown himself. The Patriarch considered such preference as dangerous nonsense, perhaps Apikorsut – Heresy, for rejecting the pleasure and promise of human creativity.


Epicurus had recently read, “Now Abraham was old, well on in years, and God blessed Abraham with everything (24:1).” So, when Abraham asked, “What is your pleasure today, my honored guest?” Epicurus answered, “I came to discuss old age. You seem to agree with me that it is the pinnacle of life, the best it gets. I have always taught, ‘It is not the young man who should be considered fortunate but the old man who has lived well, because the young man in his prime wanders much by chance, vacillating in his beliefs, while the old man has docked in the harbor, having safeguarded his true happiness’ (Vatican Sayings).”


They debated for hours. Abraham insisted that his wanderings were consistently productive, had never vacillated, and did not consider himself docked in the harbor. In fact, “Abraham proceeded and took a wife (25:1),” and had more children! Abraham, no longer a Walker (12:1, 17:1, 22:1), currently a landowner (Chapter 23), wanted his journey to continue. He considered his journey of old age as nurturing that of future generations. Epicurus wanted only, “the pleasing recollection of the past.”


Abraham argued for ideas that defined his life. Epicurus debated as his leisure, believing the entire purpose of learning was to attune the senses to the pleasures of life.


Eliezer carefully listened to Abraham’s words, and, when, “Abraham said to his servant, the old man of his house (24:2),” was touched that his master considered him Abraham’s type of old man. Eliezer was so moved that he assumed his connection with Abraham made it obvious that only Eliezer’s daughter would be the right match for Isaac. The old servant was shattered and shocked when Abraham insisted that, although only Eliezer could be entrusted with the mission, the servant would choose Isaac’s wife from Abraham’s long ago abandoned (12:1) family. Abraham immediately sensed Eliezer’s pain. The master, who said to the people of Heth, “You consider me a stranger and a resident among you (23:4),” stubbornly refused to allow himself to be defined by others, understood that Eliezer sought his definition in Abraham, and needed to master the journey of old age. Eliezer’s mission to find a wife for Isaac was intended to teach the old servant how to journey.


Eliezer searched for a woman who was kind, but Rebecca’s highest quality only became obvious, “the next morning, Eliezer said, ‘Send me on my way to my master.’ But her brother and her mother replied, ‘Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.’ He said to them, ‘Do not detain me, now that God has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.’ Then they said, ‘Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.’ So they called Rebecca and asked her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ ‘I will go – eileikh,’ she said (24:54-58).” Rebecca was a Walker. She was willing to leave her family and go out into the world just as did Abraham so many years earlier. It was only at this point when Eliezer fully appreciated why Rebecca was the perfect match for Isaac, and, “The servant took Rebecca and went – vayeilakh (Verse 61).” Eliezer became a Walker. He mastered the journey of old age. He finally understood Abraham’s definition of his greatest pleasure as that of courageous human creativity. Anything less was, well, Apikorsus!
May You Experience Shabbat As A Creative Journey Into the Future

Shabbat Shalom

Dedication: In honor of the Hebrew Birthday of The Greatest Journeyer, Debbie Brenner


Rabbi Simcha Weinberg

The Journey From The Refuge

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

{Originally posted to Rabbi Weinberg’s website, The Foundation Stone}

Even as Moses reviews the story of the people he led out of Egypt, he hints at his own story, a story that at one point, leads him to break out in song: ” Az, Then Moses set aside three Cities of Refuge on the bank of the Jordan (Deuteronomy 4:41).” The Ba’alei Tosafot point out that “Az” is always the introduction to an inspired song. The Song of the Sea begins with “Az (Exodus 15:1). The Song of the Well, too, begins with “Az, (Numbers 21:17).”

So why, ask the Ba’alei Tosafot, did Moses break out in song when he set aside Cities of Refuge for killers?

We wonder why Cities of Refuge stimulated song, when the Shema and the retelling of Revelation and the Ten Statements did not?

More than a century earlier, Moses needed his own City of Refuge. He killed an Egyptian taskmaster (Exodus 2:12), and ran, exiled, from Egypt to Midian. It was in Midian where he became the Moses who would discover God at the Burning Bush. It was in his refuge that Moses became the man who would lead his nation from Egypt to Revelation, all the way to the Jordan River, where he set aside the Cities of Refuge.

The tragedy that caused him to lose his place in Pharaoh’s palace eventually led him to the highest heavens. His second look at his life story caused him to break out in song. Moses sang of the power of Torah to serve as a refuge that would allow even a killer to have an Act Two beyond all expectations. He would now be able to retell the story of Revelation, not as a story, but as a second act, an opportunity to experience the process again and be transformed. This is the first time that we learn that Torah is a Song, why the musical notes of the words are so significant, for they are the Song of the Act Two, an opportunity to rise from tragedy to unimaginable heights.

This Shabbat, Shabbat Nachamu, is named for Isaiah’s famous prophecy of consolation that begins with, “Nachamu, Nachamu, Comfort, Comfort, My people (Isaiah 40:1).” Nachamu, Nachamu, not as a repetition, but as the Song of Act Two. Isaiah is, as did Moses when setting aside Cities of Refuge, promising that Act Two is possible, and holds even more promise than life before exile.

We welcome the Angels to our Shabbat table with a song. People often ask me why we repeat each stanza, and my answer is always, “Each Shabbat can be a Song of Act Two, no Shabbat is as any other. Each is a City of Refuge from which we will emerge as did Moses from his, elevated, inspired, empowered to achieve more than we ever dreamed possible.”

It is exactly such a Shabbat that I wish for every Israeli family that sought refuge in a bomb shelter, and for each one of us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Simcha Weinberg

The Parsha Experiment – Matot-Masei: Israel’s Psychological Journey

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Parshat Masei begins with a recap of everywhere Israel has been so far on their journey throughout the desert. And you have to ask: who cares? Why is this here? As we’ve discussed many times, the Torah is not just a list of laws and stories. Each piece is meant to teach us some sort of timeless lesson. How does this travel log do that?

{This video is from Rabbi David Block and Immanuel Shalev}

Link to last week:


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Immanuel Shalev

Book Review: The Spiritual Journey Of A Jewish Chaplain

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Life Support: Stories of My Chaplaincy and Bikur Cholim Rounds by Rachel Stein, 213 pages, (Lakewood, New Jersey: 2016), published by Israel Bookshop


“What do you mean you won’t do a baptism?” asked a nurse. “All of the other chaplains do!” Rachel Stein, working in a hospital with mostly non-Jewish patients, whom she prayed with and comforted, was put on the spot many times because she is Jewish. That didn’t keep her from completing the chaplaincy training. Now Rebbetzin Stein has written a book about her experiences as the co-founder of Bikur Cholim of Atlanta and as a Jewish chaplain.

In her moving introduction, Rachel, who has written eight children’s books, tells about losing her father at age four and how difficult it was to grow up without a father and grandparents. Rachel says she sought out the elderly. “I found the elderly to be cute, fun people who twinkled when they laughed and exuded unconditional love.” She was also so driven to visit the ill that at the age of 14 she volunteered in a cancer hospital, “drawing immense satisfaction from bringing sunshine into the patients’ days.”

When her mother became ill, Rachel was 25, married, had young children at home and was pregnant. Living two hours away from her mother’s home in Philadelphia, she hoped to visit often, but the drive was too much for her. Then a special friend, Elaine, offered to take her every week. This lasted for a month, enabling Rachel to be there on the day that her mother’s soul left this world.

“How can I ever repay you for what you did for me?” Rachel asked Elaine.

“When someone needs help, you be there for them,” said Elaine. “And that’s how you will repay me.” It’s obvious from reading Life Support that Rachel has repaid Elaine many times.

There was no organized bikur cholim society when Rachel and Michele Asa started one in Atlanta in the merit of a refuah sheilamah for Danny Miller, a father, aged 34, battling cancer. Everyone loved Danny and he loved them. Each morning he woke up to a sign in his bedroom: “Hello, G-d. It’s me, Dan Miller, reporting for service.”

Rachel Stein (seated) at a book signing for Life Support. Left to right: Rena Naghi and her daughter Janet Afrah, owners of Judaica Corner in Atlanta, where the book signing took place.

Rachel Stein (seated) at a book signing for Life Support. Left to right: Rena Naghi and her daughter Janet Afrah, owners of Judaica Corner in Atlanta, where the book signing took place.

Even while enduring chemotherapy, Danny did mitzvos for others, especially bikur cholim. With his warm smile and sunny disposition, he uplifted the sick. He also had a thirst for Torah. He arranged to learn with several chavrusos and was “…determined to master as much Torah as he could.” Later, everyone who visited Danny knew that he yearned to hear a new thought in Torah.

One day, Rachel received a call from his devoted wife. “We’re asking the community to come over today,” she said softly. “Danny wants to say goodbye.” Rachel writes about the day throngs of people came to the Miller’s house to tell Danny how much he meant to them and their children. “A minyan many times over formed around him, and our community experienced a second Yom Kippur.”

When Danny Miller passed away, the Bikur Cholim of Atlanta was dedicated in his memory.

Changing names for privacy, Rachel, in her vibrant, easy-to-read style, shares remarkable stories of volunteers and those they visit. The stories are vignettes – short but powerful. She takes the reader along with middle-school girls who spontaneously dance and sing at a nursing home. “I can still see the smiles of the girls as they locked eyes with their elderly friends,” writes Rachel. Titles of other vignettes about volunteers include: “Two Men on a Mission,” “The Perk Lady,” “A Southern Belle,” “Shidduch Services” and “A Pastrami Sandwich on Rye.”

One story, which Rachel titles, “The Call of the Shofar” is told in the voice of Chana, a woman in a rehabilitation facility after a serious fall. On Rosh Hashanah, Chana waited for Rabbi G. to blow shofar for her.

R.M. Grossblatt

The Other Caped Crusader

Friday, November 30th, 2012

I quit my full-time job eight months ago without another one to fall back on. In hindsight, it wasn’t one of my better decisions, but it was time for me to move forward. I was in a position that never quite suited me – like an ill-fitting pair of shoes that’s one size too small and rubs across the toes. Sure, a nagging thought called a recession cropped up from time-to-time before I resigned, but I was confident I would only be on the market for a few weeks, max. Armed with a new LinkedIn profile and a heaping dose of faith, I bid farewell to my boss and colleagues of six years to embark on my new journey.

The job hunt went well at first, until I realized my journey had taken me down a metaphorical six-lane highway, ejected me from the car, and thrown me down an embankment. I lay among the debris, moaning. I managed to crawl back up, only to lie down in the middle of the highway as traffic barreled down on me. And I stayed there – unemployed – for months. I began arguing with God. “How could you do this to me?” I howled. “I’m a good person. I don’t deserve this.” I was greeted with silence.

Echoes of the poem “Footprints” ran through my mind: “You promised me Lord that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?” More silence.

I rolled over on the now jam-packed highway to confirm that my super-hero cape –emblazoned with the word “righteous” on the back – was still firmly affixed to my neck. It was. I could not make any sense as to why God had not yet sent me a rental car to get me back on my journey. I reasoned perhaps He was waiting for some additional prayers. “Fine,” I thought. “Let’s get this over with.”

“Please God,” I began. “Please send me a new job. I have always been a good servant to You. I am honest and ethical and I call my mother almost every day.” Silence. I needed a different tack. “The emotional and financial toll of my unemployment on my family is heartbreaking,” I pleaded. “They shouldn’t suffer because You haven’t sent me a new job.”

There was an angry silence – but this time, it was mine.

That was it. All bets were off. I was fuming. I had no choice but to officially declare war on God. I would not speak to Him unless spoken to – and since that seemed rather unlikely given the chilly reception I had been receiving – I decided from that moment forward, we would maintain separate lives and living quarters. I stopped davening. I stopped hoping. I cursed my fate and my belief system, angry at being punished. I began an accounting of all the things that had gone wrong in my life and found God sorely lacking. But I was not ready to admit defeat. I would not let God off the hook for abandoning me in my time of need.

And from the rubble that was now my life, a calm voice – one of reason – suddenly emerged. “You can’t lie down across a six-lane highway and expect to be saved,” God said. “But the cape,” I said, my voice trailing off. “What about the cape? Did you see it? I’m a righteous individual, a good person,” I argued. “I know I haven’t given much to charity lately, but what do you expect when you refuse to send me a new job?”

“Roll over,” God said. I did. “The other side,” God instructed. And there it was on my cape. “Self” was inscribed just before the word “righteous.”

I was embarrassed. There it was for all to see – like the Scarlet Letter. I had been self-righteous and pompous and I had to own my mistakes. “I sinned against you,” I told God. “I failed in my journey of faith.”

Allison C. Witty

The Road Map To A Happy Marriage

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Creating direction in a marriage is similar to going on a long journey. To get to where you want to go, you need to have a plan that includes directions, supplies and the ability to navigate along the way. You will also have to be prepared for many possible factors that may interfere with your trip, including wind, rain, unpredictable mechanical breakdown and human error. Most importantly you will need a map to guide and help reorient you in case you lose your way.

Many couples who seek my advice are simply lacking the guidance of a relationship road map.

Take Shmuel, 25 and Rivky, 23. They came to speak with me about the lack of excitement and enthusiasm in their marriage. They had only been married for about six months, but were already feeling as if they were traveling down a bumpy road to an unknown destination.

From the outset they looked like the perfect couple – well-dressed, articulate and extremely well-educated. All of the excitement surrounding their engagement period and wedding had just about ended. Now, in their sixth month of marriage, they were feeling unequipped to deal with each other’s emotional needs. They were constantly bickering about the small things – like garbage collection, cooking dinner and cleaning up around the house.

Marriage wasn’t supposed to be so hard. Unable to cope, they started to withdraw from one another, instead of working together to solve their problems. It’s important to note that these were two healthy individuals who had the potential to have a great marriage, but they were lacking a roadmap or emotional GPS that could guide them on how to communicate and gain greater understanding of one another.

This couple’s relationship was clearly going off course. They needed guidance to stay focused on their destination.

To make their job easier, I suggested that they follow an emotional road map based upon what I call “The Four C’s of Relationship Theory: Connection, Control, Communication, and Conflict Resolution.” Together, they provide a clear guide to help couples evaluate where their relationship is going, and where and how to make changes if necessary.

Imagine, for example, if Shmuel and Rivky could read each other’s minds and understand what makes the other happy or sad, or scared and the way each wants to be cared for.

The Four C’s help couples see the bigger picture, and then make a distinction between the areas that demand attention, and those matters that are superficial and should not be the focus of their relationship. For example, you may find yourself arguing over small things like washing the dishes or doing the laundry. You may also be feeling as if your spouse is overly controlling and denies your feelings. Or, you may feel the two of you are drifting apart and aren’t as connected as you used to be. If so, should you try to be more assertive? Or should you learn more about you spouse’s inner world, increase the amount of quality time you spend together, and carefully work through their issues with them? A look at the Four C’s should provide an answer.

The following chart summarizes the principles of Relationship Theory.


The First “C”: Connecting to
Your Spouse’s Inner World

Learning about the total person you are married to is one of the main goals of marriage. As a therapist, I help couples explore both sides of their personalities – their external behavioral characteristics as well as their inner emotional worlds.

It’s important to note, that as human beings, we live in two distinct emotional worlds: an outer world and an inner world. The outer world is merely a façade, a layer which covers up our deeper and unseen emotions. The inner world, however, is the place that holds the key to understanding what makes people tick. Regrettably, many husbands and wives never learn about the complex and delicate issues in the other’s inner world; each relates only to the other’s outer or external side of their personality.

How in touch are you with your spouse’s inner world? Listed below are common negative behaviors that are based upon underlying “inner” world emotions. Take a few moments to evaluate your awareness of these issues.

Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch

Iron Dome’s Secret Components (From Toys ‘R Us)

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

There is a long, fascinating article in Hebrew about the “Secret to Iron Dome’s Success” — I will translate just a few paragraphs for you which I found fascinating:

“At the beginning of our journey [to create the Iron Dome], it was simply almost impossible.  We believed we would succeed, but the challenge was unprecedented.

In retrospect, its clear that the [time and financial] limitations imposed on the project, which seemed insurmountable, are what led to extremely creative and successful ideas.  The simplicity is not only in the design, but in the manufacturing process.  The manufacturers have told us this is the simplest rocket they have ever produced.

As scientists, its true we dream of sitting in offices with unlimited time and budgets to create perfect products.

Yet reality and limitations forced us to “break our heads.”

There are rocket components that are FORTY TIMES CHEAPER [in Iron Dome] than those we normally would purchase.  I can even give you a scoop — this is the only rocket in the world which includes parts from toys from “Toys R Us”.

One day, I brought my son’s toy car to work.  We passed it from one to another and saw that it has components that would be useful for us. More than that, I cannot tell you… (Source).


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/iron-domes-secret-components-from-toys-r-us/2012/11/22/

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