I'd like to share two occasions in which I took part this past week. The first was a family outing to the Oregon Historical Society on Veteran's Day. There was a powerful display on World War II and on the American "propaganda" posters of both world wars. I was moved by both, given hope and also saddened.
The December 2015 issue of Psychology Today has an interesting article about the science of first impressions. Among the striking findings is an argument that we humans have only developed the tools to "read people" over the last 13,000 years. Before the advent of agriculture and larger human settlements, we all lived in smaller tribal units where everyone was known.
Failure is unavoidable. The news media depend on this for their content, and we all know too well what our personal failings are. Most of us also don't enjoy the feeling of failure. Yet given its prevalence, and our continued survival as a species, failure seems essential for us as well. Why is that?
The juxtaposition of last week's parsha, Noah, and this week's Torah reading, Lekh Lekha, provide us a special vantage point to witness God's development as an educator. That divine unfolding provides us with a model that we can also use, whether we work as teachers, managers or want to improve our home life.
Whether or not we modern Jews live halakhic lives--lives that are organized around Jewish law--there is tremendous value and guidance in our legal tradition. Let's turn our attention to two such legal concepts and see if they can shine a little light on our how we go about our days.
At the end of our fall holiday cycle and so many intense days of inwardness, prayer and community, it's not unusual to hear people say something along the lines of "I'm so glad that life is back to normal, now I can get back on track." This raises a couple of wonderful questions. What is the point of the Jewish holidays? What should we take with us as we head into "hol"--into mundane time?
Once again, we are shocked and saddened as a nation. Once again, our halls of education, meant to be a sanctuary from the worst of the world, are bloodied. Once again, we hear expressions of outrage and calls for new legislation aimed at preventing or reducing the periodic and murderous violence that erupts in our schools and colleges.