Oasis Songs: Musings from Rav D
Friday, September 23rd, 2016 – 20 Elul, 5776

I’m excited that we’ll be hosting our LGBTQ Pride Shabbat tonight. One aspect of our Neveh Shalom family that we should all take pride in is our long dedication to make this a home for all types of people and families. Yes, of course there is always more work to be, but we should celebrate this stand-out part of our culture. Simultaneously, a work-group that has been addressing this issue of inclusion has concluded that our biggest deficit is not who we are in this regard, but how inadequately we have shared the open and accepting nature of our community. Kol HaKavod to us. 

With the High Holidays around the corner, I’d make the following request. When you come for services, in addition to saying hi to old friends whom you may not have seen in a while, take the effort to introduce yourself to people you don’t know. It makes a real difference.

Bad things really do cluster around the high holidays. It’s not myth. I’ve spoken to funeral directors who’ve been in their business for long years, and they confirm that they see an increase in deaths around holidays. More Christians die around Christmas and Easter.

A friend of mine in Cleveland was an emergency room doctor. He also noted how incidents of domestic violence, accidents and other mishaps cluster around certain days more than others. I don’t think we need to turn to supernatural explanations for this (though as a rabbi, I’m not adverse to that). What’s most likely at stake is that these times tend to surface issues that have been submerged, heighten anxieties and place a spotlight on the gap between our hopes and expectations for the holidays and reality as it unfolds.

There has been an uptick in pastoral calls as Rosh Hashanah approaches. As we all know, sometimes it’s a real struggle to be a human. Families are complicated, relationships can be demanding, and too many people live stretched during less demanding times. We are a sleep deprived nation, after all.

If all is well with you and those you love, count your blessings. Regardless, now is a really good time to remind the people in your life how much they mean to you. Often we neglect to listen or give our kids or spouse the attention they need. We all have a great many demands.

So what can we do? Well, a good chuckle is quite healing. If you don’t believe me, you can check here.

With that in mind, here are some recent things that have come my way. They made me smile. Maybe they’ll bring you a little mirth also.

From some British newspaper classifieds:

Free puppies: ½ Cocker Spaniel, ½ sneaky neighbor’s dog.

Joining Nudist Colony! Must sell washer and dryer £100

Wedding Dress for Sale. Worn once by mistake. Call Stephanie

If English humor (or perhaps that should be humour) doesn’t do it for you, maybe these comments by children may make you grin:

TEACHER: Why are you late?
STUDENT: Class started before I got here.

TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell ‘crocodile’?
TEACHER: No, that’s wrong.
GLENN: Maybe it’s wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.

(Gotta love this kid!)

TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down his father’s cherry tree, but also admitted it. Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn’t punish him?
LOUIS: Because George still had the axe in his hand?

TEACHER: Clyde, your composition on ‘My Dog’ is exactly the same as your brother’s. Did you copy his?
CLYDE: No, sir. It’s the same dog.


TEACHER: Harold, what you do call a person who keeps talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher.

That last one may have been told about a teacher, but some people would readily substitute rabbi in the punch line. Which probably means I better get back to my High Holiday sermons. They are not quite long enough yet…

I hope as we approach our holy days, that you will not be weighed down with additional struggles. May they instead be a time for productive reflection, and an opportunity to celebrate with family, rather than wrestling with those you love. May you be graced with a generous eye that sees the blessings in your life more readily than what you imagine is missing.

As one of my rabbis once said, “You just need to let go of the week so you can enjoy Shabbos. Don’t worry, you won’t miss out on anything; your problems will still be waiting for you on Sunday.”

G’mar chatimah tovah. We should all be signed on for a year of life.

Warmth and blessings,

Rav D

Shabbat Table Talk

You might consider using this article and the following questions as conversation starters over your Shabbat dinner.

  1. When is the last time you had a really great belly laugh or giggling fit? What set it off? What can you do to bring a little more humor into your life?
  2. Most families have someone who fills the role of jester, another person who takes on the serious role, the ambitious or laid back role, etc. What role did you play in your family of origin? If you are part of a family now, what is your current role?
  3. As we approach this cycle of High Holidays, what emotional state best describes your current mood/s? Are you excited, exhausted, oblivious, stressed? Does this occur each year at this time, or is this more of a one-time happening?