After the soul departs, it journeys to the gates of heaven where it must present its case for entry. The Talmud (Shabbat 31a) states, “When an individual is brought before the Heavenly court for judgment, the person is asked:
1. Did you conduct your [business] affairs honestly (literally – with faithfulness or trustworthiness)?
You might do it in a dimly lit bar, or in the harsh fluorescent light of your office’s break room. It happens in coffee shops and cafes, over turkey at Thanksgiving and lox and bagels at Yom Kippur break fast. Wherever it occurs, schmoozing, or the art of small talk, has embedded itself into the American Jewish way of life.
As history moves from the age of the Industrial Revolution into the age of technology, the western world has become a service based society. Yet as much as we depend upon the services we receive (someone delivering our groceries, laundering our clothes, preparing our coffee, etc.), the modern age has created a society of individuals, many of whom feel entitled to the services they receive.
Last night’s big Oscar winner was The King’s Speech, the true tale of how King George VI learned to overcome his stutter before ascending the throne after his older brother’s abdication.
The observance of Shabbat is the fourth of the Ten Commandments, listed in both Exodus and Deuteronomy. One would expect to find no difference in the wording of the Ten Commandments from one Biblical Book to the next. However, the wording of the Fourth Commandment differs in two major ways.
I know that Purim is a few weeks off-but somehow the holiday creeps in and often I am left unprepared.
Every year I wait until the last minute to even think about Purim, and making Hamantaschen, and before I know it the holiday sneaks up on me and I end up buying Hamantaschen at the store or bakery.
The Assyrian conquerors who claimed the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C.E. made it their policy to resettle vanquished nations. By transferring one population to another’s land, they sought to crush any sense of nationalism. On the whole, their plan succeeded and the Ten Tribes were “lost” in the vortex of history.
Children notoriously like to test the limits. “If I try to take a cookie, will mom really punish me?” “If I draw on this wall, will dad really be upset?” The job of the parent is to stay consistent and to teach the child that rules are rules.
No longer reserved for Yiddish-speaking grandparents from the Old Country, l’chaim—to life!—has become synonymous with “cheers.” It’s an all-purpose toast for any occasion or situation, crossing barriers of class, culture and age and can be heard over clanking beer mugs across the nation.
There is a powerful idea in Judaism that action is more important than belief. What matters when you say a prayer is not whether, in that moment, you believe everything you are saying. Rather, what matters is you are doing the prayer – and the belief might come later. It’s an idea, backed by modern psychology, that how we talk about something can actually have a huge influence on how we think and feel about it!