September 2013 archive

Viddui and Imperfection

  Defensiveness is such a visceral, human response at even the hint that we may not be perfect.  None of us wants to be reminded of our flaws, of the times we stumbled- I know I surely don’t!  The struggle to be open to uncomfortable feedback has been a lifelong spiritual process for me.  During …

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Religion in the Contemporary Strategic Environment

Why every strategic leader needs to understand religious factors in the operational environment.religion and strategy final[1] A briefing presented to the 807th Medical Command, Deployment Support

Unetaneh Tokef and Rabbi Amnon of Mainz- an Anti-Martyrdom Rant

        As we turn now to the powerful words of the Unetaneh Tokef prayer, we contemplate this question- What is the elusive, awful charisma of martyrdom?  Tragically, in our own generation, we have seen a resurgence of the notion that there is great glory in dying for one’s religious beliefs.  The story of the Akedah …

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Wait, Wait- What!

“Patience is a virtue,” or, as George Eliot expressed it more poetically, “The wine and the sun will make vinegar without any shouting to help them.”[1]  My children think I’m the most impatient person on the planet, but that’s only because they haven’t spent more time with my mom.  My parents were visiting AZ once …

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Reflections on the Yamim Noraim- Temple Chai Spiritual Leaders

    Erev Rosh HaShanah– Rabbi Mari Chernow  S. Y. Agnon tells the story[1] of a young man who became estranged from his father, the king. The son left his father’s palace and wandered from village to village and from city to city. His clothes became tattered and torn. His face changed so that he …

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Kaddish D’Rabbanan- Honoring Our Teachers

After we study a text, it is customary to say the Kaddish D’Rabbanan- the Rabbi’s or Teacher’s kaddish- probably the least known among the variations on the kaddish prayer.  It is a special favorite because it combines two of Judaism’s highest values- learning and gratitude.  In the Kaddish D’Rabbanan, we offer a prayer on behalf …

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Unetaneh Tokef and the Pope

What do you know about St. Francis of Assisi, and what does he have to do with the Unetaneh Tokef prayer? One of the best news stories of this past year, as far as I’m concerned, was the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina as the new Catholic pope. The Cardinal is the first …

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Love Means Having to Say You’re Sorry

         One of the more memorably ridiculous lines in literature comes from a work that was popular in my childhood- Love Story– in which the author famously wrote, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  Raise your hand if you agree that you can successfully sustain long-term, loving relationships without ever apologizing?          Which …

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Entering the Yamim Noraim

Forgiveness means so many different things to each of us. However we understand forgiveness, however we approach forgiveness, it is never easy. In fact, for most of us it is the greatest spiritual struggle of our lives. Sue Monk Kidd expressed it this way- “If God said in plain language, ‘I’m giving you a choice, …

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