Living With Death

Death is a problem. It is death that seems to suck the meaning out of life. If it is all temporary, if after 60 or 80 or even 120 years it is all gone, then what’s the point? If all of life is leading inexorably towards a time at which it disappears like a puff of smoke, then my existence is just an exercise in futility, and I might as well never have lived to begin with.

Posted on October 18, 2016

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Meeting Angels

By Tagged angels

Last January 26 in the evening, I went to Manhattan to participate in a shiva minyan after the death of a friend’s father. I was on the subway headed home, reading a rather esoteric book about finding a spiritual path through some of the most obscure Jewish laws, called The Boy on the Door on the Ox. At one stop two men got on the train. One was white, one black. They were dressed exactly the same, in padded khaki jackets, khaki pants, and work boots. Each carried a medium-sized bag, one of mesh, one of plastic. The white guy, who was a big guy with a Russian accent, said loudly as they entered the crowded car: “Aren’t these seats reserved for the handicapped?” I was sitting in one of the two seats that are indeed reserved for those with disabilities. The women next to me jumped up and was out of there. The white guy plopped down next to me, pretty much right up against me because, as I said, he was a pretty big guy. He smelled very strongly, mostly of alcohol.

Posted on October 10, 2016

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Rosh Hashanah: Get Woke

tallit shofar rosh hashanah yom kippur high holidays

During the High Holiday period, we expect a great deal from ourselves. Putting aside the business of material holiday preparation (meals! more meals! house cleaning for guests!) we also understand this period to be one in which we are expected to review our year, figure out what we have done wrong and try to right it. Although we all understand that the Jewish tradition allows to to do teshuvah, to repent and repair our relationships with one another and God at any time, from Elul through Hoshanah Rabbah with its seesawing from joy to awe to fear and back again is intended to prompt us to take stock, now and particularly at the apex of the season, during the aseret yamei hateshuvah – the ten days of repentance from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur.

Posted on October 5, 2016

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