Religion Today

Rabbinic Reflections: Breaking for God

As we watch the leaves descend, we do not tell them to stop on their way down. We do not cushion their fall. We may try to catch a few. If enough leaves have fallen we may wish the rest would hurry down in order to make raking a one-time event. In other words, we speak very differently about leaves falling than we do about people falling. When people fall, we want to ...

 
 

Exploring Hope: Can all religions be true?

I occasionally come across people who say that all religions are true. They claim that God is like a mountain with many roads to the top. It doesn’t matter which road you take as long as you love others and treat them with respect. However, there is a logical problem with this idea. Jesus clearly claimed to be the only way to God. He said, “All things have been ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Fragile bravery

“It’s okay to be scared. You can only be brave if you are scared first.” These words rolled easily off my tongue in counseling a kindergartener as she contemplated going down the pole on the playground. The stakes were low, she wanted to be brave, and I knew the words to be true. What I didn’t realize is how important bravery might be in this historical moment. On ...

 

Exploring Hope: The God-shaped hole

I’m convinced that every single person comes into the world with a God-shaped hole in his or her heart. We have a longing for meaning, purpose, and significance. Therefore, we go through life trying to find something that will fill the void within us. Some people tried to fill the hole with pleasure. They dedicate themselves to sex or drugs. They look for the latest ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: God’s body and soul

Friday the 13th had a full moon. What a great reminder that we are not in control; two eerie signs, especially for the superstitious, that the natural world itself has a dark side. This particular full moon marks the middle of the Hebrew month of Elul, the month of preparation for the Jewish High Holy Days. In two more weeks, as the moon wanes to nothing, Rosh ...

 

Exploring Hope: What’s your “god?”

My wife is a professional modern dancer who works with a company in Philadelphia called KYL/D. A few years ago, they did a piece called the “Faith Project,” which looked at the connection between religion and movement. As part of their process, they hosted “story circles” where the dancers could discuss their diverse religious views (from Christian to atheist). But ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Catastrophe, again

Darkness, sadness, and a seemingly unending journey through painful events recounting death, destruction, and doom. Watching the evening news or browsing your phone’s news feed too often feel just like that. Catastrophe is fast becoming the daily grind. It goes without saying that we cannot let ourselves become desensitized, let alone immune or complacent. Today’s ...

 

Exploring Hope: Hearing and doing

One thing I love about music is the close connection between theory and practice. If someone claims to be an expert in classical violin, people expect him or her to be able to play. But imagine if he says, “I’ve watched tons of videos on YouTube and read all the most important books about violin technique. Therefore, I’m an expert!” I think most people would be ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Visiting God

It is Visiting Day at camp. In keeping with a decades old tradition in the American Jewish community, my older children are at a Jewish sleepaway camp nestled in the mountains. In the idyllic environments built by different organizations and owners, nature is just an excuse for where God really shows up, in community. To be clear, I failed as a Jewish summer camper. ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: You are unprepared

You are not ready. You will not be ready. You cannot get ready. The many rituals and traditions that are meant to help us prepare for the Jewish pilgrimage festival of Shavuot, the holiday celebrating both the first fruits of the summer harvest and the receiving of Torah at Mt. Sinai, convey an important message. We are never really prepared to receive the Torah. ...

 

Exploring Hope:  A lesson from the beach

As you prepare to visit the Jersey Shore this summer, here’s a spiritual lesson you might want to consider. In Luke 6, Jesus tells a parable about two “beachfront” homes. He says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, ...