Category: President’s column

Seder – Order

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Summer 2015 “First a person should put his house together, then his town, then the world.” (Rabbi Israel Salanter, founder of Mussar)   The word for order – seder – shows up frequently in Jewish tradition. It is the name given to the evening ritual meal on Passover. It is also the root of the name of the prayer book itself, the siddur. Alan Morinis points out that “because all of creation runs on orderly principles, it is said to be mesudar – orderly – and therefore the Torah, which is the blueprint of the world, is mesudar as well.” […] more

Faith

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“Emunah” It seems that discussing a trait like “Faith” with a faith community should be a straight forward task. But in fact, I have had some difficulty.  This is partly because the topic of faith seems to me to be more in the Rabbi’s corner and not in the President’s domain and partly because as Reform Jews we often skirt the whole issue of Faith and G-d. For the sake of sticking with my plan of discussing these Mussar traits as they apply to our congregational life and not our spiritual life, I will limit my discussion to what I […] more

Responsibility – Achrayut

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TE Goes Green (or is at least trying) “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it “,Pirkei Avot 2:2 As Jews we are asked to live lives of responsibility, whether for our families, our business, our culture or our people. However, responsibility in current society has negative connotations. When something goes wrong, everyone looks for who is “Responsible”.  Responsibility has become a synonym for “guilt.” Whoever is responsible, is the one who is guilty. Yet this is not really what the term was designed for. Alan Morinis points out in Everyday […] more

Loving-Kindness

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Chesed “Do justice, love loving-kindness, walk humbly with God”, Micah 6:8 This month’s trait of “loving kindness” describes TE so well that it probably doesn’t need to be improved, but only commented upon. Jewish tradition elevates deeds of loving-kindness to the highest possible rank among the soul traits. While only some problems have solutions, all problems are alleviated by the loving responses of those around us. These recent weeks have shown an out-pouring of chesed from the TE community as we have participated together in many Shivas, fed the hungry at Abraham’s Tent, made scarves for kids in need, and […] more

Strength—Gevurah

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“Hazak Hazak V’nit Hazek” “Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened” This is the phrase we say when we reach the end of each book in the Torah. It is also this month’s Mussar trait. What is strength? Some definitions include: endurance, resistance, capacity for exertion, power, force, might, vigor, potency, energy or fire power. At this moment, the strength that concerns me is not the power to move mountains, but the strength one needs to overcome our greatest challenges. In Mussar thought, this would be an inward look at the self. But what does this mean for […] more

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