Menu   

A Bisl Torah

Check Your Ego at the Door


One of my favorite lines in the Torah is offered this week. On behalf of God, Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh and implore, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?” Rashi explains that the word “humble” relates in Hebrew to the word “poor”. Meaning, Pharaoh cannot conceive of being perceived as lowly or destitute before the Great Almighty. Humility and vulnerability are qualities worse than death itself. In some ways, I think many of us understand the conundrum. How much easier should it be to admit our mistakes, wrongdoing, and faults? Why is it so difficult to relent and…

Read this post

Friendships and Miracles


We are on the cusp of celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In thinking about the legacy of this modern-day prophet, I researched some of the early interactions between Dr. King and theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel. King and Heschel are known for their joint passion and activism, standing side by side to improve civil rights. In Moment Magazine, Heschel’s daughter Susannah writes the following, “My father’s relationship with Dr. King felt a little miraculous. My father went to Chicago to give a speech at a conference on religion and race that had been organized by the National…

Read this post

Got Chutzpah?


I just arrived home in Los Angeles from Israel. I have never seen a more dissatisfied nation. I couldn’t be happier. In an interview, Shimon Peres, z’l was quoted as saying the following, “Today you live 80 years. Two hundred years ago, you lived 40. What you have today, a king didn’t have. When a king had a toothache, he was crying like a baby. He didn’t have running water or a telephone. But the more we have, the more we want. Dissatisfaction: that is permanent.” In Israel, we met with a variety of people that can’t sit still. A…

Read this post

Stones of Strength


Our tour guide in Jerusalem asked us to look closely at the stones of the Kotel. I have been to the Western Wall on numerous occasions and wondered if he was referring to the historical dating of the large Herodian stones or some other fact regarding the second Temple period. But he wasn’t asking us to open up a history book. He repeated, “Look closely. The stones were placed one on top of one other in such a way to give the illusion that the wall will never topple over on us.” So I looked closer. Each stone is placed…

Read this post

A Bit of Tweaking


I don’t own a vision board, but I like the concept. The idea is to visually display your goals and where you hope life will lead. Want that career boost? Paint the picture of how you will get there. Dream of a better relationship? Illustrate commitment and dedication. Create a masterpiece of the life you want and instead of admiring the art, live it. It sounds so easy. But many of us understand that life is filled with obstacles, bumps in the road that cause our masterpiece to look like buckets of paint smeared across a page. There is no…

Read this post

Resilience


On the way to my sister’s home in Chatsworth, my kids noticed the charred areas along the Sepulveda Pass. Areas once filled with brush; because of the fires, filled with…nothing. Just nothing. We were shocked by the changes in scenery and my daughter couldn’t help but notice a few meager bushes dotting the perimeter of where the fires were. She said, “Mommy, do you know which color is the most important in the world?” I replied, “I have no idea.” She responded, “It has to be green. Green is what makes the world grow.” And I understood what she meant….

Read this post

How Can I Help?


“How can I help?” When Sinai Temple and the Lainer School of Sinai Temple sent out emails praying for those affected by the recent fires, there was an outpouring of love and support. Beds, meals, water, volunteers to make phone calls, assistance and donations to firefighters and first responders, the list goes on and on. Fortunately, very few people needed our services. However, in the case in which help was needed, this community was proactive in asking, “How can I help?” This is community. This is a synagogue. I know this is true of so many people across Los Angeles….

Read this post

Who Are You?


This week’s Bisl Torah is featured in the Jewish Journal’s Table for Five. In “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” the Caterpillar stares at Alice and asks, “Who … are … you?” And Alice replies, “I hardly know. At least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.” Alice echoes what many of us feel daily: We think we know who we are and then life throws us a curve ball — a new job or the loss of a job, a different role in the family,…

Read this post

Pumpkin Pie


Our Thanksgiving table would not be the same without pumpkin pie. We include two different kinds: one homemade and one from Eilat Bakery. Plenty of other items adorn the table but it feels as if Thanksgiving isn’t complete unless the meal is finished off with a huge slice of orange, gooey deliciousness. Do you know how pumpkin pie became a featured staple of the Thanksgiving feast? Many historians attribute the introduction of pumpkin pie (the way we know it) to Sarah Josepha Hale, a widow, poet, editor, author, and champion of women’s education in the 1800s. She is known as…

Read this post

So Predictable


Dr. Alicia Lieberman is a scientist that studies the growing brains of babies in utero through age three. At the General Assembly in Los Angeles, she explained that when babies engage in ritual, predictable rituals, the comfort of the reoccurring experience allows the child to learn in the most surprising and unimaginable ways. Meaningful ritual: knowing that a parent will tuck you in at night, listening to the same music while pregnant and then, again while playing with your child, taking moments every day to share statements of gratitude and blessing. It may be neuroscience. But it is also very…

Read this post