Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein
Tweet and Re-Tweet
Rabbi Jay M. SteinMonday, December 11, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
ABTALION USED TO SAY: SAGES BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR WORDS, LEST YOU BE CONDEMNED TO EXILE, AND YOU BE EXILED TO A PLACE OF EVIL WATERS, AND THE DISCIPLES WHO FOLLOW YOU DRINK AND DIE, WITH THE RESULT THAT THE NAME OF HEAVEN BECOMES PROFANED. (Mishna Avot 1:11)
I was regularly astounded by what came out our children’s mouths. They used to say some of the most amazing things. Then I realize they just picked it up from me. I am afraid of all of the things I have said that may still emerge from their lips. We all must be careful in words we use, they can bring healing or hatred. Our words are a reflection on who we are.
We are given so many tools for communicating today. Twitter is one of them. This platform emphasizes that not only does every word mean something, but every letter, every character as well. Recently, Twitter announced it is introducing a longer format entitling its users to double the number of characters. Apparently 140 characters is not enough to express what we need to say.
From some of the tweets I have read from prominent leaders 140 characters is more than enough. My father used to say that we are each given a certain number of words to use for our entire lives. If I wasn't careful, I might run out. I wish some of our leaders would act with such discretion, or at least be careful with what they re-Tweet.
1% Inspiration, 99% Perspiration
Rabbi Jay M. SteinTuesday, November 28, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
SHEMAIAH USED TO SAY: LOVE WORK, HATE ACTING THE SUPERIOR, AND DO NOT BRING THYSELF TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE RULING AUTHORITY. (Avot 1:10)
In the wonderful book The Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell suggests there are a variety of people who form the social glue that keeps our world progressing forward. He calls these people connectors. These are people who are able to bring people together to accomplish a task. They are the ones who remember that “x” person has a specific skill that “y” person really needs and he is able to put the two together.
Getting the right person for the right job is a key component for success. But our Mishna offers a couple other suggestions as well. The modern equivalent of “love work”, is as some say success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. While the today’s version of “hate acting superior”, might be to suggest the most successful people are those who give credit where credit is due.
No matter the cliché we apply, success comes from the confluence of a number of factors and probably cannot be reduced to three simple steps. Each of us must plot our own course in life and achieve success by metrics we hold to be valuable and sacred. But know, that no matter how you define achievement, it will take work, attention and patience.
Life is too Serious
Rabbi Jay M. SteinTuesday, November 21, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
"And it was when his days extended there: and Abimelek, king of the Philistines, gazed through the window, and he saw: and here was Isaac “fooling around” with Rebecca his wife!" (Genesis 26:8)
26:8. fooling around. Hebrew , a pun on the name Isaac. (Friedman, Richard Elliott. Commentary on the Torah)
Life is so serious. People we love pass away. Relationships fall apart. Friends get sick. Careers turn. Politics gets us down. Wars abound. People are displaced and starving. There are days we want to pull the covers over our heads and shut the world out. The news is depressing. Our Facebook feed no longer provides the relief it once did. There is no real drive to go out because the traffic is unbearable. It's getting dark so early not just because the sun sets early but because it seems as though the world is just a little more bleak.
In this week's reading, things look pretty bad for Isaac and Rebecca. They have been forced to leave their home and separate from each other. The stresses in their life abound. However, they are able to sneak away and laugh a little. It seems to make life a little more tolerable.
I know I have been labeled "a funny rabbi." People often joke I should have become a comedian or at least an opening act for events here at the shul. Well, if it brings a little relief, I am pleased to do my part.