Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein
Rabbi Jay M. SteinWednesday, January 10, 2018 at 12:00:00 am
Mishna Avot 1,18
RABBAN SIMEON, SON OF GAMALIEL USED TO SAY: ON THREE THINGS DOES THE WORLD STAND: ON JUSTICE, ON TRUTH AND ON PEACE, AS IT IS SAID: JUDGE YE TRUTHFULLY AND A JUDGMENT OF PEACE IN YOUR GATES.
Reading this Mishna, I have the image of a stool with three legs with Rabban Simeon teaching “the world rests on these three legs.” It is clear that society can balance only momentarily on two of the three, but will ultimately fall. All three are necessary for a stable world.
The corollary for the individual is equally valuable. While Rabban Simeon explores the critical components for society, there are equivalents in our personal lives. There are three principles on which each one of us relies. Justice for society can be translated as trust, truth is forgiveness and peace is happiness.
Each of the universal pillars can be personal as well. Each of us needs to find the ability to trust, to ultimately forgive and be happy or we will lose our balance. We can, for a short time, rely on one or two of the three. Some of us are better at balancing than others. However, even for the strongest among us, we need to find all three to live a fulfilled life. Trust, forgiveness and happiness are the three things on which our personal lives rest.
Rabbi Jay M. SteinWednesday, January 3, 2018 at 12:00:00 am
Mishna Avot 1.17
SIMEON, HIS SON, USED TO SAY: ALL MY DAYS I GREW UP AMONG THE SAGES, AND I HAVE FOUND NOTHING BETTER FOR A PERSON THAN SILENCE. STUDY IS NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, BUT DEED; WHOEVER INDULGES IN TOO MANY WORDS BRINGS ABOUT SIN.
We live in a world of people with a dire need to express themselves. We all want to be heard and we all desperately want to get the feelings out. The therapists in all of us beg for us to share so that we don’t keep things bottled up. I agree, but there is a step that must precede the talking.
As our Mishna suggests, we ought to take a minute to simply sit in quiet. Gather our thoughts. Recognize the ramifications our words might have. Sometimes in the quiet we can dig deeper, we can understand more fully. If we jump right to speaking we may not have given ourselves the opportunity to understand the more true emotion in play.
Our Mishna continues, begging us to act. That action may be sharing a thought, an idea, a kindness. When we take a moment of silence to center ourselves, we become open to our world. We believe prayer is about the sounds that come out. I believe prayerful moments happen in silence as well. It is in those moments our hearts open and we are able to receive the gifts all around us.
Rabbi Jay M. SteinWednesday, December 27, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
RABBAN GAMALIEL USED TO SAY: APPOINT A TEACHER FOR THYSELF AND AVOID DOUBT, AND MAKE NOT A HABIT OF TITHING BY GUESSWORK.
We all need life coaches. We can’t do it alone. It is easy to lose perspective and begin to second-guess ourselves and the choices we have made. Because the task of being human requires introspection, something many of us avoid, we can lose our objectivity. We either judge ourselves harshly or kindly but rarely fairly. We easily make excuses or we readily jump to never letting ourselves off the hook. But both are equally damaging.
Mayor Ed Koch used to ask “How am I doing?” Some believed it was a way of keeping in touch with the people of New York, others found it to be disingenuous. Some were even annoyed by the sense of insecurity it belied. But the sentiment is one we can all relate to. We all would like to know how we are doing.
In school there are tests. In careers there are promotions. In sports there are statistics. But in life there don’t seem to be the same metrics for success. Our Mishna explains, ask someone whose opinion you value – if they are willing to share it, take heed. They may have a perspective you have lost.