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"...The sukkah is a symbol of vulnerability: a shelter that ultimately does not offer complete protection. It is susceptible to the elements; the roof made of natural materials is meant to be slightly open in order for us to see sunlight during the day and the stars at night. (It was ironic to be thinking about how this week the elements themselves might interfere with the construction of the sukkah.) The sukkah is fragile, and when we sit in the sukkah we are, while covered, still exposed...."
"Death is a problem. It is death that seems to suck the meaning out of life. If it is all temporary, if after 60 or 80 or even 120 years it is all gone, then what's the point? If all of life is leading inexorably towards a time at which it disappears like a puff of smoke, then my existence is just an exercise in futility, and I might as well never have lived to begin with...."
"We sat in synagogue most, if not all, of the day. We didn't eat. We thought about the ways we missed the mark. We were steeped in the messages and ideas of Yom Kippur all day.
But today, we're back at work. We've got e-mails to respond to, kids to drive to school and gymnastics and soccer, and are dealing with the day-to-day grind of our lives. And that's why even though Yom Kippur is important, the day after is even more so...."
"...I have wondered lately if we transfer our fears and anxiety on to our two presidential candidates and on this coming election.
I wonder lately if all of our obsessive attention on the election deters us from acting in ways which will actually change our course for the better...."
"...While I pray for all of my children–for their health and happiness, and their safety in an uncertain world–I found myself unable to pray for anything in the days following the Orlando attack. I found solace only in the recitation of psalms, in the original Hebrew and in Stephen Mitchell's English adaptations. These rich expressions of human emotion help me feel less alone...."
"...I believe that whether we realize it or not, we may encounter angels in our lives, and we may be angels. As with God, we don't have proof one way or the other of the existence of angels, divine messengers. We have no obligation to believe that they are real. But they are present in Jewish tradition, as well as other traditions...."
"...Last week I was the Em Beit Din, the head rabbi on a panel of rabbis, for an extraordinary conversion. The woman we were converting was in New South Wales And the rabbis on the beit din were in Georgia, Tennessee, New York City, Chappaqua, New York and New Mexico...."
"...We need to remember that there is so much more change within us than we believe possible. Yes, we struggle. Yes, we fail. Yes, we don't always live up to our best selves. But when we wade into those dark and scary places, we find the seeds of growth...."
"...New Year's resolutions are a tricky business. On the one hand, we make them because we aspire to be better versions of ourselves. We yearn to become the individuals we know we can be but have not yet become. We want to do better, to be better, to become our own self-help narratives.
But we also know that we will fail to keep most of our NY resolutions...."
"During the High Holiday period, we expect a great deal from ourselves. Putting aside the business of material holiday preparation (meals! more meals! house cleaning for guests!) we also understand this period to be one in which we are expected to review our year, figure out what we have done wrong and try to right it.