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Showing posts from September, 2018

Thought for the Day: Yom Kippur is Annual Spiritual Inventory and Training

I scheduled by annual physical for the morning of Erev Yom Kippur. I certainly wish that I had thought to do that because I wanted to take care of my physical judgement day to parallel my my spiritual one, but it just happened to fit into my schedule. Ah well; maybe next time I'll have better kavanos.

There are two questions that arise every year; one on the front end of Yom Kippur, and one on that back. On the morning before Yom Kippur -- after almost two weeks of סליחות/extra prayers specifically targeted at arousing the Creator's trait of mercy (as opposed to strict justice) -- we end with just a whimper of a prayer; abbreviated service and not even a token תחנון. On the back end -- after 25 hours of prayer, supplication, and fasting; raising ourselves to the level of completely spiritual beings -- we drop immediately into our weekday evening prayers, which includes a plea for forgiveness of our sins; hang on.... didn't we just achieve complete forgiveness and atonement…

Thought for the Day: Do תשובה One Day Before You Die

Here's some physics humor for you: What do you do if you are in a falling elevator? Wait till you are one foot from impact, then jump as hard as you can! [It's physics humor because: (a) it isn't funny. (b) we physicists would never tire of discussing why that wouldn't actually work. (c) That "not working" is more of a biology, material science, and engineering question; not real science.]

Here's something, though, that does work: Do תשובה -- real, complete תשובה -- even up to an including the very last moment of your life. A person who does real, complete תשובה in that last moment of his life merits עולם הבא, enjoying for eternity the sublime pleasure of basking in the radiance of the Divine Presence along with the entire community of the righteous.

That being the case... why should I do תשובה before the last moment of my life? Leave aside (for the moment) the practical question of how you would manage to know when that time is. Leave aside (for the mome…

Thought for the Day: Proper Attitude Toward Using סגולות - Just My Opinion

When a TftD -- which is all, basically, my opinions -- has "just my opinion" right in the title, you may just want to surreptitiously hit Delete and/or Close and move on. I probably would. On the other hand, you might find it a refreshing "truth in advertising" and so stick around just for that.

In a recent TftD (Havdala for a Jew Who Didn't Keep Shabbos), I spoke in disparaging terms about a non-religious Jew who wanted to do Havdala just because he thought it was a סגולה for good eyesight. I said he was basically using Havdala as some sort of voodoo. I would like to clarify: My disparaging has nothing to do with his level of religiosity; it has everything to do with using a mitzvah as a trick to get some benefit via a shortcut. Gaming the system, in modern parlance. (Modern for me, anyway; so I may sound like a someone calling "groovy" a modern expression. Oh well.)

I am not the only one that feels this way. (But mom... all the kids are doing it!) A…