The Great Big Sort:
The Wonderful Blessing and Terrifying Danger of the Time in Which We Live

They gave out lettuce.
Yes, one time, someone I know, got lettuce from a neighbor as a trick or treat food.  Not owing to make lots of friends and not the most neighborly thing to do.

There is a Chinese proverb that says that “A good neighbor is like a priceless treasure.”  Well, lettuce on Halloween, may not be so priceless, but we all know how priceless a good neighbor can be.  From the big moments in life, to the day-to-day routine, supportive people who share your life and neighborhood make a big difference.

And Rebbi Yose feels the same.   In Pirkei Avot 2:9 he tells us that the good path of life is being a
 שכן טוב --a good neighbor.  R. Lau, in his commentary, tells us that this means that we should choose where we live  with great care, making sure we are surrounding ourselves with a proper environment. He shares the famous quote: “You can give me gold and silver, but I would not trad…
Holiday Windows, Cups and Scrolls-Chanukkah Lessons from the Miraculous "Big Three"

It’s that time of year again. The time of windows.  People make the trek to Manhattan to look at windows--- Macy’s windows, Bloomingdale’s windows and even pizza shop windows give stores the opportunities to show all passersby that they are in the spirit of the season, whether it be commercially, spiritually, or both.  

And for us, as Chanukkah approaches, windows become central as well.  This is because the central mitzvah of Chanukkah, lighting the Chanukiah, must be done so all who pass by can see, (Shababt 21b) Each night we must either place the Chanukiah by the door or by the window fulfilling the principle of pirsumei nissa, publicizing the miracle. (Megilla 3b, 18a, Pesachim 108b and Brachot 14a)

The obligation to publicize the miracle appears in the Talmud most prominently 3 other times.  It is found when discussing the reading of the Megillah on Purim,, the drinking of the 4 cups on Pe…
We are All Away, We are All Home and We are All Bozos on the Bus

We sometimes talk to people. We sometimes talk to pets and these days we often talk to Siri and Alexa.  And in Judaism, we sometimes talk to books.  Whether it be a tractate of Talmud or an order of the Mishnah, upon completion, we say the hadran. The hadran, is a promise given.  In a sense, we talk to the book and say, “We will return to you.”

It is in these weeks that we return to the story of Avraham and to one of the most profound statements of identity that he makes.  And every year, the more I experience life in the halls of school and beyond,  his statement rings more true.  He identifies himself as a ger v’toshav , both a stranger and a dweller (Gen 32:4).   Even after years of success in the region, he still feels like a stranger.  And while he is saying this to Bnei Chet, I think Avraham, himself, feels like both a ger and a toshav - as it is a deep seeded reality of the human condition.

Our children, our stude…
The Emendation of a Parting Gift
When I moved from Baltimore to New York three years ago, a friend of mine gave me a gift of a plaque that said, “Life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself.”
This quote was originally coined by George Bernard Shaw and most likely connected to the theme of his play, Pygmalion.
In spending time reflecting on the themes of the chagim this year, and especially on those of Shabbat Shuva, for some reason, this quote kept playing in my mind and I have come to look at it with different lenses.
The Haftarah for Shabbat Shuva comes from the 8th Century prophet, Hosea.  He begins by saying, (14:2)
(ב) שׁ֚וּבָה יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל עַ֖ד ה אֱלֹ-הֶ֑יךָ כִּ֥י כָשַׁ֖לְתָּ בַּעֲוֺנֶֽךָ
Return, O Israel, toward the LORD your God, For you have fallen because of your sin.
We are to return towards the Lord and this return, according to Rabbi Yehuda Kil is a return to our origins--a going back to the roots of our relationship with God.  He says that the messa…
When our Kids “Beat” Us

It has become a summer ritual.  The “Jerusalem Marathon.” Each August on the second Sunday, I visit the summer camp where my wife works and my son attends.  Around that time, the camp holds a camp wide run with official scorers, numbers and timers.

I began running in this run and in others with my son a few years back.  He is now almost 16.  The first few races we did together, I had to slow down significantly just to make sure he was safe.  As the years went on, we ran together, but I still had a faster time.  

And this year, when asked if I was running with him, I told people, “I can no longer run with him, he has far surpassed me.” Just like my other children who have far surpassed me in their acting, singing, learning and moral abilities, in the father son race, he has won.  

In the Talmud there is a famous story about a Torah “father/son” dynamic.  In Bava Metzia 59b, a heated discussion about a technical point of Jewish law is found.  There is one single opi…
A Blogpost Sponsored by the Letter B

While my kids have left the world of daily Sesame Street watching, Sesame videos are still affectionately played at my home.

One of my favorite Sesame Street songs is one modeled after the famous Beatles song, “Let it Be.”  In this skit, four muppet beetles are playing similar chords to the rock classic, singing, “Letter B, letter B...”

The letter B has lots of connotations, but this summer, after reading both Option B by Cheryl Sandberg and Lost at School, by Ross Greene, the following Websters’ definition of this second letter of the alphabet, resonated-- “one designated b especially as the second in order or class --I chose option b.”  Here’s why...

The lesson of “Option B”- Sheryl Sandberg, tech executive and best selling author of Lean In experienced a terrible tragedy when her husband died suddenly at age 47  in a hotel gym in Punta Mita, Mexico in 2015.  Her book, Option B has its roots in a story that she shares in the book and on her web…
The Most Sacred Corner Office: Lessons in Parenting from the Business Shelf

The New York Times “Corner Office” column presents weekly lessons from business leaders on how to lead and succeed. Over the years, this, in addition to leadership books, have helped me in the lifelong quest to become a more reflective and quality leader.

One of the books I read this summer is called Radical Candor which was recommended to me by one of our teachers.  It is a book that is about improving as a boss and a team builder by combining caring for others and directly challenging them to grow at the same time.

Interestingly, while reading it with a professional lens, my lens as a parent kept on creeping in.  This is because so many of the lessons about being a good supervisor equally apply to being a good parent.
-Good supervisors want to guide toward success with care. So do good parents.
-Good supervisors want the constituents to bring out the best in one another. So do good parents. It was in the c…