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For Each to Discover חובתו בעולמו  : A Hope for the Class of 2022   To the Dear Class of 2022, While each class is unique, you will always be special as not only a class that I have grown with here at KDS since you were in 3rd grade, but as the first that I had the pleasure of teaching in the classroom on a regular basis.  Through our time together every other day in Judaics this year and in so many other surroundings, I have been so impressed with you all.  You are a group of smart, inquisitive, caring and supportive young people.   While many principals tell their graduates that they have the whole world in front of them, I want to sharpen that blessing with two other ideas about the world for you to take going forward. The first message about the world comes from R. Moshe Chaim Luzatto as told in his  מסילת ישרים.   He tells us that the most important job of each person is to figure out חובתו בעולמו  their responsibility in their own world.   The outside world is out there for you t
 Were they All Really Holy?  Death, the Yoms and our Personal and National Legacy Each year as spring arrives, Jewish people memorialize.  From Yizkor on Pesach, to Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron, we say prayers that allow us to reflect on those whom we have lost, both in our personal lives and in our nation. Yet, this year, as I sat in Yizkor, one line gave me pause.  In some of the versions of the אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים Memorial Prayer for Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron, we say כלם קדושים, each and every person who died was holy.   But how is it that they are all holy?  Certainly some of those whom we think about on these days were unkind or inconsiderate or even cruel or dishonest.  Sometimes קדוש may not be the first or even the last word we use to describe them.   So why does everyone who died in these events get “bumped up” to the level of holiness? I spent some time discussing this question with our thoughtful KDS students, and we came up with a few answers that can teach us all impor
Dancing with Elijah:  Peace, Parenting and the Dialogue of Generations:  Lessons, Quotes and Questions for Your Pesach Seder If one were to think about the central “hero” of the Passover story, Moshe would most certainly come to mind. The man who rose up, saw injustice, led the people and challenged the authority of Pharaoh ushering the people to freedom—Moshe is the obvious choice to star at our Pesach tables.   Yet, Moshe probably would not win, as it is commonly known that his name is not even found in the Haggadah. So who is the next in line? To me, the Biblical character that is most fascinating at the Seder is Eliyahu HaNavi, Elijah the Prophet.  Eliyahu is central to introducing Pesach each year in the Haftarah of Shabbat HaGadol and we famously invite him in and sing his song each year toward the end of our Seders.    And I think it’s Eliyahu’s messages that are what we all need most right now.   Below are some key lessons on Eliyahu, some brief explanations, and sources and qu
The Brooks of Esther: Two Important Lessons by David Brooks to Lead into Purim Over the past number of years, I am one of the many who have learned from the wisdom of columnist and author, David Brooks.  Two of his pieces in particular helped to complement my learning of the Purim story this year. The first is a graduation charge called “The Great Unmasking” and the second is his book, The Second Mountain . (Sources below) A Message for our (Almost) Unmasked Times in the Holiday of Masks As most schools recently removed mask mandates, the Jewish holiday of masking being upon us is certainly timely. Purim is a story about hiding.  Esther, the woman whose name means,”I will hide,” hides her identity to the King. God is hidden as the Divine name does not appear even once in the book.   And we hide on Purim – we disguise ourselves and mask who we really are. And in the past two years, mask on/mask off is sadly a reality we have all come to know all too well.  Brooks shared this thought abo
 How to Sing our Purim Songs in Adar Alef It’s February.  In my family, February is known as the “gut” of the school year.  It’s dark, it’s cold and the spring seems far off.  For many, finding joy is hard in the doldrums of the February routine.   Last week, as we were beginning to welcome Adar Alef*, someone started singing about joy.  Mi Shenichnas Adar, gets us into the spirit of welcoming Adar, the month of Purim, with happiness and simcha..  “Isn’t it a bit early?”, asked someone in the group.  The “real” Adar, is Adar Bet, where we celebrate Purim and truly get into that Purim spirit. This week began Adar Alef and  there are no festivities in the offing. Is the rule of increasing joy for Adar applicable to both Adars or just for the second one? R. Eval Vered insists that both Adars are ones that require us to increase our joy, yet there are two kinds of joy and each corresponds to the different Adars..   While some events give us sadness and some give us joy, events are external
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The Gods of Doors and So Much More–Parshat Bo and the Making of the Month of January In his new book, The Week: A History of the Unnatural Rhythms That Made Us Who We Are David Henkin talks about the different ways we count time and how those ways define our identities as both Jews and dwellers in the outside world each and every day.  We live in 2 worlds when it comes to tracking time.  On the one hand, we count time on our Jewish calendar, a calendar which runs primarily by the moon.  It helps us pace our lives through the rhythms of the holidays, months, Shabbatot and seasons.   And there is the way that we count time as members of the modern world using the Gregorian solar calendar.  That calendar marks events in our “secular” world like we did just last Friday night when we welcomed 2022.   And January has its unique feel.  The winter doldrums, shorter days and lots of snow and ice are nothing to get so excited about.  I often countdown the days until Spring in January.  But after
From Trees to Oil - Parental Hopes and Lessons for Tomorrow As December arrives and the trees are losing their last leaves, the daf yomi daily page of Talmud, resurfaced for me one of the most famous brachot and stories in all of the Talmud -- one that is about trees that we usually save for Tu B’shvat.  (Taanit 5a-6b) Rav Naḥman said to Rabbi Yitzḥak: Master, give me a blessing. Rabbi Yitzḥak told him the story of a traveler in the desert. Walking for days, he’s weary and tired, when suddenly he comes upon a tree. He eats from its fruit, rests in the shade and drinks from the small brook at its roots. When rising the next day, the traveler turns to the tree to offer thanks: “Ilan, Ilan, bameh avarkheka, Tree oh Tree, how can I bless you? With fruit that gives sustenance? With branches that give shade? With water that quenches thirst? You have all of this!” In a tender moment, the traveler looks to the tree and states, “I have only one blessing. May that which comes from you be as beau