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Kol Sarah

I'm going on record here: while I dislike her politics, values and philosophies as presented during her 2008 bid for Vice President, I dislike equally - if not more - the ugly language that's swirling around some parts of the liberal blogosphere in reaction to Sarah Palin's recent as-yet unexplained resignation as Governor of Alaska.

The language is very ugly and not worthy of repetition. Too many posters/commentators sound positively obscenely delighted to rip her - and her family - apart. Change Sarah to Barack, Bibi or Hillary and you end up with hideous and repulsive racism, anti-Semitic and misogynistic swill. It's sickening to read and does nothing more than sink to the level of the spewers of filth on the extreme right wing of American political media spectrum.

Last week we read about lashon hara and its consequences. In a little over a month we will observe tisha b'Av and note the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, brought about - the rabbis teach - by rampant sinat chinam, senseless and mindless hatred.

We teach and learn by example. Those of us who condemn ugly rhetoric from some parts must - out of simple menschlachkeit - condemn it from all parts.

You don't like what Sarah Palin represents? Then condemn her values and her positions and work to make sure she is not elected to public office, but leave her neshamah out of it.


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Elul 21: The airline safety guide (Love)

You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Adonai. (Lev. 19:18)

You shall love the stranger that dwells with you (who will be for you like the native-born among you), as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am Adonai, your God. (Lev. 19:34)

And you shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might ... (Deut. 6:5)

If you've paid attention to your flight attendant, you know that in the event of an emergency, you put your own oxygen mask on first. Only then do you help someone next to you, including a child. Why? Because if you don't have oxygen, you're useless to anyone else.

It's the same with love.

Start by loving and caring for yourself. It's not selfish; it's just a place to start.

Then move outward: your neighbor, your community, the strangers around you.

Then, finally, the realm of God: the spiritual love that holds all the others together.

But it all starts in your own home.

Erev Rosh Hashanah 5777: WAIT

I got the best advice from my son: "Mom, why are you even engaging with these people? Please stop."

I've got people on Facebook who - while holding similar philosophies in some areas - are 180 degrees from me politically. I long ago determined that arguing with these people is counterproductive, only useful if I believe - science notwithstanding - that heartrate-raising arguments is equal to a good cardio workout.

And so my goal for today is to WAIT (by the way, not an original concept - I learned it from Rabbi Andy Sklarz): Why Am I Talking?

Provocateurs and bullies want to be engaged. They poke, someone responds, and the game is afoot. Like fire, they need constant air renewal. So if don't engage, don't respond, they will run out of air.

So for today, I grit my teeth ... and wait.

Elul 7: Choice - God, the Restaurant, and Malbec

Choices are good.
Choices are terrifying.
Choices are God's way of saying, "Hey, human, trust Me; you and I got this, and don't worry, there's no choice that can't be undone."

I'm a holy terror in a restaurant. I eyeball and dissect every possibility. I'm usually the last to order so I can see what everyone else ordered because obviously their choices are going to be better than mine. I torture myself and the wait staff: suppose I order this (and I don't like it) or that (and someone gets something better)? What if I daringly order a house-special cocktail and I really hate it instead of going with something safe, like a glass of Malbec?

Now take that food-ordering mentality and make it macro.

What if I mess up? What if I make the wrong decision? What if I disappoint myself and someone else? What if I make a choice and people stop loving me or leave me?

Here's the beautiful thing about having a relationship with the Holy One of Blessing: Unle…