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Showing posts from April, 2014

The Only Stupid Question: #blogExodus - Day 9 - #ask

No, it's not Einstein's quote. No one knows who coined the phrase, "The only stupid question is the one that didn't get asked." And pretty much everyone had at least one teacher who pronounced this statement.

But really, it's not true. That's because there are a lot of people who swear they want to hear what you have to ask but them dismiss you and your questions as trivial or interruptive or off point or annoying. They give you the look, and everyone knows what that look feels like. So we go off feeling like we're idiots or incompetents or the like. And then we don't ask any more questions and invariably wind up using the wrong recipe or IKEA directions and we all know where that gets us.

Here's a radical idea for this Passover: ask questions. Don't worry about what someone else is going to think; just ask. Ask for help, ask for a hug, ask to take a nap, ask for someone else to clean the dishwasher or clear the table. If you don't kno…

The Wrong "5th" Question: #blogExodus - Day 8 - #Learn

Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah said, "Behold: I am like a seventy-year-old man, yet I never understood why we tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt at night until Ben Zoma explained it, saying ... ("The Open Door: A Passover Haggadah," CCAR, p. 35)

When do we eat? (supposed 5th Passover question)

I used to get into hideous trouble when my Uncle Fred, z"l, who led my childhood seders, asked if anyone had any questions along the path of the seder. I did. And I got dirty looks and muttered curses from family members who wanted to move this thing along so we could get back to Brooklyn from Long Island before dawn the next day.

That may be why I eagerly anticipate the paragraph about Eleazar ben Azaria more than any other in the Haggadah. A brilliant young scholar, 16 or 18 depending on the version, the only thing he lacked to be considered a great sage was age and experience. Miraculously - or so the story goes - overnight he developed gray hair and a long gray beard, fina…

#blogexodus - 2 Nisan - Tell

It's not quite what Vonda Shepard and Bert Russell Berns had in mind, but it's the basic theme of Passover and the essence of our Jewish survival. 

"Tell him, tell him, tell him, tell him right now."

Repeatedly we are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus: to our children, to each other, to ourselves, to the world. Too many of us are afraid that we don't know the story, that we'll get it wrong, or that we'll bring too much negative attention to ourselves. We are embarrassed that we don't know. 

But here's the great thing and the wonderful reality: we don't have to know the story by heart in order to tell it; we have the Haggadah to guide us at our seder(s), and we have books of every variety and Jewish theology to help us out. We don't have to make it up and we don't have to be experts. We have rabbis and cantors and teachers and friends and - heaven help us - the internet. Help is out there. 

We tell our story because it's a wond…

#blogexodus - 1 Nisan - Believe

Since Passover is all about physical and spiritual preparation, I am grateful that my colleague Ima on (and off) the Bimah has encouraged us to blog, tweet, FB post, etc. about our Exodus journey. I hope you'll join me.

I believe that there is a power greater than myself. I believe that nothing gets done without risk and sometimes having to say "no." I believe that prayer has power beyond anything I understand.