Friday, December 12, 2008

Split Personality

This week: 3 questions.

Do you ever feel like you have a split personality?

Let’s say you have a sweet tooth. OK, you probably don’t have one, but maybe you know someone who does. This person gets up every morning and declares, “Today I’m not going to eat those sweets! I’m going to stick to my healthy diet!”

And they go to bed each night feeling, “I blew it again! How could I have let myself do that?”

There is a secret to our dual nature.

There were originally 12 tribes in Israel.

Each tribe was like a unique wavelength of color that combine to make the rainbow.

Most Jews today are “Jews” - i.e., from Judah, which means appreciation.

All the tribes together - the full spectrum - is called both “Jacob” (as in children of Jacob) and “Israel” (as in children of Israel).

“Jacob” is the person who is always devising plans, figuring out how to be successful in life. Jacob is often reacting to other people and situations.

“Israel” is the person who is struggling with his or her own self, struggling to master one’s own self-destructive tendencies.

First question for your table
: As an appreciative person, are you more of a “Jacob” or more of an “Israel”?

+ + +

This morning, someone sent me a list of “isn’t it funny” questions. Here are three:

Isn't it funny that $10 seems like a lot when we give tzedaka, but so little when we go shopping?

Isn't it funny how one hour seems so long in shul, and so short when we watch a ball game?

Isn't it funny how readily we forward email jokes and hoaxes, but when we receive something about Judaism or spirituality, we don't
re-send them to anyone?

Second question - a thought-experiment: Try reading the questions first as a “Jacob” then as an “Israel”.

+ + +


Are you tired of all the end-of-the-year fundraising pitches? Donate now, get your tax deduction (as if any of us need one this year!)

Last year at this time, I devoted an entire week’s Table Talk to ask you to support the organization (JSL) that makes Table Talk possible. I suggested 25¢/week as a reasonable level, and many people responded much more generously than that.

This year, I thought it would be interesting for you to have something other than an old-fashioned plea. How about a Chinese auction? But what can I auction that would be meaningful to Table Talk readers? I know, how about a class on Happiness? But would it work? Would people want to bid on happiness? Last week, if you read the blog, I challenged you to do just that – bid on happiness. If you do so, do so with a happy spirit, that you are really showing how much you value getting this email. If you read it from time to time, I assume you value it. Is it worth two-bits a week?

In addition to spending my Friday morning conjuring up “great”, “thought-provoking” “ really nice”, “enjoyable”, “beautiful and touching” stories and questions [actual reader comments] for your spiritual nourishment, I spend the rest of the week bringing Art-of-Amazement type of Judaism to individuals and groups around the country.

Some pay their way and others – notably college students – cannot. We also train teachers both live and via our website,, how to teach the Art-of-Amazement style Judaism. AND we give away (or sell at a loss) thousands of books every year. You should see the kind of feedback we’re getting from readers! We are enabling individuals of all ages to discover a Judaism that works, and helping teachers and parents to transmit a Judaism that works.

By reading this weekly blog, you are part of a national effort to uncover and promote this kind of engaging, down-to-earth, spiritual Judaism.

To close out 2008, I would like to ask you to become my partner in this national effort for 25¢ per week.

To make it fun, here’s the question: How much is happiness worth to you? The highest 20 bids will be invited to a new class (via conference call): “Hannuka and the Secret of the Darkness”.

Every pledge will be thanked with a recording of last year’s Hannuka class: “Hannuka and the Secret of the 36”.

Third question of the week: Is the weekly thought-provoking Table Talk worth a quarter to you?

If so, please use the info below to send in your 2-bits. But if you want, I’ll offer you something on top of partnership just to sweeten the relationship. 25¢ a week comes to 13 bucks a year. If you are willing to double that – 50¢ a week or $26 for the year, I’ll send you a thank you gift that I know you’re going to enjoy. I’ll send you an audio CD of a new class that premiered last August: A Jewish View of the Hinduism and Buddhism. The audience feedback was tremendous.

Please send your tax-deductible donation to:

Jewish Spiritual Literacy, Inc.
3700 Menlo Drive
Baltimore, MD 21215-3620
A 501(c)3 organization.

or via Paypal:

Donated frequent-flyer miles are also a huge help.

If there is an honoree or dedication, please let me know. All gifts will be gratefully acknowledged.

Finally - here’s a short movie that made me smile and I’ll bet it will do the same for you.

Shabbat Shalom

Click here to help rebuild the Chabad House of Mumbai

Other Chabad centers in India are in dire need – email me for details how you can help them

Speaking schedule:

December 25 – Baltimore (Etz Chaim) - “A Spiritual Interpretation of the Economic Crisis”

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