Thursday, September 24, 2009


I know of several people who are terribly ill right now. This week’s TT is dedicated to them all. Please consider printing this page to share at the dinner table tonight.

+ + +

There is this story, it’s a little hard to believe it’s true, but still a good story for the season….

So this couple are going on vacation to Florida. George and Louise. Only Louise has a crisis at work and has to delay her trip by a day. George goes down as scheduled and that evening sends her a quick email from the hotel computer.

The problem is that in his haste, he mistyped her address. Instead of he wrote

By an amazing coincidence, louise43 ALSO had a husband named George, who had passed away just the day before. When she received the email from a “George” she was shocked but when she read the email she fainted. Out cold.

His email read:

“My darling wife – Arrived safely, everything fine and prepared for your arrival tomorrow. xoxo George. PS – sure is hot down here!”

+ + + +

Why is this a Rosh Hashana / Yom Kippur story?

Because it’s healthy for us to remind ourselves once a year that the end could be at any time. Literally. We all know people who passed away suddenly. Could happen to anyone.

Once a year, justify why you deserve another year of life.

The fasting on Yom Kippur is supposed to help us concentrate.

Q for your table
: How do you concentrate when you’re hungry?

My answer: you can’t, until about 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. At that point, you get beyond the huger and thirst. You transcend your body, as it were.

Then you can truly get in touch with that inner self that we call “soul.”

My recommendation, for a Yom Kippur that will really stick….The 1-2-3 method:

1, Get in the mood by saying “sorry” to everyone especially your family, forgiving everyone else, and giving tzedaka. (The idea of tzedaka is generosity. This includes, but is not limited to, giving money.)

2, Before Sunday night, identify a single personality trait that you know you could fix if you really tried – impatience, lateness, laziness, anger, jealousy, you know which one.

3, On YK afternoon, close to sunset, make a commitment to work on it for 5 minutes a day. That’s all it takes. But you have to put in the 5 minutes. That means really really really committing to it. Really.

1: Apologies and tzedaka
2. ID the personality trait
3. Make the 5 min/day commitment. (you can email me for suggested readings)

If you want it, you can get it. But you have to really want it.

And how do you tell if you had a good Yom Kippur? By how you behave the next day.

It’s hard work. Really hard. But it’s the best way to break out of our shells and to start living on a higher plane.

Shabbat Shalom

PS -

“If Not Higher” is a classic Yiddish story by I L Peretz. Worth printing and sharing with anyone, young or old, who enjoys being inspired. Here’s the link.

Also includes an audio link there if you prefer to listen or download to your ipod.

Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential. - Churchill

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thank You

This is to wish you and yours the sweetest, most successful, beautiful year ever.

Yom Kippur is easy – fast, regret, say you’re sorry.

Rosh Hashana is hard – what are you supposed to think about?

A: Dream big – really big!

Believe in yourself.

Believe in your potential.

Believe in what you could accomplish.

Believe in what you could overcome.

Believe in the relationships you could fix.

Believe in the good you could do.

And be happy. Give yourself permission to be happy.

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova

PS… If you did not receive this year’s completely revised and expanded “24 Questions for Rosh Hashana”, click here.

And what would a TT be without a relevant video?

+ + + +

The goal of Table Talk is to give you a conversation-starter for the Friday night dinner table. Please print and share.

+ + + +

If you enjoy this weekly blog, or if you share our goal of a paradigm-shift in Jewish education, please consider becoming a supporting member of JSL with your tax-deductible donation (link). Members receive awesome thank-you gifts and other perks.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

You're Late, You're Late, For a Very Important Date

Dedicated to Batya bat Kayla who is having surgery and needs a speedy recovery.

It's almost Rosh Hashana.... So what?

I am completely revising my 1 page guide, "22 Questions to Think About On Rosh Hashana". The 2009 edition is more meditative, linked to hearing the shofar. It should be ready by Monday or Tuesday. If you would like a copy, send an email.

In the meantime, I recommend the values analysis for you and your table.

Here's how it works:

On a scale of one to five (five being the highest), how important are the following to you? You cannot have more than three 5s or three 4s, and you must have at least two 3s, two 2s and two 1s.

1. Family
2. Being well educated
3. Making a contribution to my community
4. Marriage
5. Spirituality
6. Being well-liked
7. Having a good reputation
8. Financial success
9. Being Jewish
10. Peer recognition in my career or profession.
11. Personal fulfillment\
12. Helping other people
13. Having a good Jewish education
14. Making a contribution to humanity
15. Achieving peace of mind
16. Having children
17. Living in the home of my dreams
18. Acquiring self-knowledge
19. Giving my children a strong Jewish identity
20. Living a long, healthy life.

From Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur Survival Kit by Shimon Apisdorf.
Used with permission.

Here's a light-hearted shofar clip to get you in the mood:

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Figuring Out Rosh Hashana

Dedicated to Chanan Velvel ben Bryna who needs a speedy recovery.

We have had a great response to the live, interactive web-based Rosh Hashana class on Labor Day. The primary topic will be relationships - How RH and YK can be used to fix 'em. Send an email to sign up.

The other day I was visiting a friend who recently moved into a new home.

As I was leaving, stepping outside into the sunshine, a woman happened to be walking down the sidewalk.

“Good morning,” she said.

“Good morning,” my friend said.

“I’m Mrs. So-and-So from across the street.”

“Pleased to meet you…”

“You know, I seem to be locked out of my house. I went for a walk and I think my husband may have locked the dead-bolt. May I possibly use your phone?”


Moral of the story: You can’t choose your neighbors, but you can choose your neighborhood. Some people choose a home based on the house. Others choose to live in a neighborhood with soul-mates around.

(Do you know what I mean by "soul-mates", as opposed to "nice people"?)

If you were reading this blog last year (or even last week and clicked on the video), you heard me make the radical suggestion not to go to synagogue on Rosh Hashana (if going there is not uplifting for you).

Some people thought I was joking. I was not.

Someone objected that if you stay home, you miss out on the social part, the once-a-year chance to feel like you belong to some kind of Jewish community.

Here is your double-header TT question of the week –

1) On a scale of 1-10, how important is the personal spiritual experience of Rosh Hashana?
2) On a scale of 1-10, how important is the social-communal experience?

Don’t tell me they’re equal – Most people have to choose one or the other.

If you would like personalized suggestions on where to go in your community that may nurture both needs, send an email.

If you answered higher than “5” to either question – what are you going to do about it in the coming year (5,770)?

You have exactly 2 weeks to decide.

Shabbat Shalom

PS – Part 2 of the Seinfeld Rosh Hashana series:

Thomas Edison Quote of the Day:
I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.