Friday, November 27, 2015


The goal of this blog is to invite angels to the Shabbat table. Please print and share.

BJ and friendsJust about every year somebody asks about the Jewishness of Thanksgiving.

For example, the funny coincidence that "hodu" in Hebrew means both turkey and "give thanks".

To add to that interesting detail, a friend in Jerusalem sent us a fascinating article by CNN's Charles Garcia.

Evidently, Columbus himself may have been one of Spain's (or Portugal's) tragic secret Jews.

For this year's installment, I'd like to share a personal note of thanksgiving.

As you may know, every week I study Jewish wisdom with individuals and groups around the country, both live and long-distance.

Today, I surprised my phone-study partners with a guest-voice from the past.

The voice was none other than the legendary Billy Joe Ferguson, whom you read about a few weeks ago.

After more than a decade, he finally paid our family a visit, driving 1,000 miles in his pickup.

The reason I brought him to the phone study session is because these two study partners had met him many years ago.

Despite the many years, they instantly recognized his inimitable Mississippi drawl.

One of them, who had visited our home a few weeks ago, warned him: "If (5-year-old) Tehila challenges you to any game that involves skill, do not take her on."

Well, he failed to heed that advice. The results were not pretty.

But remember how unusual this man is.

This is a man who has spent very little time in his life outside the 600 square miles of Carroll County, Mississippi.

This is a man who is so dedicated to his students that in 28 years as a classroom teacher he called in sick only once, and that bothered him so much that he dragged himself out of bed for a school event that night.

He is so dedicated that he ran for Superintendent on a platform to improve the schools and won by a whisker, then the enemies of the public schools through him out four years later and replaced him with a woman who was so incompetent that over 10 years later he is still trying to undo the damage she wreaked.

He is so dedicated that after that defeat, rather than pack, he fought back and won re-election four years after that, and four years after that, and four years after that.

And this is a man who still farms 100 acres as a hobby. And he's still looking for his bashert.

As you can see in the photo, seeing his face is almost like seeing an angelic being.

As he was departing last night, the Thanksgiving guests of our neighbors across the street were also heading out. One of these guests approached the truck to speak with him literally as he was about to the pickup into gear. It turns out that while unloading the night before, in the darkness he had left a small bag sitting on the truck's saddlebox.

This lady, not knowing whose truck it was, had been so concerned that the bag would be stolen, she moved it beneath the saddlebox, out of sight. Angel meets angel?

So as he journies back to his homestead, we are greatful for such friendship and goodness that can be found in such an out-of-the way place the world hasn't yet heard of called Vaiden, Mississippi.

Question for your table: Do you know any angels?

Shabbat Shalom

PS - Now's the real Hannuka countdown... (so hurry up and click here.)

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