Friday, July 13, 2018

Cure for Boredom

The purpose of this blog is to eradicate all boredom from the Shabbat table. Please share.
In memory of Dovid ben Eliezer A"H.

Dad-2003As I mentioned last week ("My Father's Keeper"), this week we honored my father's 13th yahrzeit.

One activity was a family outing that required a whole hour's drive.

Try to remember what that was like when you were eight years old.

On the way there, you are brimming with anticipation.

On the way home, you are writhing with boredom.

Sure enough, in the middle of the return trip, our eight-year-old began the "Abba, I'm bored" routine.

I tried ignoring her for a few minutes, but that didn't work.

So I fought fire with fire: "How bored are you?"

This question led to everyone competing to come up with a funny ending to the sentence, "I'm so bored, I'd rather..."

My daughter finally got into the spirit: "I'm so bored I'd rather watch paint dry! I'm so bored I'd rather watch a tree grow!"

We all laughed with her, and while I had no idea how she came up with these lines, the ruse worked. We used boredom to fight boredom.

That's the secret: stay busy.

It reminds me of my father, who never stopped being busy. He was always doing something meaningful, whether creating, mending, reparing, relaxing or - one of his favorite - learning. He was focused.

Personally, one of the things that keeps me busy and focused year-round is my goal of completing a tractate of the Talmud (Gemara) in his honor on each yahrzeit.

This year's tractate was Shavuot - Oaths, which ends with an interesting question.

It goes without saying a lie (or swearing falsely) in order to avoid paying someone what is owed to them is sinful.

But what if there is no victim? What if the falsehood or false oath harms no one - or what if it is to the oath-taker's own detriment? Is that considered sinful?

The Gemara concludes that indeed it is.

This is the ethic: distance yourself from falsehood. The entire Torah rests on the principle of Truth. Truth is God's middle name (so to speak).

The old friends of my father who were gathered for this event concurred that Truth could also have been his middle name.

Later, in the spirit of truth, I asked her how she had come up with those answers. She quickly turned to the pages in a Beverly Clearly where she'd read them. Busy and focused.

This week, the POTUS has proposed to the American people that we be judged by kavanah (Cavanaugh).

That's another way of saying how busy and focused you are (as opposed to being lazy and distracted).

Did you ever notice how most people will sit in the airport or stand in a line for hours without anything to do.

Aren't you people bored?

In contrast, there is a rabbi I know who opens the Talmud whenever there is extra time - even waiting at a red light.

Don't waste a moment of your life! Be like my father and stay busy and focused on something meaningful.

Shabbat Shalom

PS - If you're struggling with focus, click on the pic above.

Please visit our new . . .

Enjoyed this Table Talk? Vote with your fingers! Like it, tweet, forward it....

Friday, July 06, 2018

My Father's Keeper?

The purpose of this blog is to create some new narratives at the Shabbat table. Please share.
In memory of Dovid ben Eliezer A"H.
Dennis SeinfeldThis coming Sunday night will be the 13th yahrzeit of my father.

My father did not live to be an old man. He died quite young after falling off a ladder, preparing the house for our family's visit.

I sometimes wonder, had he lived to be an old man, what kind of old man would he have been?

Perhaps he would have been like my late friend Norman Hansen. I knew Norman  in his 80s and into his 90s. He was a riot. One of my favorite line: "The greatest mistake of my life was voting for Roosevelt in 1944. I should have known he was too sick!"

He was a widower and lonely, and before he met me he had very few people to talk to, so he used to make cassette recordings of himself arguing a thesis, then play it back and argue with himself.

When he found out that I am Jewish, he gave me one of his recordings, entitled, "Why there will never be a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict."

Bottom line: Norman's reasoning was that peace is not compatible with "truth".

If you stick to your truth and I stick to mine, how can we ever have peace?

Therefore, while some people pursue peace, most pursue their truth.

The question for your table is, was Norman right? Are truth and peace compatible, or are they mutually exclusive?

It would be interesting if both parties said, we're willing to compromise on our version of truth so that we can have peace. But more often you hear people jettison the entire concept of truth. There is no truth, there are just "competing narratives".

This narratives approach is convenient because it protects you from every being wrong. "I'm not wrong, I just have a different narrative. And therefore my claim is as legitimate as yours."

Fortunately, there are some sane intellectuals out there, such as UK journalist Melanie Phillips, who haven't forsaken the age-old concept of truth.

But what about peace?

Was Norman right, that peace between such people can never come about peacefully?

My father would have appreciated Phillips's argument. He was a truth-seeker. His tombstone says, "Champion of Justice." His his mind, true peace can only come when there is justice.

What say you and the folks at your table?

Shabbat Shalom

PS - Please visit our new . . .

Enjoyed this Table Talk? Vote with your fingers! Like it, tweet, forward it....

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Ultimate Gadget

The purpose of this blog is to create some bells and whistles around the Shabbat table. Please share.
MachineThis week's lead question for your table is about your fantasies:

What for you would be the ultimate gadget?

Would it be something like this picture on the left, which I have no idea what it was built for but I like to fantasize that you could just pour in the flour, water, tomatoes, olive oil, spices, toppings, and after a few minutes of whirring and purring, out pops a pizza! Would that be cool, or would that be cool?

Or would your ultimate gadget be something magically musical, like the incredible Wintergaten Music Machine?

Last week my family reminded me that it was my birthday and my brother's family presented me with a pen.

Not a fancy gold or silver or mahogany pen mind you.

This is billed as the "Ultimate Geek Pen". Here's a photo. It includes 3 different lamps (can you guess which types?), and a couple other features.

So now I finally know how they see me.

OK, so the obvious follow-up question is, now that you've asked everyone at the table to share their ultimate gadget - why?

Why is a pizza machine better than simply making a pizza?

Why is a swiss army knife better than carrying all those tools separately? After all, you can't possibly get all the tools you need into any one gadget.

Wouldn't a well-stocked workbench be far better than an ultimate gadget?

I'll leave you to ponder that one with your table, and in the meantime wish you

and yours


Shabbat Shalom

PS - If you're traveling with your Ultimate Gadget, remember to pack it in your luggage so it doesn't get confiscated by the TSA....
PPS - If you have binoculars or a simple telescope, and can get away from the city lights, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn and Neptune are all quite visible. It's fun to see the 4 biggest moons of Jupiter, Saturn's rings, Mars's colors, and the Moon's craters.
PPPS - Please visit our new . . .

Enjoyed this Table Talk? Vote with your fingers! Like it, tweet, forward it....

As always, this message can be read online at

Friday, June 15, 2018

Who... nu?

The goal of this blog is to bring something new (or some nu?) to your Shabbat Table. Please share / like / tweet / etc.

who+knewIf you ask the man-on-the street, "Who's buried in Grant's tomb?" what do they say?

What about this one: "Where's the Great Pacific Garbage Patch located?"

OK, those are warm-up questions for your table. Let's try this one out on your average Jewish school graduate:

1. How many books of Tanach are there?

Many literate Jews will accurately say 24.

But then ask:

Can you name them?

I'm guessing that 1 in 10 you ask - regardless of their Jewish affiliation or background, can name all 24 (even out of order).

Of those 1 in 10, I'm guessing it's another 90 percent reduction to those who can answer this:

Who wrote each one?

The reason this is such a tricky question is not because modern scholarship has thrown its shadow of doubt over everything traditional.

The problem is that even according to tradition, many of the authors are counter-intuitive.

For example, according to the Talmud, the prophet Isaiah didn't write Isaiah and Queen Esther did not write Esther.

So nu? Who?

If you really want to know, shoot me an email and I'll send you the complete list.

But on a slightly related topic, I created a second interesting document that you might enjoy - it's a list of so-called secular subjects that are discussed in the Talmud, and where - including:

  • General Science
  • Astronomy
  • Environmental Science
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine
  • Physics
  • Paleontology
  • Language Arts
  • Statistics
  • Mathematics
  • Geography
  • History
  • Economics
  • Real Estate
Again, if this sort of stuff interests you, or there is someone you'd like to share it with, shoot me an email and I'll send you the doc.

But for your table, I'll leave you with this question:

Is knowledge of these things (the books of Tanach, who wrote them, the range of wisdom of the Talmud), an important part of being a literate Jew?

Shabbat Shalom
PS - If you haven't already, please visit . . . And kindly "like" and "tweet" and all that stuff.

Friday, June 01, 2018

A Man, a Plan, a Canal . . .

The goal of this email is to bring some reorientation to your Shabbat Table. Plea
In memory of my grandparents, global travelers, who's yahrzeits were just observed.
Happy birthday to Kyle in California. Bon Voyage to Harmon in Panamá.


Sailing the CanalReceived a call from our daughter Goldy this morning. Her year-in-Israel program has taken them to Poland for a few days. They are having a visceral experience seeing where their ancestors lived and where their distant cousins were slaughtered. She said it is the single most meaningful activity of her entire year abroad.
Later in the day, a call came in from the other side of the globe, Panama.

Our friend Harmon just passed through the Canal to begin another great sailboat race.

And thinking about these two calls from opposite sides of the globe representing two opposite orientations, got me thinking about.... the globe and orientation.

And thinking about the globe and orientation reminded me of one of my favorite trivia questions....

For your table:

If you are heading through the Panama Canal from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, which direction are you facing?

The answer is completely counter-intuitive and most peopel don't believe it until they look at a map.

Harmon has a passion for sailing, but one would in no way call it an addiction.

But could a person become addicted to sailing?

Here's question #2 for your table:

2. What would you suppose is the most common addiction?

I'l give you a hint: it's rarely diagnosed.

If you were Chinese, you might say smoking.

In China, there are about three hundred million smokers (some report 350M), blissfully unaware that cigarettes are killing about one million of them every year.

(And a state-owned monopoly profits from every puff.)

Step back and look at the big picture - over a billion smokers worldwide and killing about seven million every year - that's about nineteen thousand per day.

In other words, there are as many adults dying from cigarettes as there are kids dying from malnutrition (or surviving it and living a stunted life).

But smoking doesn't even come close to the world's biggest addiction.

(Remember, it's rarely diagnosed.)

Maybe mentioning malnutrition will trigger someone to guess food addiction, and they'll have a point - it's certainly an epidemic in so many place. There's even a World Obesity homepage (

Yet as bad as that sounds, it isn't the biggest addiction.

It might be easier to answer if we follow Pirkei Avot which states: When seeking wisdom, begin by defining your terms.

So.... what does "addiction" mean?

Habit? Dependency?

How about this:

Addiction is a primary, chronic dysfunction of brain reward, motivation and memory....leading to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations, reflected in pursuing reward and/or relief by unhealthy or undesired behaviors.

That's an abbreviated version of the ASAM definition. According to the American Psychiatric Association:

Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence.

What I'm going to suggest is that one of the most addictive behaviors I have seen, that is never diagnosed as an addiction, is complaining.

Some people's habit of complaining seems to me to fit these broad definitions of addiction.

Take the APA definition and substitute "complaining" for "substance abuse".

The final questions for your table are:

3. Does it fit?

The answer depends: does a person's habitual and relentless habit of complaining have harmful consequences?

4. If you are a complaining person, where does that come from?

5. If you are on the other end of that complaint, how are you supposed to respond that will actually be helpful?

Shabbat Shalom

PS - Please visit . . . And kindly "like" and "tweet" and all that stuff.

Enjoyed this Table Talk? Vote with your fingers! , forward it....

Friday, May 18, 2018

Galactic Torah

Announcement - I'm happy to announce a new JSL product - a unique bar/bat mitzvah gift — a customized book that details the chain of Tradition from Moses to the bar or bat mitzvah child. Please see and share the link with everyone.
the-chance-to-be-unlimited.jpg?timestamp=1512417797Imagine a project at Harvard to convene the greatest scholars in every field over a period of several hundred years in order to create an encyclopedia of their collective knowledge. Who wouldn't want to see the final product?

This is the Talmud: a unique collection of wisdom that would surprise experts in any discipline, including law, ethics, psychology and economics. In the realm of cosmology, too, the Talmud makes assertions -- sometimes literal, sometimes metaphoric, and sometimes both.

To give one example, consider the Talmudic estimate of the number and distribution of stars in the universe.

In order to appreciate this passage, bear in mind two things. First, the vast bulk of Talmudic wisdom is claimed to be a transmitted tradition, from Moses to Joshua, to the prophets, to the Elders, to the Great Assembly, and then to a chain of scholars until the completion of the Talmud 1,500 years ago. Hence it is called the Oral Law.

Second, we need to appreciate the limitations of science 1,500 years ago: the telescope was invented in the 16th century, and the number of stars visible to the naked eye is approximately 9,000.

So what did these ancient rabbis say about the number of stars? In Tractate Brachot, page 32b, the Talmud records a tradition, in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, that there are roughly 1018 stars in the universe. This number is remarkably big and much closer to the current scientific consensus of 1022 than common sense would allow.

Now, although it is interesting for an ancient people to have such a large estimate, this single coincidence could perhaps be explained as an extremely lucky guess. Never mind that no other ancient people had an estimate anywhere near this order of magnitude, nor did they have a conventional way to write such a number. (I have queried dozens of astronomers and none could identify a single other ancient culture with remotely similar numbers.)

Multiple Patterns

However, the Talmud relates more than a raw number. The passage explains that the distribution of stars throughout the cosmos is neither even nor random. Rather, it states that they are clustered in groups of billions of stars (what we call galaxies), which themselves are clustered into groups (what astronomers call galactic clusters), which in turn are in mega-groups (what we call superclusters).

To describe the stars as clustered together, both locally and in clusters of clusters, was far beyond the imagination and the telescopes of scientists until Edwin Hubble's famous photographs of Andromeda in the 1920s. Galactic clusters and superclusters have been described only in the past decade or so. Moreover, the Talmud states that the number of galaxies in a cluster is about 30. And by coincidence, astronomers today set the number of galaxies in our own local cluster at about 30!1

Further, the Talmud adds that the superclusters consist of about 30 clusters each, and that superclusters are themselves grouped into a bigger pattern of about 30 (megasuperclusters?) of which the universe has a total of about 360. Thus, the Talmud appears consistent with one major theory that the overall structure of the universe is shaped by the rules of fractal mathematics. I've shown this data to numerous astronomers around the world and the consensus are pure astonishment.

Could it be that Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish made an extremely lucky guess? That might be plausible if he had used a number that had symbolic significance in Judaism, such as seven, 10, 18 or 40. What is the significance of the number 30? To my knowledge, there is no spiritual or religious reason for choosing that number. It therefore seems to be exactly what it claims to be: a conscientious oral transmission of a received tradition, rather than simply one person's guesstimate.

Moreover, Rabbi Shimon had a reputation for impeccable honesty; it is unthinkable that he would have invented these numbers or guessed without telling us so. The clear intent of the passage is to convey an oral tradition.
You are now in on the secret of Shavuot: There is something special about the Torah (and rumors of its demise have been greatly exaggerated!). The Torah is much more than a mere "cultural expression" of one tiny group of ancient people, so numerically small that we reminded Mark Twain of a "nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way."

This passage about the stars is a mere five Talmudic lines, itself about as significant as a puff of star dust. But it also hints to the treasures available to those who seek them. Shavuot is a great time to begin.

1 This was true several years ago when this article was first written. Since then, astronomers have discovered “ultra-faint” dwarf galaxies in our local group, so the official number of galaxies in our group is presently 54. Some of these are not clearly “galaxies”, such as Andromeda VIII; some are visible to the naked eye while others are invisible to all but the best telescopes. The term “local group” was coined by astronomer Edwin Hubble in 1936 and originally included 12 galaxies. It is interesting to note that astronomers now recognize that 31 of these “local group” galaxies are satellites of our Milky Way galaxy: Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy, Large Magellanic Cloud, Small Magellanic Cloud, Canis Major Dwarf, Ursa Minor Dwarf, Draco Dwarf, Carina Dwarf, Sextans Dwarf, Sculptor Dwarf, Fornax Dwarf, Leo I, Leo II, Leo IV, Leo V, Leo T, Ursa Major I Dwarf, Ursa Major II Dwarf, Boötes II, Coma Berenices, Segue 2, Hercules, Pisces II, Reticulum II, Eridanus II, Gurs, Tucana II, Horologium, Pictoris, Phoenix II, Indus, Eridanus III. (I have excluded Boötes III because its galactic status is in doubt, as well as the nine ultra-faint galaxies discovered in March, 2015.) The exact number is less interesting to me than the fractal pattern described in the Talmud is exactly what we observe through the telescope.

Shabbat Shalom

and Happy Shavuot

PS - Please don't forget to visit . . . If you blog, please considering adding this link to your website. If you facebook, how about sharing the link?

Enjoyed this Table Talk? Vote with your fingers! Like it, tweet, forward it....

Friday, May 11, 2018

Teens, Tears, Cheers & Fears

The purpose of this post is to take a new look at this entire teen thing, inside and out.
In honor of my wonderful mom, may she be well until 120!

watching eyeQuestion for your table: Who is watching whom the most?

Parents watching kids? Or kids watching parents?

Does it depend on the age of the kids?

We know that babies and toddlers watch their parents intently.

But parents also watch their babies and toddlers intently.

What about teens?

Does the role-modeling phase ended at adolesence?

Is being a teenager more about rebellion than about imitation?

I would suggest to you that it's still all about imitation - but now with more circumspection.

Translation: count on them to imitate what you do, not what you say.

If you have a teen at the Shabbat table, ask him or her, "Do I (parent) ever fail to practice what I preach?"

I guarantee you that they will immediately be able to come up with at least one example.

Try applying this insight to my previous post - technology use.

We say, "Limit your time" yet if we don't limit our own time....

If we say, please leave your phone in the kitchen overnight, but we take our own to bed . . . definitey going to follow the action, not the words.

But it applies to everything.

You want your teen to say "Please" and "Thank you" every time? Are you saying it every time?

You want your teen to smile when walking in the room - do you??

You want your teen to be calm and happy and less worried and anxious - are you?

You want your teen to say more positive things and less negative things. How are you doing on this?

Shabbat Shalom

and Happy Mother's Day
Enjoyed this Table Talk? Vote with your fingers! Like, tweet, forward it....

Friday, April 20, 2018

Teens, Tech & Parents: 10 Truths and 4 Suggestions

The purpose of this blog is to generate some empathy for teenagers - and their parents. (Please like it, tweet it, forward).
Happy Birthday to our son Avramy who is finally able to go buy his old man a bottle of wine!

smart phone, lazy brainLast week was the first of a series about our wonderful teens, inspired by the new book Step Into My Shoes.

This week, a few thoughts about this smartphone.

I was tempted to title this email, "Smart Phone, Lazy Brain".

Do you fight or give in?

This is on my mind because we gave one of our teens a phone last week.

Did we give in?

Before you answer, consider the following truths that I personally believe to be true:

1. Phone addiction is real and a real problem.
2. The developing brain of a child (including teen) is more subceptible to addiction than that of an adult.
3. A good nights' sleep matters very much to the happiness and success of every teenager.
4. Teenagers do not always know what's best for themselves nor act in their own self-interest.
5. What parents do is even more important than what they say.
6. In some ways, smart phones are actually making us dumber.
7. Having a smart phone increases stress and anxiety.
8. The smartphone is not a passing fad; our children will be using them the rest of their lives.
9. You only have one chance to raise a child.
10. Loving your child means always doing what you judge is best for them, even if its hard.

PS - If the above links haven't focused your attention, try these two short videos: this and this.

Based on these truths, here are four possible parental interventions to consider:

1. Family rule - everyone (parents included) leaves phone in a different room during meal time.
2. Family rule - everyone (yes everyone) leaves phone in kitchen at bedtime.
3. Family rule - everyone's phone has age-appropriate time limits and scheduled time-outs. These can be easily set up with

4. Family rule - everyone's phone has parental controls on what apps can be installed and what websites visited. Mother has father's password, father has mother's, and parents have kids'.

This week's question for your table: If you are a smart parent and implementing some or all of the above, what do you say in response to, "But no one does that!" or "But everyone has that!" ???

Shabbat Shalom

Enjoyed this Table Talk? Vote with your fingers! Like it, tweet it, forward it....

Friday, April 13, 2018

Step Into (Not Onto) My Shoes

The purpose of this blog is to generate some sympathy for teenagers - and their parents. (Please like it, tweet it, forward).
Step Into My Shoes bookTalked to a teenager lately?

Ever been aggravated by one?

This post may be for you.

First, the book on the left.

Just published by two mothers, it is a refreshing, inspired, inspiring, pragmatic (and well-written) read for anyone looking for a Jewish approach to parenting a teen.

(Please click on the image to see it on Amazon.)

Second, on that theme, here's a true story you could try sharing at your dinner table tonight, with 3 questions.

This morning someone mentioned that they are taking their son to their temple's mandatory Bnai Mitzvah Shabbat retreat.

Sounded fun until he mentioned that the son has less than zero interest in attending.

So why are they going?

Well, "mandatory" means that if you don't attend, they cancel your bar mitzvah.

First question for your table - Is this a case of laudable hardball rabbi-ing, or is it an "oy va-voy"?

I asked, "Does he want to have the bar mitzvah?"

"Oh yes, he does."

"What does that mean to him?"

"Well, I'm not sure he's going to be ready to read from the Torah, so I don't know. I guess it's mainly the party."

Second question for your table: Should we force our teens to do things they don't want to do? Or should they be able to pick and choose? Is this one of those times?

So I said, "What about creating a super meaningful backyard bar mitzvah at the time of your choosing (and not when it fits the Temple calendar)?"
Many people don't know that an at-home bar mitzvah can be perfectly kosher (sometime even more kosher). And probably saves money too.

Question 3: If someone could have a more enjoyable, perfectly kosher, 100% meaningful bar mitzvah at home, is there a downside?

(I've personally run a few of these, they were wonderful and as far as I know, there were no regrets.)

Today's Table Talk is the first in a series on the subject of our wonderful teens and parenting them.

Next week, the smart phone edition.

In the meantime,

Shabbat Shalom

Enjoyed this Table Talk? Vote with your fingers! Like it, tweet it, forward it....

Friday, March 30, 2018

Rule #3: Think, Then Feel

The purpose of this blog is to help you focus your thoughts for Pesach. (Please like it, tweet it, forward).
daffodilWhy is this email different from all other emails?

First, because it has a picture of a daffodil - which popped up today, just in time for the only holiday in the Torah that is defined by a season (i.e., spring) (Exodus 23:15).

Second, because you're in a big hurry and don't have time to read this.

Third, to save you time, I've made a 6-minute video to watch or listen to while you are rushing around in your Pesach prep:

Fourth, because in the Afikomen-spirit, it actually contains a hidden question that you can ask at your table... can you find it?

Shabbat Shalom


Happy Pesach!

(See you in a couple weeks.)
 PS - Missed Rule #1 + #2? Click here and here.    
Enjoyed this Table Talk? Vote with your fingers! Like it, tweet it, forward it...

Friday, March 23, 2018

Rule #2: The Four Weapons

The purpose of this blog is to inspire you to click some links, and then do some numerology Shabbat table. Please print and use and share (+ like it, tweet it, forward).
Mazal tov to 3 bnei mitzvah in SF: Chaim Shragge, Luke BloomKing and Spencer Mosson! May you go from strength to strength.

AofAHaggada2017By now everyone knows how many days until Passover, right?

But we're not panicking, right?
Here are four weapons to arm you for an amazing Passover:

A. If you are within shouting distance of San Francisco next Monday, please join me for a special evening - social and intellectual - including a class, "When Elijah Knocks". Reply for details.

B. Get a free copy of our "10 Tips and Tricks for Making an Amazing Seder"  - shoot me an email.

C. #2 is an excerpt from the Art of Amazement Haggada - order one now.

D. As I try to send every year, here is the updated list of great Seder gifts, props and paraphernalia (had to spell-check that):

1. Let's start with food:
Round (hand-made) maztah
Whole wheat square matzah
Yehuda Matzos
Matzo Meal (yes that's how they spell it)

2. Seder-related props, toys, games:
Start with a Pharaoh Hat and staff (or the tall one).
Make sure you stock props for the 10 Plagues
(This is new, haven't tested it yet - the Rite Lite Can of Plagues)
(Martha Stewart's interesting idea of a bag of plagues for each person.)
(Whaddya think -  edible plagues?)
The Passover Bingo cards will keep them engaged at the table.
Any energetic teens at the table? Try a set of Juggling Matzah Balls

AKLIB - All Kids Love Israeli Bazooka gum
Get the Passover Memory Game

3. Other great Seder prizes:

Puzzles - This year, I'm going to try these as thanks-for-participating Seder gifts for all ages - the Passover connection is that the Seder - like life - is a puzzle, and if it isn't challenging, it isn't satisfying. According to the effort is the reward does't mean we reward you for your effort, it means that the deep enjoyment of the activity is proportional to the effort. So check out these really cool puzzles:
Level 2:
Level 3:
Level 4:
Level 5:

Level 7
The reviewers all say the Enigma is maddenly challenging and will take a smart person days to solve. I'm going to show it and announce that whoever can solve the lower level puzzles gets to try it.
4. Books:

Artscroll Youth Haggada - great illustrations for all ages
The Un-Haggadah - keep the Seder conversation flowing
Escape From Seville - Riveting - great for teens and young adults
Seder in Herlin - early teens
Seder Night Miracle (out of print, hard to find but worth it if you can)
Touch of Passover - board book
What Do You See on Pesach? - board book
If You Give a Frog a Piece of Matzah - kids

The Mouse in the Matzah Factory - kids
Only Nine Chairs: A Tall Tale for Passover

Zaidy's Great Idea - audio CD
Toward a Meaningful Mood - Turning Your Dark Moments into Light

And here's the question for your table tonight: 
Ever notice how the number 4 keeps popping up in the Seder (and in this post)? Why is that?

Shabbat Shalom


Happy Pesach!

Enjoyed this Table Talk? Vote with your fingers! Like it, tweet it, forward it....