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.    
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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!

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Friday, March 09, 2018

Rule #1: Don't Panic

The purpose of this email is to ask and answer ultimate questions at the Shabbat table. Please print and share (+ like it, tweet it, forward).
Pesach-handsAt a certain climax in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, we learn that the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is.... "forty-two".

But that begs the question: What's that the answer to?

So in the story, the supercomputer Deep Thought runs an experiment to solve this problem. The experiment is called Earth, another supercomputer, comprised of people who will collectively reveal the answer (meaning, the question whose answer is 42).

Unfortunately, five minutes before the supercomputer-called-Earth is going to finally reveal the solution, the planet is destroyed by the Vogons in order to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

Therefore - if you're still with me - the
hyper-intelligent (and rather evil) mice need to quickly invent an answer (which is really the question) because they're about to go on the air on a talk show with everybody watching. So after some debate, they decide that the question (whose answer is 42) would most plausibly be: "How many roads must a man walk down?"

Now why am I telling you all this?

Two days ago, our son was at a Torah class where the rabbi quoted the 20th Century Chassidic classic, Nesivos Shalom. The author - the Slonimer Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Noach Berezovsky zt”l - interprets the 42 stages of the Israelites in the wilderness as symbolic of the 42 paths a person walks in a lifetime.


But now for your table: What's more flabbergasting, that Douglas Adams somehow channeled the Nesivos Shalom? Or that we have 42 paths to walk in our lifetime?

It may be hard for you to concentrate right now because you are so preoccupied with preparing for Pesach.

Just in case you are not feeling enough anxiety, your second question for the table is, How many days until Pesach?

I sense that the question makes you uncomfortable, so we have updated the website with a Passover countdown-clock:

Rule #1 in using the clock: Don't panic.

All that you have to do is laugh a bit.

And a little bit more.

And then ask yourself, "How many paths have I walked until now?"

Shabbat Shalom

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Friday, March 02, 2018

Happy Windsday (?)

The purpose of this email is to turn things upside-down at the Shabbat table. Please print and share (+ like it, tweet it, forward).
Fallen treeYou may have heard about these tremendous winds on the East Coast today.

Major trees down. Power flickering.

This is a classic case of forest v. trees.

If there's a flood, some people say, "Woe is me!"

Others react, "What a great opportunity to replace that floor!"

When the power goes out in the middle of your work, some people say, "Oy, how am I going to work?"

Others say, "What a great opportunity to take a break!"

Question 1 for your table: When the wind is strong enough to blow trees down, what do you say?

Question 2 for your table: What's your favorite optimist quote?

(Here is one of mine:
"You can't make an omeletet without breaking eggs.")

Shabbat Shalom

PS - Some people make a bracha on strong winds - can you guess which one?

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