Friday, September 27, 2019

The No-Rush Hushana

The purpose of this blog is to add some sweetness to the Shabbat table... Please print and share.
Happy anniversary shout-out to Kyle and Shelli - We should all learn from and be inspired by your shalom bayit.

RH survival kitSo here it is, just days away.

Have you procured your apples and honey?

What's the rush? You still have Sunday.

The first question for your table:

Why again do we dip apples in honey? Do we really think that dipping apples in honey is going to give us a sweet year? And what does "a sweet year" mean, especially to those of us trying to kick our sugar habit? Is this another example of magical religious thinking?

Since it is the season, once again I would like to offer you:

1. Our Rosh Hashana "Simanim" sheet - traditional foods and blessings for the Rosh Hashana table.
2. Our "25 Questions to Think About from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur" sheet.

For either of these, just click reply and ask!

3. The High Holidays is a time when the most charitable people on Earth increase our tzedaka. If you are a regular or even occasional reader of this email, this is an excellent time to become a partner or renew your partnership. Your partnership supports not only the real costs of this weekly email but also innovative, far-reaching programs like this, this, and this (yes, I know the third one is buggy, that's why we need your help!). Oh, and let's not forget about this groundbreaking new project. Step up to the plate with a tax-deductible donation to JSLI.

Speaking of High Holidays and innovation, this morning the following question came in on the rabbis' email list:

Does anyone have a good way to request congregants not to have their phones on during services? Obviously, we send a request before Yom Tov but there is always that inevitable ring during davening. One year we wrote "please make sure all cell phones are off" (this way we are not asking them to turn it off), but I still feel a bit uncomfortable about it.

Question for your table: What would you advise this rabbi?

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a healthy and happy new year and a meaningful Rosh Hashana.

Shabbat Shalom


L'Shana Tova - May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life!

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Friday, September 20, 2019

The e-Ride of your e-Life?

The purpose of this email is to provide a little assist to the Shabbat table... Please print and share.
ebike displayThis week while in San Francisco, a rare opportunity came my way.... I experienced something truly new (to me).

If you think about it, most of what we do is repetitive. How often do you experience something you've never experienced before?

That's actually OK, I think — practice makes perfect.

Some people are constantly seeking new foods, new flavors, but having a steady, boring diet may be a key to great health.

First question for your table: Can you remember trying something very new that changed your view of the world, or changed your life?

This week, that new thing for me was riding what they are calling an "e-bike" (to see the variety of kinds, click or tap the above image).

Now, this is not "e" as in the model that follows a, b, c and d.

Nor is this "E-Type" (although some of the prices may make you think so).

For the uninitiated, we're talking about an electric bike. Not a moped. What makes these new and special is that the electric motor doesn't kick in if you are not pedaling. It's there to assist you.

So if you're hitting a steep hill, you tap the assist button and suddenly riding up that hill feels like riding on level. It reminds me of the rewalk.

Here's the catch: after about an hour, I started feeling a bit guilty on those inclines, that I wasn't working hard enough. That I was somehow cheating, even though I wasn't in any competition.

Afteralll, unlike the Rewalk and similar products, I didn't need the e-bike. I could have ridden the same route (albeit much slower) with a regular bike.

Question for your table - Is getting an assist when you don't need it "cheating"?

How about giving one?

Shabbat Shalom

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Friday, September 13, 2019

10K or Bust?

The purpose of this blog is to work toward Shabbat table mastery. Please print and share.

10KIn a way, this week's question is an addendum to last week's Back to School Special.

The question is simple:

At what point does a person say, "I've learned enough, I'm ready to play" (or work, or participate - whatever the situation may be)?

For example, imagine you're learning how to be an electrician. How do you know when you're ready to take the Master Electrician Test?

I assume that everyone at your table will agree that the answer is, "When your teacher tells you that you're ready."

If that's the case, what if you don't have a teacher? What if you're learning it on your own?
What if you follow the line (that some are skeptical about), that if you practice something for 10,000 hours, you'll master it.

Is it true?

One summer in college I worked for a temp agency. Every day I was doing some sort of manual labor.

One of the gigs was at a paper factory. Do you know how copy paper comes in a ream (500 sheets), folded into a paper cover?

The job was to take reams of copy paper and fold them into this type of paper cover. That's all I did. For five hours.

With some practice, I was able to fold and tape a ream in about a minute.

The master of the operation was this wiry seventy-year-old guy named Jake. He could package a ream in about five seconds. I kid you not. Watching this man fold paper was like watching Houdini doing a card trick.

And after five hours of listening to it, I'll never forget the sound of his whistle. He whistled the same five-second tune for each ream that he packaged.

I suppose he had had his 10k hours?

But some have argued that quantity of practice is less important than quality, and that we focus on three most important qualities:

1. Create a Feedback Loop - need to know what to fix
2. Deliberate Practice - work very hard on specific skills
3. Become a Teacher - no one learns more than a teacher!

Final question for your table:

What skills do you want to master? Do you agree that qualitative practice is more important than quantitative?

Shabbat Shalom

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Friday, September 06, 2019

Back to School Special

The purpose of this blog is create a "teachable moment" at the Shabbat table. Please print and share.

Great teachersHere's the question on my mind this week, I wonder how you and your table would answer it:

What's greater - the joy of a child engaged in and loving learning?

Or the pain of a child disengaged, bored and hating school?

That joy of learning can be one of the greatest highs.

But that pain of ennui can be so devastating.

OK, what if you had the following choice:

You are going to take two required courses. You can either have one that is amazing and takes you to the moon every class while the other is so dreadful you'd rather they submit you to the Medieval rack than have to sit through another one;

Or... you could take two classes that are average - neither particularly inspiring nor particularly boring.

Which would you choose?

In the first scenario, would the amazing class make up for the horrible one, or would the horrible negate the life-changing spirit of the amazing one?

At about this time of year, when I was headed off to college for the first time, my grandfather of blessed memory took me aside and said, "I have one word of advice for you for college."

I thought, "Fantastic, this is going to be one of those memorable moments that I'll tell my own children about and maybe I'll even blog about it one day (once blogs are invented)!"

"One word?"

"One word: don't take classes."

OK, that was three words, but I was far worried about the content of the message than I was about my grandfather's number sense. Perhaps this was not a senior moment, perhaps there was going to be a punchline. I waited.

And the punchline came: "Take teachers."

"You see," he explained, "You could take the most interesting class with a boring teacher, and learn nothing. And you could take what you think is the most uninteresting class with an excellent teacher, and you'll learn everything."
That advice made a lot of sense and I'm happy to say that I followed it most of the time in all of the places that I have studied since then. And I continue to do so.

Two final questions for your table:

1. What are some of the things that great teachers do that makes them great?

2. What can you do when you have no alternative to the poor teacher? When your child has no alternative?
Shabbat Shalom

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