Posts in self-care
You’re Special — Just Because You’re You (Kol Nidre Sermon 5779)

My greatest spiritual teacher taught me that I have a soul, a part of me that is inherently worthwhile. Fifteen years after he died, in a world that too often tells people they are not worthwhile, I’m not surprised this teacher is getting so much attention: a few months ago, a documentary came out about him — and next year, a biopic will be released. Looking back at my weekly television visits with this teacher, I know he is worthy of all this attention. In his Neighborhood of Make-Believe, his puppets, King Friday and Daniel Tiger may not have been much to look at. But that wasn’t the point. These visits — with Mister Rogers — were encounters with my soul.

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Two-Line Torah: Emor 5777--Choosing time

This week’s parasha enumerates the dates and observances of the main Jewish festivals and Shabbat. Reading these instructions, the rabbis notice something peculiar: while the Torah refers to Shabbat as mo’adai, “my chosen times”, it refers to the rest of the festivals as mo’adam, “their chosen time” (Lev 23:2, 4). The rabbis conclude this is because our ancestors needed to choose when to observe the holidays based on their own calculations. By contrast, God sanctified Shabbat at the beginning of time for all time.

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My Experience Doing a Tech Cleanse

Recently, there’s been a lot of writing about how to mindfully cope with our addiction to technology. We’re beginning to develop a whole new lexicon, that includes words like “text claw” and “wexting” (texting while walking) to speak about this strange new world. I’ve written before about how technology is supposed to help us feel connected, but, in fact, amplifies an experience counter to this, fueling a sense we are missing out on connecting with our friends, community and the natural world around us.

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Compassion is a Skill

The other day, friends of mine shared how they crack each other up by furrowing their brows and casting worried looks at each other. This physical comedy routine was inspired by people’s looks of concern and pity in response to the loss of a close friend of theirs. Fortunately my friends were able to make a joke out of that intense look of worry that crossed people’s faces and which betrayed their friends’ needs, rather than allowing them to attend to the needs of my grieving friends.

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Shining a Light on Being Too Tired to Care

Bombarded with news stories of gun violence, and racist and Islamophobic rhetoric from politicians, I’ve begun to notice a numbness overtaking me. It’s a natural response to move away from pain, as from a hot flame. But even when I turn off the radio, or avoid reading official news sources, the pain of the world trickles into my social media feeds. Ideally, I want this pain to move me to act for change, but have begun to feel overwhelmed, to shut down.

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Taking the Time to Cultivate Your Inner Garden

This time of year signifies change, loss and transition for many people. As I attend Hebrew College Rabbinical School’s ordination, dozens of other graduation ceremonies will also be taking place in the Boston area. Each of these ceremonies marks a milestone, the beginning of a new journey. Kids are graduating, moving back home or moving away to start careers. Many of my colleagues are starting new jobs. As we mark these transitions, how do we leave behind the roles that have not worked for us? And how do we sustain the capacities and gifts we have cultivated? Regardless of our line of work and where we are in our careers, I hope this time of year reminds us to surround ourselves with companions and guides who can help us act with integrity and nourish our passions. Each day, may we cultivate our inner gardens in order to bring some measure of compassion, curiosity and creativity to our work — and, in turn, to play our unique role in healing this broken world.

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Taking the Time to Cultivate Your Inner Garden

Over the next few weeks, I will see several friends receive the title “Rabbi." I remember how touching my ordination ceremony was for me, but also how much was unknown outside the walls of the sanctuary where my ceremony took place: What kind of work did I want to do in the long run? How would I continue to thrive outside the community of learning that had formed me as a rabbi? How would I make new friends as an adult? What would “success” look like to me in my rabbinic work?

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