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03/22/2022 10:28:31 AM

Mar22

How do we continue to live with faith

Thus the Eternal saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Eternal did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Eternal and believed in the Eternal and in his servant Moses. 

The Book of Exodus verses above, especially with the mention of "Egyptians dead on the seashore," show that the slavery in Egypt tragedy did not end slowly but...Read more...

03/15/2022 11:59:19 AM

Mar15

Why is Purim so important to the Rabbis of old?

Soon it will be the holiday of Purim. We celebrated it early at CBSW due to spring break, but the actual date is Wednesday evening through Thursday. Purim is a strange holiday. It is considered “minor” in that it is not a pilgrimage festival like Passover. The book on which it is based, the Scroll of Esther, was almost omitted from the Jewish Bible. The story itself is problematic. God is never...Read more...

03/08/2022 03:38:38 PM

Mar8

What might help to overcome hostility?

Genesis 27:46

Then Rebekah said to Isaac, "I am weary of my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women such as these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?" 

In the Bible, we know that Rebekah had planned to gain her husband Isaac's blessing for her favorite son, Jacob, but in so...Read more...

03/01/2022 05:42:01 PM

Mar1

Are we doing enough to share our blessings with others?

Amos 6:4-6
Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
    and lounge on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
    and calves from the stall;
who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
    and like David improvise on instruments of music;
who drink wine from...Read more...

01/25/2022 05:25:08 PM

Jan25

What does it take to build a world with love?

The Hebrew word Chesed is notoriously difficult to translate. Dissertations have been written on it. The word is related to Chasid (disciple) but only tangentially. It is often translated as lovingkindness. But what exactly does that mean? We are told in the Talmud that the world in part exists because of Gemilut Chasadim, surely a related term. But, again, what is it to say, “acts of lovingkindness?” Who gets to define what acts? The...Read more...

01/11/2022 05:23:22 PM

Jan11

Promoting the values of mutual respect and kindness: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This week we celebrate Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. An important and very timely lesson we can learn from Dr. King was his commitment to civility toward all. Dr. King taught us that violence should never be the means used to establish the ends of peaceful coexistence. Not only is violence and incivility harmful to society. It also defeats the purpose of our collective efforts.  As he himself...Read more...

11/23/2021 05:22:11 PM

Nov23

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving season

You may remember that early in the pandemic (on March 10, 2020, to be more specific), members of a chorale in Washington state, in a county where Covid-19 had not yet reared its ugly head, decided to have their usual practice even though the virus was killing people in Seattle, about an hour away. Most people, including medical professionals, were not yet aware that Covid was spread easily by aerosols, which includes microscopic...Read more...

11/02/2021 05:21:03 PM

Nov2

This Friday night (November 5) at our 7:30 p.m. worship service (in the sanctuary) we will observe our annual recognition of Kristallnacht and the Torah scroll we have the honor to use and cherish. By gathering to pray we make a statement that the Jewish people and Judaism itself survives and thrives. I will be speaking about Dara Horn’s controversial new book: PEOPLE LOVE DEAD JEWS: Reports from a Haunted Present. Horn is unstinting in her...Read more...

10/26/2021 05:20:17 PM

Oct26

November is National Jewish Book Month. As a congregation I am asking that we read the following book and meet to discuss it in person on November 17, at 730 pm at the CBSW Social Hall. The book is Micah Goodman’s The Wondering Jew: Israel and the Search for Jewish Identity. This recent book is already considered a masterpiece. Goodman tackles the religious-secular divide in Israel (and the world), showing how different Jewish denominations...Read more...

10/19/2021 05:19:08 PM

Oct19

Occasionally this column will offer reflections on the ways that ancient biblical insights offer perspective on current events. In the news these days is the attempt of three Supreme Court justices to argue that, irrespective of opinion polls, they are not making decisions based on political opinions.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer and Amy Coney Barrett recently argued...Read more...

10/08/2021 05:17:50 PM

Oct8

Here’s hoping that the Covid numbers continue to go down and our opportunities to restore our community ascend! To that end, we have some upcoming – but safe – events planned. They include of course our Friday night 730 pm worship but also tonight’s 730 pm monthly class on the wisdom of the biblical book Proverbs. You will be amazed at how relevant this 3,000-year-old advice is for us today. On November 2 we will have our next...Read more...

10/05/2021 05:16:02 PM

Oct5

Dear CBSW Members:

I am hoping that the year ahead will be a great and healthier one for us all. Of the many regrets I have had during this pandemic one has been the lack of ability for us to get to know each other better. I know we cannot make up for lost time, but I do hope that going forward we can begin to correct this misfortune. To that end, I am offering in the weeks ahead to buy you coffee (or tea). The usual place will be the...Read more...

01/26/2021 05:14:21 PM

Jan26

A Lesson from Mt. Everest

At 29,028 feet high, Mt. Everest’s weather is seldom ideal for long, but the longest windows for ascent normally occur in the spring, from late March to the first week in June. This means that all those who want to climb the highest real estate on earth need to make their attempts within that timeframe. The extended time near the summit also increases the likelihood that people will succumb to other...Read more...

01/19/2021 05:13:24 PM

Jan19

A few months ago there was a certain airplane flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  Like many flights these days, there was a delay.  To make matters worse, after the flight took off there was an unexpected stop in Sacramento.  The flight attendant told the passengers they were permitted to exit the plane for thirty minutes.  Everybody left the plane except one blind man.  He patiently...Read more...

01/18/2021 05:24:13 PM

Jan18

Shaphan the secretary informed the king, "The priest Hilkiah has given me a book." Shaphan then read it aloud to the king. When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. 2 Kings 22:10-11

In the Bible there is a dramatic tale of the King of Judah being presented with a scroll that had been hidden for many years and was now discovered. Although the term "time capsule" doesn't appear anywhere in the...Read more...

11/17/2020 05:12:31 PM

Nov17

During a Thanksgiving season many years ago, a certain general of the Salvation Army decided to send greetings to every unit scattered across the world. Since cable rates were very expensive, the general was forced to confine his message to a single word. The general spent many minutes deciding which word to send. What would best express the spirit and challenge of Thanksgiving? Finally, after deep thought, he made...Read more...

11/10/2020 05:10:40 PM

Nov10

Georgene Johnson lived in Cleveland, Ohio.  She was 42 years old and she was trying to have a good attitude about being 42 years old.  And so she started running and exercising to keep in shape. She said, “I’m not going to look like I am 42, or at least I am going to look like a good 42.”

She did well in her running. She was running farther every day. She thought...Read more...

11/02/2020 05:09:17 PM

Nov2

Some useful advice for these days of discord:

In the Talmud we find a famous debate between the rabbis concerning how one should rebuke another.   All of them agree however that, when confronted with someone's unjust behavior, we are obligated to criticize them.  The issue centers on not if we rebuke them but how we rebuke them.  Rebuking someone...Read more...

10/27/2020 05:07:56 PM

Oct27

"Who's there?" is the first thing we read in Shakespeare's Hamlet. It encapsulates the topic of the entire play. "Where are you?" is the first question asked by God in the Torah (Genesis 3:9). From a metaphysical point of view, it captures the topic of the entire Bible. Paying attention to questions is a clever way to get to the heart of any matter. As the physicist Isaac Rabi used to recall, when his mother greeted him at the end of the...Read more...

10/13/2020 05:06:03 PM

Oct13

There’s a story of a certain Rabbi Joseph, who lived almost 2,000 years ago.  He became critically ill and slipped into a coma.  His father, Rabbi Joshua, remained at his bedside praying for his recovery.  Fortunately, Rabbi Joseph did get better.

         When he awoke from his coma, his father asked, “What did you see as...Read more...

10/06/2020 05:04:16 PM

Oct6

A continuing and often underreported concern these days, made more acute due to the pandemic, is suicide prevention and mental health. It is important that the resources available to us are easy to access, such a 1-800-273-8255, the nation suicide prevention lifeline. There is also a crisis text line at 741741 and a chat service at imalive.org. In addition, in the Woodlands there are a number of resources, including...Read more...

03/31/2020 05:02:42 PM

Mar31

Why is Judaism Pro-Choice/Pro-Abortion?

When it comes to the matter of ending the life of a fetus, Jewish tradition always sides with privileging the mother’s life over the life of the fetus. The reason the ancient rabbis gave was that the fetus, if endangering the life of the mother, is technically considered a pursuer of the mother (rodef), and therefore saving the life of the...Read more...

03/24/2020 05:01:12 PM

Mar24

Every year at Passover we welcome Elijah

1. Who was Elijah?

2. What is the significance of welcoming him at Passover?

3. I have been told from my childhood that one day he will come. What is the significance of that and what does it mean to us as Jews?

In the Bible, Elijah is not the...Read more...

03/10/2020 04:59:58 PM

Mar10

In the Bible all debts were to be forgiven every 7 years and every 49 years was the year of jubilee where all property was to be returned to the original owners.  What lessons are there in this for governments?

Note that most state laws prohibit a person from declaring bankruptcy more than once in seven years, supposedly taken from the Bible.  Also, when the slaves were...Read more...

03/03/2020 04:59:05 PM

Mar3

What is the Jewish View of The Hereafter?

I once had an elderly rabbinic professor who would say that each night he would ponder the hereafter. He would wake up around 2 am, go downstairs, open the refrigerator, and ask himself, “Now what was I here after?”

In Jewish tradition the hereafter had little mention in the Bible. Belief in an afterlife...Read more...

02/25/2020 04:58:18 PM

Feb25

Do Jews Believe in Angels? 

Angels have always played a big role in Judaism, from the Bible onward. There are angels that appear to give a divine message, and sometimes they appear as humans but have a sacred mission. The Hebrew word for angel, malakh, means “messenger”. Early prayers of the ancient rabbis featured angels, including the main prayer that declares God’s...Read more...

02/18/2020 04:57:21 PM

Feb18

What does a Jewish Astros fan do now?

The simple answer is hope that the Astros will be a great and a more honest team in the future. The more complicated answer is what do we do about cheating in sports and in general. The common refrain that “everyone cheats in baseball” may have some truth but it is not the point. The point is that it will be hard to enjoy a game of anything...Read more...

02/11/2020 04:55:38 PM

Feb11

Why Be Jewish?
Ralph Stephenson asks the question, “Why Be Jewish?” Not an easy question to answer but an important one!

Here are some usual answers:

Why be Jewish?

Because God (the Torah) says so. We were signed on long ago by our ancestors, who declared, “We will do, and we will understand.” Apparently, they felt doing was more...Read more...

02/04/2020 04:54:54 PM

Feb4

What is the Evil Eye?

It is not uncommon for people to say “knock on wood” if they don’t want something bad to happen. In Judaism we have a complementary phrase, “kenna hora”. It means “against the evil eye”. What is an evil eye? And why don’t we like it? For all of our 21st century sophistication, we humans remain afraid of malevolent powers. There is a lot of Jewish...Read more...

01/28/2020 04:54:01 PM

Jan28

What Does Judaism Say About Astrology?

The skies have always been a source of fascination for people, but they have also been a source of future wisdom. Some have even worshipped the stars. While rejecting the divine element of stargazing, ancient rabbis believed in the wisdom that stars can provide. When we wish each other “mazel tov” we are saying that the person should be...Read more...

Sun, February 5 2023 14 Sh'vat 5783