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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...

01/21/2020 04:53:05 PM

Jan21

What is the Jewish View of Alcohol?

Some of us eschew alcohol in January. What is the Jewish view of alcohol? Most people understand that Jews and alcohol are not strangers, at least in our rituals. We may not be infamous for drinking, but neither are we known as those who abstain. Of course, one can always not drink – a blessing can be made over juice – but the norm is drinking...Read more...

01/14/2020 04:52:09 PM

Jan14

What Does Judaism Say About Psychoanalysis?

So, I have been reading this new book, Genius & Anxiety: How Jews Changed the World, 1847-1947, by Norman Lebrecht, and, among many other famous Jews, Sigmund Freud is featured. He was a genius and he thought a lot about anxiety. He was such an important teacher that many of his disciples considered him their “rabbi”. But is...Read more...

01/07/2020 04:51:07 PM

Jan7

This Week’s Question: Why Do People in the Bible Suffer So Much?

Someone once said you wouldn’t want your children to grow up to be anyone in the Bible.

It is hard to be Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, et al. People in the Bible are often nasty, cruel and spiteful. And those are the good guys! Why can’t the Bible have happier stories and...Read more...

12/31/2019 04:49:30 PM

Dec31

What is the Difference Between the Jewish New Year and the Secular New Year?

On one level this question is absurd in that we all know there is a difference. No one ends up at synagogue on Rosh Hashanah with a lampshade on their head! New Year’s Eve in the secular world is about celebration, fitness resolutions, and Times Square. Rosh Hashanah is about forgiveness, judgment, moral...Read more...

12/24/2019 04:48:19 PM

Dec24

What Does Judaism Say About Gambling?
The Bible does not speak about gambling, per se, but the theme of games of risk is not unknown in the Bible. In the Book of Esther, for instance, there is the casting of lots. We also have a similar lottery when dealing with the scapegoat on Yom Kippur. The sailors in the book of Jonah cast lots as well. Later Jewish tradition specifically addresses gambling and declares...Read more...

12/17/2019 04:46:45 PM

Dec17

Is Judaism a Nation or a Religion?

The recent executive order – or at least the hubbub surrounding it -- calls forth the question of identity. Irrespective of how one feels about the order – or the source from which it came – are we a nation or are we a religion? The answer is complicated. Until the nineteenth century, we were both. Indeed, the question itself would have been...Read more...

12/10/2019 04:44:00 PM

Dec10

What Does Judaism Say About Christianity?

Judaism and Christianity, as any siblings, have a lot in common. For instance: the Bible, words like “Amen” and “Hallelujah”, adherence to ethics, and prayer. Much more, really. Of course, we also part ways in important places. The Christian doctrines of the Trinity, Incarnation, Virgin Birth, and vicarious Atonement are foreign to...Read more...

12/03/2019 04:42:24 PM

Dec3

What Does Judaism Say About Advertising?

This time of year – indeed every time of year – we are inundated by advertising. The world of advertising is modern but some of the values involved in putting it into perspective are ancient and still timeless. References in the ancient literature are few but instructive. The prophet Isaiah (55:1-2) warns against spending our money on that...Read more...

11/25/2019 04:37:57 PM

Nov25

Climate change is a major concern for most humans. What does Judaism say about caring and protecting our Olam (world)?

 - Elie Abraham

The ancient Rabbis told a story of God taking Adam around the Garden of Eden, showing all the beauty of the place, and then telling Adam: “All this I created for you. Take care that you don’t destroy it!” There is no question that our human record in this regard has been highly...Read more...

Sat, September 24 2022 28 Elul 5782