THANK GOD FOR ATHEISM

From time to time my wife and I sit with the kids and take a look at their latest drawings. Generally the pictures are pretty consistent—Daddy has the orange curly hair, the flowers are bigger than the people, and the shining sun has a big happy grin. But one day my five-year-old daughter Ne’ema brought us a drawing that in addition to the usual stuff featured a bizarre purple-green figure floating in the sky.

GOT FULFILLMENT?

In my seminars I often ask people to write their definitions of God. Typical answers are intellectual, philosophical, and abstract. Then I ask the participants to write a letter to God, starting with “Dear God, I always wanted to ask you…” I request that they write with their non-dominant hand to simulate the experience of writing as a child, because the object of the exercise is to get at the earliest point in their lives, when they acquired their image of God.

Sick Minds, Sick Bodies

How can we understand the physical impact of our moral and spiritual actions? The Kabbalah teaches that the world you and I live in is a product of our perception of reality. Do we see reality or do we see our perception of reality? The Zohar explains that the colors and textures and shapes of this world exist in your eyes. Is the Zohar saying that this world is an illusion?

Why Eat Kosher?

Judaism does not advocate complete suppression of our negative urges rather it gives us outlets to sublimate them while guiding us to gradually overcome them. Therefore, when we crave, we must satisfy the craving in some way while working towards kicking the habit.

Purim Secrets

Purim celebrates the salvation of the Jews from the wicked Haman’s scheme to exterminate all the Jewish men, women, and children living in the Persian Empire in the year 357 B.C.E., which essentially meant all the Jews in the world. Some of the commandments of Purim, such as hearing Megillat Esther, which recounts the Purim story, and enjoying a festive meal, are obvious ways to commemorate this deliverance.

Other commandments and customs have no apparent connection to what happened on Purim. Why are we required to give charity to the poor, send two food items to a friend, and get so drunk that we do not know the difference between Haman, the villain, and Mordechai, the righteous hero of the story? (This last commandment, I understand, is very rigorously kept in college dorms all year round.)

SOUL-UTIONS To Pain

There are times when we are simply exploring the philosophical meaning of pain. And then there are times when we are personally in pain and struggling to understand why. When we are merely discussing pain then we can find a philosophical understanding of pain. But when we are in pain, we must accept that there really are no satisfactory answers.