After services, ask yourself: “Am I better after synagogue than I was before synagogue? Am I greater, if only a bit, after services and sermon than I was before services and sermon?”
The aspiration of a truly religious person must be to develop the power of giving; to be genuine, honest and kind. If we are to make our contributions to God's sanctuary--and to society--we must do so with purity of heart, selflessness and humility. We must aspire to real religion.
Everyone needs to be reminded of the Divine commandments relating to upright and honest dealings. Why? Because people sometimes have tendencies that lead to dishonesty and immoral behavior. The Torah gives a powerful reminder to rise above negative tendencies, and to live honest lives.
Angel for Shabbat, Parashat Ki Tissa by Rabbi Marc D. Angel
As Moses descended from the mountain with the Tablets of the Covenant, he heard a great commotion from the Israelite camp. Joshua, Moses’ faithful attendant, stated: “There is a noise of war in the camp.” Moses corrected Joshua. The noise wasn’t warlike, but rather was the sound of singing.
Indeed, what Moses and Joshua heard was the tumult created by the Israelites celebrating around the golden calf! Joshua had erred in his evaluation of the situation.
People wear uniforms…athletes, police, firefighters, surgeons, clergy. Graduates don caps and gowns. Marching bands have their uniforms. Top hats and tails, formal gowns, business attire…each uniform is meant to define a particular role or a particular occasion. When people dress casually so that they think they are not wearing uniforms…they are wearing casual uniforms! The way they dress is meant to reflect their conformity with or rebellion from the current fashions.
Albert Einstein commented on the nature of Jewish ideals: "The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, an almost fanatical love of justice, and the desire for personal independence--these are the features of the Jewish tradition which make me thank my stars that I belong to it." (The World as I See It, p. 103).
Einstein believed that Jewish civilization was magnificent and unique in cultivating education, justice and personal autonomy. It provides the moral and intellectual framework for individuals to achieve personal fulfillment and to be constructive members of society.
We Jews, like Einstein, should "thank our stars" that we belong to the Jewish tradition.
Human greatness often entails loneliness and alienation. It is nurtured by successes and failures, by trials and errors. It is fostered in an environment of quiet thoughtfulness. The greatest people often are the most humble and self-effacing.
Our prayers are with the people of Israel as they once again are compelled to defend themselves against the forces of terror, hatred and destruction. We pray that the time will come, speedily and soon, when Israel and its neighbors will live in peace and friendship, enabling all the people of the region to prosper and enjoy God's blessings.
We are part of an eternal nation that has outlived all its enemies and that will outlive all the empires and powers of our time as well. We have faced adversity, and have prevailed. We are strong, courageous, resilient. We remember our ancestors, the prophets and teachers of humanity. We glory in their legacy and know that we have much more to do to fulfill their aspirations and dreams.
One would think that the world would be enormously grateful to the Jewish people, and would do everything possible to encourage and aid the Jewish State. Considering how much the Jews have given—and continue to give—to the advancement of human civilization, one would think that Jews would be the most popular and appreciated group on earth.