Friday, April 20, 2012


We have a guest scholar coming to AKSE in a few weeks to enhance the shabbat experience which recently has a lot of opportunity for enhancing.  As one of the Torah readers I will need to attend, though most of these have been significant disappointments for the yield relative to effort.  With only a few weeks to go, there has been very little publicity.  I assume there will be a Friday night dinner with a talk, Shabbos morning with a luncheon and seudah shlishit with a talk.  I know nothing of the speaker other than somebody who I admire greatly admires him greatly and that he is a rabbi.  There is a financial investment that rarely gets recouped.  There are logistical problems for which people rise to the occasion.  That may be the congregation's  most significant benefit.  But for the most part these weekends are rather passive.  People come together but they do not have to put forth the effort to prepare their dinner or any other element of shabbat other than personal scheduling.  They listen to the speaker, maybe ask some questions, acquire an opinion of how the weekend went, give feedback if asked but are rarely moved significantly ahead from the experience.  An unexpected plus, the Cantor will be away so the congregants need to rise to the occasion to conduct services, something that will happen though not always easily.

Maybe the lack of enthusiasm for this reflects on me and what I aspire to Jewishly more than it does on the congregation and what its leadership aspires to for the advancement of the people.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hakaras HaTov

While I work rather hard, I still enjoy the vigor to pursue what the hospital expects of me, and probably a little beyond that.  People younger age than me come to the exam rooms incapacitated in some way.  Yet despite feeling tired at times I am able to get up each day and find the energy to do what I am expected to do.

My lifestyle is simple and reasonably sedate.  There is a house, not at all ostentatious but paid for and in need of some upkeep but not beyond my capacity to complete.  My transportation is comfortable and stable.  I've been married going on 35 years and see a challenging effort of raising kids paying off.  My parents have passed on but I inherited and passed along enough character to allow the generations to turn over one to another.

Tal Ben-Shahar in his PBS special advocated keeping a log of five items worthy of thanks that occurred each day.  there are usually more than five, though sometimes it is a struggle to come up with five.  The Seder has a similar section of Dayenu with a somewhat longer than daily perspective.  The value of Hakaras HaTov, gratitude for the good, can and should be both daily and long-term.

On to a new personal year for me with its optimism and challenges begins today.