The Black Dot

There is a story about a certain professor who stood up in front of a class with a large sheet of white paper, with a small, black circle drawn on the left-hand corner of the page.  He then asked the students what they saw.  Their answer was simply, “I see a black dot”.  After the answer was given, the professor gave the only response he would have accepted.  “What you are looking at,” he said “is a large sheet of white paper that is big enough to hold the Ten Commandments, the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence combined!  This plain white piece of paper also has a small, black dot, which all of you made into the only thing you saw!!!”

Too many of us just look at the black dots of our lives and forget that our lives have a lot more to them.

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No Bus to Paradise

While driving on the Hollywood Freeway, I noticed a Greyhound bus with the destination “Paradise” boldly shown across the front.  How wonderful it sounded.  I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could settle back on a bus destined for Paradise”?  Then I wondered, “What would this place be like and would it be Paradise for everyone?”  I thought to myself that no matter where we are, we create our own heaven or hell.  Each of us defines our own Paradise.  Some spend a lifetime in search of happiness and may even convince themselves that there is no Paradise on Earth, except of our own making.  We drive ourselves and determine what it will be like when we get there.

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Hasidic Story

There is a Hasidic story of a man who was befuddled because he could never find his clothes in the morning.  As a result, he feared going to bed because of the trouble he would have in the morning.  The man became resolute and decided to overcome this problem by carefully recording on a piece of paper every item of clothing as he undressed and noted its location.

The very next morning he was very pleased with himself.  The panic was gone.  The piece of paper was in his hand and he read:  “trouser-dresser,” “shirt-closet.”  He then read the last item on his list, “self.”  Opposite the word was a blank space.  He paused, thinking about the empty space and wondered:  “Where Am I?  Where in the world am I?”

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God's Cup of Coffee

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor.  Conver-sation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:  “If you noticed, all the nice-looking expen-sive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones.  While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.  Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee.  In most cases, it is just more expensive; and in some cases even hides what we drink.  What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups – and then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

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Pencil Maker

A pencil maker told the pencil five important lessons just before putting it in the box:

1.    Everything you do will always leave a mark.

2.    You can always correct the mistakes you make.

3.    What is important is what is inside of you.

4.    To be the best pencil you must allow yourself to be held and guided by the hand that holds you.

5.    We all need to be constantly sharpened. 

The parable reminds us that we are each a special person with unique God-given talents and abilities.  Only you can fulfill the purpose which you were born to accomplish.  Never allow yourself to get discouraged and think that your life is insignificant and cannot be changed; and, like the pencil, always remember that the most important part of who you are is what’s inside of you.

With warmth and blessings,

Rabbi Sally

Borrowing From Life

(from The Book of Samuel)  And Hannah bore a son and called his name ‘Samuel’ saying:  “because I have borrowed him from the Lord”.

In that terse phrase, “I have borrowed him from the Lord” is contained a whole philosophy of life.  Our attitudes, our values, our whole way of living would change if we understood that not only our children, but all we have – our health, our talents, our lives – are all borrowed.

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Finding God

To find God, we must step back and look at our lives, at all things that eat up all our attention and energy; and when we do step back then we can begin to look for God.  We aren’t used to feeling, and feelings are the signature of God.

Finding God requires active looking. It requires removing the veil that obscures God’s presence and keeps us focused on ourselves.

When we remove the veil, when we retreat from our overloaded lives, when we really look at the world around us, then we will begin to see God and His world everywhere.

Spirituality

Spirituality is not a hobby, not another task added to life.  It is a way of locating the sanctity that hides within the mundane.

One of the casualties of modern life is contemplation.  Our ancestors walked to work each morning and at evening, they walked home.  There was time to consider, reflect, wonder and dream.

There are so few opportunities built into our lives for reflection and for contemplation.  It takes an act of will to find that kind of quiet time.  The Rabbis understood that without order to our prayers, the tasks of life and the temptations of leisure would soon overcome our commitment to pray.  They knew that given the chance, Dow Jones, weather reports and sig-alerts would invade our silence.  “You give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world,” shouts one station.

No.  Give yourself three minutes and you’ll find your soul. 

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The Life We Choose To Live

Majorities may rule, but they do not judge.  This is each person’s task and bigness has nothing to do with it.

Consider for a moment:  Commerce is concerned with profit.  Nations are concerned with security.  Nature is concerned with survival.  Only human beings are concerned with moral values, with ethics, with ideals.

And, because this is true – and it is true – our task is clear enough.  First, we must know what is ours and ours only.  We, and we alone, hold the key to life.  Without each of us, all is a jungle.  All is darkness.  And, we must be prepared to speak out and defend what it is we truly are, and what it is we truly represent upon this earth.

More important, by far than the words we speak, or preach, or write, is the life we choose to live.

The Baal Shem Tov, some 200 years ago, discussed the role that human beings must play upon this earth; and this is what he said:  “We each must know that from the time of creation there was never created another human being exactly like each of us.  If there had been, then there would have been no reason for our creation.  Humankind’s goal is to fulfill one’s own individuality.”

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Rabbi Sally - The People's Rabbi