Thursday, November 29, 2012

Good Decision Making Lessons

A colleague made an observation about this week's Torah portion with regards to how to best make decisions - I'd like to share it with you. I'm sure just about all of you have had the conversation that goes something like, "where would you like to eat?" "I don't care, I'm open to whatever you like." And then chaos ensues. What's wrong here? We may think we are being helpful by "being open" to our friend's interests, but are we? Here is where Rabbi Jonathan Bernhard's observation comes in: In the parshah this week, Jacob is very insistent about giving some gifts to his brother Esau, as part of their reunion. Esau however, isn't so interested in them, but Jacob presses him. Now normally, you'd think giving gifts is a good thing, right? And yet here, is Jacob giving Esau gifts because he is a caring and loving brother, giving Esau things he really needs or would like? Or is Jacob's motivation something else? Might he be more concerned about what meeting the brother you deceived twice and who now meets you after twenty years with an army might be planning to do to you? Might you really only be thinking about yourself? The dinner example is the same thing, though more close at hand. If we're with a good friend, spouse or someone we "know" - we may realize that this person sometimes, or frequently, or maybe just today, will be best helped by our actually picking a place. Throwing back on someone, who has maybe had a really tough, stressful day, or someone who is usually indecisive, yet another choice - that may be the worst thing you can do. Being truly attentive to those around us, and how even seemingly small things might impact them, that is a key lesson about decision-making we see in this week's parshah. Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Benson

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Veterans Day

In the Haftarah this week, we read about the end of the life of King David, the various troubles he encountered, the plans he tried to make for the future, and the help he was offered by those who truly cared that his legacy endure. Now what is it that King David was most known for? What did he do? Well, he did do a lot, but primarily his reputation was as a man of warfare. He secured Israel's borders, and while his violent pursuits meant he was not suitable to build God's Temple, if it hadn't done what he did, there would have been no security for his son, King Solomon, to build the Temple. We should take note of the story in this Haftarah, as this weekend is also Veterans Day. We owe, to our servicemen and women, the same support and help that was given to King David. Just like him, our veterans have given in order that we should be able to enjoy our peace and security. Let us remember our veterans, and offer our thanks to them for all they have done. Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Benson