It’s late summer, Friday night dinner. Annie is at a birthday party. Just Jane, our 12-year old boy, and me. We sit on the patio in our backyard. Candles, a wine glass, and a challah I made.

Jane made meatloaf. 

Emmett and I look at each other knowing we will be making an exception to our pescatarian diets. Jane’s cooking is exceptional – and she will laugh to read this – she cooks only on rare exception.

The two candles are burning. The challah is still warm from the oven. The butter, at room temperature, awaits. The wine in the kiddish cup is actually the remainder of the tonic water that went into the adults’ drinks.

I am more concerned about the law’s spirit than letter. I run religion-outside-the-box after all. 

The sabbath supposed to be a delight and a joy – nothing to get into a tizzy about.

“So, what’s one thing that you think about more than you wish you did, and one thing that you wish you thought more about?” I ask.

Our tradition after the three Hebrew blessings with thematic and very loose English translations is for everyone at the table to ask and then answer a question.

When we started this sabbath practice 20+ years ago, Jane and I kept to the same question, “What does everyone at the table mean to you?”

When they got older, the kids introduced their own questions and then we spent the meal time going around the table asking then answering each other’s questions. 

“If you could be a superhero, who would you be?” 

“What animal do you think is everyone at the table’s spirit animal?” 

“What’s your favorite food?” 

Tonight, we start with my question: “What’s one thing that you think about more than you wish you did, and one thing that you wish you thought more about?”

I answer, “I think about religion stuff all the time. And, I wish I did more long-term planning.”

Jane laughs, “I’ve got the opposite. I wish I had a relationship with God these days. And I wish I wasn’t thinking about long-term planning.” 

She adds, “And I wish you’d plan.”

We all laugh.

 Emmett mentions how he is thinking too much about Minecraft, a video-game. And then he monologues about the session of the game he, Ben W., and Sam R. were playing hours earlier.

“…the farm we built was right next to the river, which meant that some of the time the fruit fell into the water, and we couldn’t get it, and then some of the potatoes got poisoned?”

It wasn’t a question. But his voice often goes up at the end of sentences.“Then I found 30 diamonds in a mine. Which is a lot. So I bought turtles. Which aren’t new. The bees are. We have to download the patch to get the update with the bees….”

 We eat as he continues: the carrot farm, the red stones, and the spiders – which can give you the string you need to make a fishing line.  

 It doesn’t matter that we aren’t following our usual Friday night dinner pattern or that we don’t get to anyone else’s questions.

The sabbath is about taking time off from busyness – to be present to the mundane – and to see the holy in the ordinary. 

We “uh-huh” and nod, asking the occasional question.

“The villagers can’t be moved unless you’ve gotten them into boats first. But then sleeping villagers can get out of the boats…”

I don’t understand. I doubt Jane does either.

I catch Jane’s eye. She winks. I smile.

Ah, shabbat.

You Dog

You Dog

Podcast:Why do people say they will do something but don't? Why don't people do what they say they want to do? How can I get more patient? If patience is a virtue, who's offering classes? Rabbi Brian wrote this copy here. It's just words. Well, the first part was buzz...



Podcast:Rabbi Brian of Religion Outside The Box offers an outline of four letters that will help you not be a jerk. And, more words. Because no one has ever commented to me about anything that has been written in the description of my podcasts. And, I've put out 1K+...


Spiritual Building Block: OFNR

Spiritual Building Block: OFNR  EXPRESS TRAIN Alberta street. A sunny, late summer afternoon. Portlandia boutiques. A sticker shop. A used vinyl shop. A tea and kombucha shop. I find a spot for our 2003 Odyssey and we start walking. I quickly turn back from Jane and...

Labor Day. Together.

Labor Day. Together.

“You need to give me an overview of which way we are going.” Jane is driving. I am crocheting yet another hat in the seat next to her. Driving makes her feel a little more secure and in control. There are a few sermons in this. About perceived control. About knowing...

The SIXTH Love Language

The SIXTH Love Language

A NOTE FROM THE FUTURE: Hi. This is Rabbi Brian in 2019. August.  The article below was written in 2014. It's wonderful. But, not how I'm thinking today. The difference is... THE 6th LOVE LANGUAGE There is another love language -- fidelity, faithfulness, doing the...

Forgive Them (Follow-up)

Forgive Them (Follow-up)

MORE Thoughts about forgiveness Last week, I sent an article about forgiveness–imploring you to forgive people for their transgressions. This week, I wanted to follow-up and share responses with you. Bob S. During my 51-year career, I was often asked, “Bob, how do you...

Forgive Them For They Know Not What They Do

Forgive Them For They Know Not What They Do

Making Mistakes “What does it feel like when you make a mistake?” It’s a question that Kathryn Schulz asks people. She’s an expert in mistakes. I imagine many of us are experts in making mistakes. She is an expert is what mistakes are....

The Thirty-Five Year Gosub Redemption

The Thirty-Five Year Gosub Redemption

October. Portland. Bedtime. Annie’s room. 2018 "But I shouldn't be in that group," my daughter wailed over and over again. Annie was put in remedial fourth-grade math at the start of the school year. She hadn't learned her times tables. Her teacher explained that...

The 77% Weekly

Try for free. Always free. Directly to your in-box.

intelligent wisdom. real + funny. about life

Enjoyed by 1,000's of people. 40/52 weeks a year.

Lamppost Logic

Lamppost Logic

Lamppost logic A man encircles a lamppost over and over as a police woman approaches. “Sir, can I be of any assistance?” He explains that he lost his wallet, and they both search for some time. Finally, she asks, “Where did you last see it?” “In that dark alley.” “Why...

read more
Eulogy MJR

Eulogy MJR

A horse walks into a bar; the bartender says "Why the long face?", and horse says, "I have cancer." In our last cogent conversation, Michael asked me to give a eulogy at his funeral. And he asked me to start it with a joke. The aforementioned horse joke is not the one...

read more

Few problems are solved by an email your in-box.

This is an exception.

40 curiosity-satisfying, soul-nuturing messages (with a little spunk) from Rabbi Brian. Raw, honest, vulnerable reflections on faith/religion/spirituality. Without being dogmatic, pompous, or woo-woo. Or overly Jewy-McJewish.

Wonderful! You did it. Look for an email soon! (Unless you want to work on your patience, of course.)