The 77% Weekly

40/52 weeks a year of spiritual nutrition derived to your inbox.

Got to laugh to keep from crying

You’ve got to laugh to keep from crying   After learning of some upsetting political news, I called a mentor of mine. He shut me down from obsessing about it by recounting something his father used to say. “You’ve got to laugh to keep from crying.”...
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Managing Expectations

As you might or might not know, I am an accomplished magician. Every year since 1979, I’ve gone to Tannen’s Magic Camp – first as a camper, then as a counselor, and now as a member of the senior staff. The best magicians will always let you know before you are fooled...
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Love the broken

Love What's Broken In the course of our getting acquainted, Ron, a new minister friend, made reference to Luther’s theology of the cross. He spoke about it as though it was something I knew. I interrupted him and admitted that I didn’t understand. “Can you explain it...
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Not Teaching A Lesson

To Not Teach a Lesson At the start of January, it was really, really slushy here in Portland, Oregon. We had 8 inches of snow and then some freezing rain. Then it got a little warmer. We got slush. Lots of slush. What follows is what I diaried that day (refined by my...
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How to be loving

How to be more loving I had a lengthy text exchange with a friend. A little editing was done to change the format to match that of a typical “advice column.”   Dear rB, You talk about loving and not being filled with hate. I remember this past summer you turned...
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God called me to be me: a rabbi

God called me to be me: a rabbi This article is a little different from the usual. There is no explicit moral at the end. I hope that this article – a theological coming out – inspires you nonetheless. 23 years ago, I was in my first year of rabbinical school. Like...
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Spiritual Diet

We are told often about the importance of diet and exercise in our lives. I'd like to think about diet and exercise in a spiritual-religious context. With physical diet and exercise, we know that even if you aren't on a specific diet, you still eat. We know that even...
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Anger Not Hate

Over the years, I have written a lot about ANGER. I have written about the proper ways to be angry. I have written about not taking in other people's anger. I have written about how even enlightened-minded folk have anger. I have written about the natural and...
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Frog or Fish: How Much Do You want it?

  One of my favorite "koans" about learning: There are three frogs sitting on a lily pad. One decides to jump in the water. How many are on the lily pad? The answer is three, not two. The one decided to jump in the water – we don't know that it did. The moral:...
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Towards Abundance

Living with gratitude. Living with abundance This is a LONG article. Please consider taking time to print this or carve out five minutes to read and reflect. It is an important article. It talks about living a religiously, spiritually fulfilled life. I am a big...
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You might be scared. In many ways, it is a scary time. The future is uncertain. It feels very uncertain right now. I don’t need to convince you of how scared the world seems. You know that. What I want to talk to you about is our need to find joy amidst the fear. You...
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Hanukkah The two most common questions I hear about Hanukkah are When is Hanukkah this year? What is the proper spelling of Hanukkah? After I answer these questions, I would like to explain that we are asking the wrong questions. The question we ought to ask about...
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What’s it worth?

What is it worth? For years, I have taught a gem from the Talmud that addresses worth: Who is rich? Whoever is happy with what they have. Pirkei Avot 4:1a Isn’t that brilliant? If you are content with what you have, you are wealthy. My students, in return, have taught...
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Be kind to yourself. And others.

Be kind to yourself. And others.  #wisdom_biscuit: Be forgiving. Of yourself. And others. I received a text message from my buddy, Fritz. It was typed in letters from the Hebrew alphabet. But it was neither Hebrew nor Yiddish; it was Ladino. Yiddish evolved from...
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Scary, not scared. And certain uncertainty.

#wisdom_biscuit: You deserve to be less scared.  Scary, not scared. And certain uncertainty. We live in a scary time. Of course it is scary. This is an election year, and the leadership of the most powerful country in the world is about to change. We are going from...
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God is not cisgender

#wisdom_biscuit: If you can easily put it in a box, it isn’t God. Terms The modern word cisgender means with the same gender from conception/birth. Cisgender is the opposite of transgender. The Latin prefix “trans” – as in the words transport, transition, and...
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Me in a dress in church

I used to regularly attend Sunday morning services at my friend Larry's church. Once he remarked that he thought it was wonderful that he could hear me singing the hymns along with everyone else. I said, "Larry, why would I not the sing the words of the hymns with...
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Discerning and Judging

Discerning and Judging Don’t always believe what you think In my classrooms, on either side of the board, there were always two little figures that I had cut out of paper. The letter “D” was written on one, and the letter “J” was written on the other. These two little...
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Apology from Organized Religion

I’m sorry. An Apology from Organized Religion AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is an update of something I wrote in 1998, the year I was ordained as a rabbi. I was searching for a different document on my computer, and, voila, I found this. I’ve edited a little. (I’ve gotten to be...
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Dealing with 💩 it.

Dealing with 💩. How to better tolerate life How to deal with bull, crap, bunk, drivel, gibberish, guff, hogwash, nonsense, rubbish, baloney, bosh, bunkum, flim-flam, hokum, hooey, malarkey, moonshine, phooey, and poppycock. In our lives, we must tolerate and accept a...
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Anger How to. How not to. We all sublimate. It’s just something that we as adults do. We sublimate our feelings, our emotions, and our actions. We neither emote nor lash out when we want to. There is a reason for this. There is a reason we all sublimate. We have to....
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Larry. Easter. Life after death. Jews. And me.

Larry. Easter. Life after death. Jews. And me. by Rabbi Brian Best friends I am on the phone with my best friend. He is a retired minister. Larry has preached the Gospel more than 62 years. He is the nicest man I know. I love him. I met Larry 18 years ago when he...
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How To Deal With Impossible People

The very first step The very first step of "how to deal with impossible people" is one that most of us forget. Answer the question: Is this something I want or need to do? Is this "impossible person" someone you have to deal with? If the answer is yes, then continue...
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Mystics. (You are one, most assuredly.)

Mystical Experiences Mystical experiences have been studied since the early 1900s. Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass) famously studied them at Harvard University. It was their study of mystical experiences that led them to experiment with LSD....
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Justifying (my) Anxiety

Justified Anxiety “I moved to New York City for my health. I’m paranoid, and New York is the only place where my fears are justified.” — Anita Wise Until September 2015, I had a classroom to set up and run. Students coming and going, names to learn, procedures to...
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“Do you need another email?”

No. You get enough emails already. Probably you don’t need one more email. In fact, you probably need to get fewer emails, not more.

“Do I really have time to read a weekly newsletter about spiritual-religious health? Might signing-up for this newsletter make me feel guilt in some way? What’s the catch?

Think about my 10-year old and his guitar lessons. He practices, if I exagerate, 30 minutes a week total. His lesson is 30 minutes a week. So, all told, he touches a guitar fo an hour a week. Now, think about you and your spiritual practice. Might you consider reading the newsletter to be your guitar lesson. What you are getting by subscribing to the newsletter is the chance to spend 5-10 minutes 3-4 times a month to your spiritual practice. Do the math, you have 15-40 minutes of time you are starting at a screen to devote to your spiritual well-being. Also, as I know that people don’t learn in guilt, I am both dogma and guilt-free.

“Why 77% Weekly”

I send it every Monday morning, except the last Monday of the month. 52 weeks a year – 12 last Mondays = 40. 40/52 is 77%.The newsletter got it’s name. I think you work too much. Many of us do. (You probably agree.) So, I want to remind you that you only need a 77% to pass.

“I thank you?”

I really didn’t know what to put in that button. “I thank you” seems appropriate. After all, albeit small, you are trusting me. So, for that I thank you.