Archive: Erica Brown
There are wise people everywhere who fly off to share wisdom elsewhere but have little street cred back home. There are prophets in every city, but we may not offer them the respect and platform they deserve.
By Erica Brown | March 9, 2011; 05:24 PM ET | Comments (0)
The Talmud, in stating that conversation is a form of prayer, presents us with a dual challenge. We need to make sure that our prayers take on the sincerity, openness and desire to connect that we have in conversation.
By Erica Brown | March 4, 2011; 05:15 PM ET | Comments (0)
Detailed instructions may be tedious to read, but when we follow them we are making a commitment to excellence, accuracy and consistency, not only in the complex areas of everyday living but also in the realm of the sacred.
By Erica Brown | March 1, 2011; 07:49 PM ET | Comments (0)
Weekly Jewish Wisdom Love's Armor By Dr. Erica Brown "Love rarely finds the one encased in armor." -Rabbi David Wolpe This week, people around the world celebrated Valentine's Day, a day named after a saint from the days of ancient...
By Erica Brown | February 18, 2011; 01:15 PM ET | Comments (0)
If we get over the fear of otherness, we may just bridge the vast abyss that separates people from each other and ourselves from God.
By Erica Brown | January 5, 2011; 08:08 PM ET | Comments (0)
"It is better to lavish gifts on the poor than to feast heavily or to give presents to one's friends. For there is no greater joy than bringing gladness to the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the convert." Maimonides,...
By Erica Brown | December 29, 2010; 07:17 PM ET | Comments (0)
Sometimes we hold on to false hope because it is the last scrap that separates us from despair.
By Erica Brown | December 22, 2010; 10:05 PM ET | Comments (0)
Remove not the ancient border. Instead, allow the border to shape and delineate character and identity.
By Erica Brown | December 15, 2010; 06:16 PM ET | Comments (0)
"What is man, that You are mindful of him and the son of man that You pay attention to him?" You have made him a little lower than the angels and have crowned him with glory and honor." Psalms...
By Erica Brown | December 13, 2010; 08:01 AM ET | Comments (1)
"Most people think of forgetting as a defect. But I consider it a great benefit." Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav If you're like me, you walk into your garage, and you can't remember why you're there. It is at those times...
By Erica Brown | November 18, 2010; 07:55 AM ET | Comments (0)
"A non-Jew who has harvested his field and then converted is exempt from the obligation of gleaning, the forgotten sheaf and the corner of the field." Mishna Pe'ah 4:6 I was in a lecture hall when a well-known rabbi asked...
By Erica Brown | November 4, 2010; 11:50 AM ET | Comments (0)
God has given us so much, have we paid forward our gratitude by showing others love, respect and honor, even when we don't see things their way? It's all we're asked to do, and it's a lot. But it's not too much.
By Erica Brown | November 3, 2010; 09:09 PM ET | Comments (1)
"The words a person speaks are deep waters. A flowing stream. A fountain of wisdom." Proverbs 18:4 The words we speak reverberate in the lives of others. They can grow other people through their warmth and their wisdom; they can...
By Erica Brown | October 28, 2010; 03:14 PM ET | Comments (0)
"I hear it said of somebody that he is leading a double life. I think to myself: Just two?" Leon Wieseltier This Shabbat we encounter Abraham, our patriarch, welcoming guests into his home, people he did not know who turn...
By Erica Brown | October 20, 2010; 07:37 PM ET | Comments (0)
"The purely righteous do not complain about evil but add righteousness; do not complain about heresy but add faith; do not complain about ignorance but add wisdom." Rabbi Abraham Isaac Ha-Cohen Kook Many leaders rise to power by virtue of...
By Erica Brown | October 14, 2010; 05:07 PM ET | Comments (0)
We need to be people who have nothing shameful to hide.
By Erica Brown | October 7, 2010; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (0)
Sukkot allows us the dual benefit of living introvertedly and praying extrovertedly.
By Erica Brown | September 21, 2010; 12:56 PM ET | Comments (0)
Rosh Hashana is our annual performance review in the realm of the spiritual. Did we treat those around us with dignity? Did we care for the most vulnerable? Did we have enough patience with our children? Were we forgiving enough to a spouse? Did we make our colleagues feel good about themselves? Did we show appropriate gratitude to God for the many, many blessings in our lives?
By Erica Brown | September 7, 2010; 09:31 PM ET | Comments (0)
Remember the days when you were little and went to the dentist? All the anxiety of the visit would melt away when you got to put your hand into the big prize box or the large treasure chest shaped like a plastic tooth. In one scoop you got to take out a spider ring or a pirate eye patch or some other worthless treasure that never really made up for the fact that you just had a cavity filled. From our earliest days, we've gotten used to rewards, even for simply sitting in a dentist's chair.
By Erica Brown | September 2, 2010; 10:27 AM ET | Comments (0)
So as we begin the year ask yourself, "When is the last time I did something for the first time?" Don't let the challenge of beginning stop you from embracing the thrill of newness.
By Erica Brown | August 26, 2010; 09:16 AM ET | Comments (0)
"Rabbi Yitzchak Said: 'A person's evil inclination tries to renew itself against him every day." BT Sukkah 52a I've often heard it said that every day is a battlefield. We fight ourselves to have patience, trust, and sensitivity. We tackle...
By Erica Brown | August 18, 2010; 11:51 AM ET | Comments (0)
"You are the children of God, your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor make a bald patch between your eyes for the dead." Deuteronomy 14:1 Ever wonder about a young person in love who tattoos a name on his...
By Erica Brown | August 11, 2010; 08:30 PM ET | Comments (0)
When we are outside, we can bring our sanctuary eyes with us and feel blessed by God for all that our eyes take in of our majestic universe.
By Erica Brown | August 4, 2010; 10:16 PM ET | Comments (0)
To create a civil society, we all need to engage in the little, life-affirming gestures that make people turn around and say, "Gee, people really are nice. This is a great place to live, to work, to send my kids to school." You fill in the blank and make the blank worth filling.
By Erica Brown | July 22, 2010; 04:48 PM ET | Comments (0)
First, we are obligated to sympathize with the suffering or others. Then we are obligated to redeem the pain of others through acts of ongoing goodness.
By Erica Brown | July 15, 2010; 09:58 AM ET | Comments (0)
The book of Jeremiah is often studied at this time of the year because these weeks on the calendar mark the siege and destruction of ancient Jerusalem and its spiritual centerpiece, the Temple.
By Erica Brown | July 8, 2010; 09:43 AM ET | Comments (0)
It is not God's existence which changes us but our belief that God is in relationship with us. We are bound up with God and joined to something eternal.
By Erica Brown | June 10, 2010; 10:21 AM ET | Comments (2)
Sunshine is a powerful spiritual force that often goes unharnessed if the gates of heaven are closed for the summer.
By Erica Brown | June 3, 2010; 08:50 AM ET | Comments (0)
In Jewish terms, learning comes with no graduation date.
By Erica Brown | May 27, 2010; 09:11 AM ET | Comments (0)
Modesty is not only about dressing appropriately; it is also about giving dignity to what we're doing.
By Erica Brown | May 18, 2010; 10:49 AM ET | Comments (0)
We tend to intellectualize Shavuot with our emphasis on study. Yet, when we read the book of Ruth, we find moments of great emotional tenderness.
By Erica Brown | May 13, 2010; 10:02 AM ET | Comments (0)
Many times we avoid the truth. Our prophets beg us not to fool ourselves. Only by facing up to truth can we manage sticky realities and improve them.
By Erica Brown | May 6, 2010; 01:55 PM ET | Comments (0)
Is food only about taste and hunger or is it also about socialization and intentionality? For Jews, how we eat and who we eat with is more important but also much more challenging.
By Erica Brown | April 28, 2010; 03:27 PM ET | Comments (0)
God is our mikveh. In the drive for inner wisdom, the mikveh is the physical embodiment of a spiritual state that the Divine creates when we reach out to God.
By Erica Brown | April 23, 2010; 05:05 PM ET | Comments (0)
The need to share a secret is not the same as the power of hearing a secret.
By Erica Brown | April 14, 2010; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (0)
We must not forget the power of silence to capture religious experiences.
By Erica Brown | April 8, 2010; 11:27 AM ET | Comments (0)
Our ancient process of freedom did not end when we crossed the sea to freedom. Those initial steps were only the beginning. We are still walking.
By Erica Brown | April 2, 2010; 11:45 AM ET | Comments (0)
Another name for Passover is Hag Ha-Aviv, the Holiday of Spring, aligning sacred time with the cycle of the calendar.
By Erica Brown | March 26, 2010; 11:39 AM ET | Comments (2)
Use your Seder table to construct six-word stories of Passover. The fewer the words, the richer each word is.
By Erica Brown | March 18, 2010; 09:26 AM ET | Comments (4)
As we clean out our cabinets and buy matza, let's remember the foundations of Passover from our story and the message the text clamors home. Invite strangers to your home.
By Erica Brown | March 11, 2010; 10:52 AM ET | Comments (1)
True Torah study is not about a day of choices; it's a choice to make Jewish learning a daily part of our lives.
By Erica Brown | March 4, 2010; 11:47 AM ET | Comments (0)
Today is Ta'anit Ester, the fast of Esther. Many Jews all over the world fast today in honor of the three-day fast that Esther kept before approaching King Ahashuerus in the biblical book of Esther, asking that her people be saved
By Erica Brown | February 26, 2010; 04:47 PM ET | Comments (7)
When faced with a definite and predictable outcome versus a vague possibility, the ancient sages advised going with the certainty.
By Erica Brown | February 18, 2010; 09:18 AM ET | Comments (0)
So many people today are paying so much in humiliation for the grabbing they did on a piece of plastic that pretended to be money.
By Erica Brown | February 4, 2010; 09:28 AM ET | Comments (0)
A custodian of nature is not a passive watchman. It is not enough to recycle. We are actively engaged with the world around us. We cannot learn from that which we destroy. Do not uproot anything that grows.
By Erica Brown | January 28, 2010; 12:04 PM ET | Comments (0)
The worth of a person is not transactional; who are you that I should pay attention to you? The better question to ask when we withhold our attentions is: who am I that I should ignore you?
By Erica Brown | January 21, 2010; 03:13 PM ET | Comments (1)
Leaders are not trusted because they make a promise and deliver once but because they are able to do so again and again.
By Erica Brown | January 14, 2010; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (0)
Kindness is not an impulse. In the Jewish tradition, it should be an involuntary reflex. It's a regular discipline that expresses itself as compassion, consideration. sympathy and caring.
By Erica Brown | December 30, 2009; 02:52 PM ET | Comments (20)
Boundaries protect us from our worst instincts. So where are the boundaries on Facebook?
By Erica Brown | December 23, 2009; 03:37 PM ET | Comments (0)
Imagine a global Jewish people where everyone felt himself or herself to be "a candle in God's menorah." What a Jewish community we would be! Hanukkah is a great time to ask ourselves what we're doing to spread the light of belonging. What are you doing?
By Erica Brown | December 16, 2009; 09:12 AM ET | Comments (0)
The Talmud uses an expression to explain why women are legally obligated to light Hanukkah candles when they are often exempt in Jewish law from other time-bound commandments: "They [women] were also in the miracle."
By Erica Brown | December 10, 2009; 12:27 PM ET | Comments (2)
Prayer need not be lengthy to be meaningful and dependence on God does not mean losing the self. It may actually mean enlarging the self.
By Erica Brown | December 2, 2009; 03:57 PM ET | Comments (0)
Write someone a thank-you note for an 'old' act of kindness that made you who you are today.
By Erica Brown | November 24, 2009; 01:21 PM ET | Comments (5)
If wisdom is so seminal to meaningful living then why don't we spend more time as adults pursuing it?
By Erica Brown | November 19, 2009; 12:45 PM ET | Comments (0)
If wisdom is so seminal to meaningful living then why don't we spend more time as adults pursuing it?
By Erica Brown | November 11, 2009; 05:36 PM ET | Comments (1)
Nahmanides recommends that when we're angry, we use a gentle and calm voice that reflects fear and awe, as if we are speaking to someone we highly respect. Not only are we then placing ourselves as equals to those who give us displeasure, we are humbling ourselves before others. Self-control expresses itself powerfully in our voice.
By Erica Brown | November 6, 2009; 12:37 PM ET | Comments (1)
We are privileged to live at a time of great abundance, no matter what economic forecasts tell us. That abundance is much more psychological than material. Be abundant in your generosity.
By Erica Brown | October 29, 2009; 02:15 PM ET | Comments (0)
Today, too often, we are guilty of trying too hard to reduce writers and others into easy categories. Something profound can be lost when we compromise identity in this way.
By Erica Brown | October 22, 2009; 11:37 AM ET | Comments (0)
This Shabbat we reopen the Torah and begin reading Genesis anew.
By Erica Brown | October 16, 2009; 03:05 PM ET | Comments (0)
Not armed with extensive knowledge of Judaism's history, culture and ritual, many Jews today can be neither functional nor competent within their faith. How many of us read the Torah and quake from the voice of God?
By Erica Brown | October 8, 2009; 11:43 AM ET | Comments (0)
Without knowing the intense joy and economic relief of the harvest, it is difficult to understand the abiding happiness delivered each Sukkot in the ancient world. We are detached from the world of farms and fields; never do we experience that distance from a Jewish perspective more than on Sukkot.
By Erica Brown | October 2, 2009; 05:50 PM ET | Comments (7)
For us to feel the impact of Yom Kippur deeply, we have to allow ourselves the full range of emotions: gratitude, sadness, loss, remorse, guilt, joy, relief. We don't have to teach ourselves to cry. We just have to give ourselves permission.
By Erica Brown | September 23, 2009; 07:22 PM ET | Comments (11)
Escaping routine, monotony and boredom in religion requires remarkable personal effort. It requires a zest for life and a passion to squeeze out meaning from every moment.
By Erica Brown | September 21, 2009; 05:36 PM ET | Comments (46)
A fashionable New Year? Remember, God is clothed in charity.
By Erica Brown | September 17, 2009; 08:40 AM ET | Comments (1)
Don't force somoene into self-praise. Remember: a compliment is emotional oxygen for the soul.
By Erica Brown | September 11, 2009; 05:42 PM ET | Comments (5)
According to Rabbi Yose, every place in the created universe becomes my personal teacher. What better message confronts us as we approach Rosh Hashana, the birthday of the world?
By Erica Brown | September 9, 2009; 01:12 PM ET | Comments (0)
The newspaper isn't a prayerbook, but it does offer an up-to-the-minute outlet on what we need to do to make a difference.
By Erica Brown | August 27, 2009; 10:14 AM ET | Comments (5)
Today's small transgression can turn into tomorrow's front page news. It happens to the best of us. Without vigilance and a firm set of principles, it's all too easy to be carried down a path of shame.
By Erica Brown | July 30, 2009; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (0)
Do you cope better with anxiety when you banish it or when you talk it over?
By Erica Brown | July 23, 2009; 08:04 AM ET | Comments (1)
The issue is not if religious texts of old carry weight but whether or not we use religion as a thinly-veiled cover for misogyny, just as it's used today to support violence.
By Erica Brown | July 22, 2009; 08:51 AM ET | Comments (2)
The way we put food on the table should reflect the majesty of the human condition. Our work should be dignified.
By Erica Brown | July 17, 2009; 04:37 PM ET | Comments (0)
Perhaps it is in God's interest to care for us if we have the self-worth to care for ourselves.
By Erica Brown | July 9, 2009; 10:19 AM ET | Comments (1)
July 4 should be more than barbeques and lazy days by the pool. For Jews it marks our independence, too.
By Erica Brown | July 3, 2009; 03:37 PM ET | Comments (1)
Random acts of disaster must spur us to do random acts of redemption, small deeds of kindness that help us lift up the heavens when the tracks beneath us fail to carry us on our way.
By Erica Brown | June 25, 2009; 12:36 PM ET | Comments (0)
It is unjust and ironic and perhaps the ultimate denial of the Holocaust to shoot at something that history cannot and will not erase.
By Erica Brown | June 11, 2009; 01:40 PM ET | Comments (1)
The moment we put a price tag on intangible acts, we reduce them and minimize their significance.
By Erica Brown | June 8, 2009; 10:47 AM ET | Comments (0)