The Dual Facets of Hanukkah

Every person has a public and a private personality. The public self is how we present ourselves to others. The private self is where lie our hopes, our fears and our spiritual yearnings. The emotionally healthy individual, more or less, keeps the two aspects of self in balance. The disturbed human being is unable to do so. The private self is sacrificed for the public one, or the public life is effaced and the private one made dominant.

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Replays of Life

Like  the replay of a favorite CD, life often replays for us in the present events of the past. Mark Twain expressed it this way: “History does not repeat itself in exactly the same way but it does rhyme.”  As in the replay of a CD in which we adjust the CD player for a finer tone to the music and a clearer expression of the lyrics, so in life’s replay we seek to repair the mistakes and reemphasize the contributions we made in the past.

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Time Thieves

time-2Are you aware of how much of your time is being stolen? It is an irreparable loss. Time is the canvas on which we paint the story of our lives. We carry this picture with us into the higher dimensions and there its analysis and interpretation determines the next stage of our journey beyond this world.
Each one of us is given so much time on earth and no more. Sometimes through prayer and miracle we get an extension. But that extension is not open ended.

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Half a Matzah and a Broken World

Is half a matzah as good as a whole?

Not if one half stands for the body

And the other half stands for the soul.

The allure of the Passover seder from ancient times to the present has been its symbols and symbolic rites.  At the Passover seder the whole matzah symbolizes the two components of human life, body and soul, that should function together in an integrated way.  But in our world they are often dysfunctional. This dysfunction is symbolized at the seder by the rite of yahatz. We break the middle matzah on the seder plate. We wrap the larger piece in a napkin and set it aside to be eaten after the meal as afikomen, the after-meal desert.  In the order of the seder in the Passover Haggadah, the eating of the afikomen is called Tzafun, the hidden, i.e., the broken matzah in the napkin.

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Loneliness and the Social Media

In darkened rooms all over the world, people sit before lighted screens projecting themselves to friends and unknown others in the hope of making a human connection. But the selves being projected are more artifice than truth. They are scripted selves calculated  to make an impression. Aaron Sorkin, who created the screenplay for the movie The Social Network depicting the creation of Facebook, is not charmed by Facebook or the Internet.  In an interview he stated that he has serious reservations about the way they have connected people. Sorkin concedes that these digital inventions have brought people together who would never have found one another without them. Some of them have formed meaningful relationships and happy marriages. Nevertheless, he maintains that for a sizeable majority, the cynical illusions of the social media have not brought us closer together but have pushed us further apart. The darkened room and the lit screen of the online world is a very lonely place, and it is definitely not a reflection of the real world.

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Big Brother Watching Overtime

George Orwell would not be surprised. As he predicted in his novel 1984, Orwell’s Big Brother, surveillance, is working overtime these days. Not only is the government watching you, as Edward Snowden revealed, but now business is getting in on the act. Major retail and restaurant chains, seeking to fine tune their staffing and hold down labor costs, are using sophisticated software that tracks employees’ performance and sales activity. The software is integral to just-in-time scheduling systems, which help ensure that a store won’t have eight cashiers working when there’s only enough business for four.

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