Perpetuating the timeless and universal wisdom of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks as a teacher of Torah, a leader of leaders and a moral voice.
Sep 6, 2021 • 12 tweets • 3 min read
As we approach Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the start of the Jewish year, here are ten short ideas from Rabbi Sacks zt"l which might help you focus your davening and ensure you have a meaningful and transformative experience.
(1) Life is short. However much life expectancy has risen, we will not, in one lifetime, be able to achieve everything we might wish to achieve. This life is all we have. So the question is: How shall we use it well?
Oct 1, 2020 • 9 tweets • 2 min read
THREAD -> #Succot is the festival of insecurity. It is the candid acknowledgment that there is no life without risk, yet we can face the future without fear when we know we are not alone.
God is with us, in the rain that brings blessings to the earth, in the love that brought the universe and us into being and in the resilience of spirit that allowed a small and vulnerable people to outlive the greatest empires the world has ever known.
Sep 30, 2020 • 6 tweets • 2 min read
THREAD -> #Succot is the time we ask the most profound question of what makes a life worth living.
Having prayed on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to be written in the Book of Life, Kohelet (the book we read on Succot) forces us to remember how brief life actually is, and how vulnerable. “Teach us rightly to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).
Sep 29, 2020 • 9 tweets • 2 min read
THREAD -> More than any other festival, #Succot (which begins on Friday evening) represents the dual character of Jewish faith. We believe in the universality of God, together with the particularity of Jewish history and identity.
All nations need rain (which we pray for on Succot). We are all part of nature. We are all dependent on the complex ecology of the created world.
Sep 26, 2020 • 12 tweets • 3 min read
There is an old story that I find incredibly moving and powerful, particularly as we approach #YomKippur in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic (and which appears in my 'Ceremony & Celebration' educational resource for Yom Kippur -> rabbisacks.info/2E0XMhR).
One Yom Kippur, the Baal Shem Tov was praying together with his students, and he had a worrying sense that the prayers were not getting through, and the harsh heavenly decree against the Jewish people was not being overturned.
Sep 25, 2020 • 10 tweets • 2 min read
“Wherever you find God's greatness,” said Rabbi Yohanan, “there you will find His humility.” And wherever you find true humility, there you will find greatness.
That is what #YomKippur is about: finding the courage to let go of the need for self-esteem that fuels our passion for self-justification, our blustering claim that we are in the right when in truth we know we are often in the wrong.
Sep 24, 2020 • 10 tweets • 2 min read
What is the meaning and the source of Vidui, (confession), the prayer that begins “Ashamnu, bagdnu, gazalnu”, that we say during Selichot and Yom Kippur, beating our heart and confessing collectively our sins?
The answer is that it dates back to the Temple sacrifices, specifically to the sin offering on which a sinner confessed their sin by saying “Chatati aviti pashati”, “I have done wrong, I have sinned”, and then specified the sin.
Sep 23, 2020 • 10 tweets • 2 min read
The Avinu Malkeinu prayer, one of the highlights of the Yamim Noraim, is based on a much shorter prayer attributed to Rabbi Akiva. Contained within its two-word introduction – “Our Father, Our King” – is a beautiful and powerful idea, best explained by a story.
Once a great naval ship sailed into port. On the hillside overlooking the sea, a crowd had gathered to watch it enter including a small child who waved to the ship. An adult asked the child to whom he was waving. The child replied, “I'm waving to the captain of the ship.”
Sep 22, 2020 • 10 tweets • 2 min read
U’teshuvah, u’tefillah, u’tzedakah, ma’avirin et roah’ hagezerah: Repentance, prayer and charity avert the evil of the decree. Why these three? Because they are the three core elements of the spiritual and moral life.
Teshuvah is about my relationship with myself. Tefillah is about my relationship with God. Tzedakah is about our relationship with other people. So what we're saying is that we can transform our fate because these three elements define who we are.
Sep 10, 2020 • 10 tweets • 2 min read
THREAD #Elul -> Yesterday I shared a thread with some ideas about what life has taught me about Judaism. Here are a few more:
Whenever you do a mitzvah, stop and be mindful. Every mitzvah is there to teach us something, and it makes all the difference to pause and remember why. Mindless Judaism is not good for the soul.
Sep 9, 2020 • 13 tweets • 2 min read
THREAD #Elul -> For the past two days, I’ve written threads about some of the things I learned from Judaism about life. But I also want to share some of the things I have learned from life about Judaism.
Never ever be embarrassed about being a Jew. Our people has survived so long and contributed so much, that you should see being Jewish as an honour and a responsibility.
Sep 8, 2020 • 13 tweets • 2 min read
THREAD #Elul -> Following yesterday's thread, here are some more ideas about what Judaism has taught me about life:
You will find much in life to distress you. People can be careless, cruel, thoughtless, offensive, arrogant, destructive, insensitive and rude. That is their problem, not yours. Your problem is how to respond. Don’t react. Don’t respond...
Sep 7, 2020 • 14 tweets • 2 min read
THREAD #Elul -> Wisdom is free, yet it is also the most expensive thing there is, for we tend acquire it through failure or disappointment or grief. That is why we try to share our wisdom, so that others will not have to pay the price for it that we paid.
So in my threads this week, I want to focus first on some of the things Judaism has taught me about life, and then, about what life has taught me about Judaism. Here is part one (of two) of what Judaism has taught me about life:
Sep 4, 2020 • 9 tweets • 2 min read
THREAD #Elul -> A few years ago a newspaper headline caught my eye: “Streaming instead of dreaming”. Using phones or tablets before bedtime, it said, is stopping kids from sleeping.
A series of research exercises suggested that young people who use electronic devices around bedtime were twice as likely to have inadequate sleep and three times more likely to feel drowsy the next day. Even having one in the room and not using it, is, they said, bad for sleep.
Sep 3, 2020 • 11 tweets • 2 min read
THREAD #Elul -> As students return to school for the new academic year after such a challenging period, it once again reminds me how for Jews, education is not just what we know. It’s who we are.
No people ever cared for education more. Our ancestors were the first to make education a religious command, and the first to create a compulsory universal system of schooling. The rabbis valued study as higher even than prayer.
Aug 31, 2020 • 10 tweets • 2 min read
THREAD #Elul -> If you want to find your purpose in life, as we are mindful of Elul and the coming Yamim Noraim, think about the following sentence: “Where what you want to do meets what needs to be done, that is where God wants us to be.”
So many of us have passions and if you don't have a passion, take time out to discover it. Dream a lot. Think what would be a life you would really live for. Keep your dreams. Joseph dreamt dreams. A Jewish leader is one who dreams dreams and that's what you want to do.
Aug 27, 2020 • 9 tweets • 2 min read
THREAD #Elul -> The place of doubt in Judaism is very interesting because most people define faith as certainty. I define faith as the courage to live with uncertainty.
The truth is that you can look at the world and find it meaningless; you can look at the world and find it meaningful. If you're looking for a life without doubt, without risk and without uncertainty, stop living because you cannot really live without taking risks.
Aug 26, 2020 • 9 tweets • 2 min read
THREAD -> How do you get your children to live your values? How do you get them to grow? Well, I'll tell you a little story. My late father who had come to Britain as a refugee at the age of six, had to leave school at the age of fourteen to help support his family.
He sold schmutters [fabrics] in London's East End - it's like the lower east side of New York - but he was never tremendously successful at business. He was one of those people who didn't get the opportunities that he might have done in another time, another place.
Aug 25, 2020 • 10 tweets • 2 min read
THREAD -> In one of his books, the late @StephenRCovey, spoke about a plane flight. This was in the 1990s and it may have changed since then. But he said that before take-off, the pilots have a flight plan. They know where they are going, and they know what direction to take.
But in the course of the flight, all sorts of factors drive the plane off course: wind, rain, turbulence, air traffic, human error and other causes.
Aug 24, 2020 • 10 tweets • 2 min read
THREAD -> I have a little dream; it goes like this. You are wandering through an enormous library. It has millions of books and you're wandering through and you're looking at all the titles of the books, and then suddenly you stopped dead.
There's a book and on the title, it’s got your name. You take it out, open it up, and you see that there are several hundred pages of that book written by many different hands in different languages.
Aug 23, 2020 • 17 tweets • 3 min read
From the start of Elul through Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and into Sukkot, the custom is to say Psalm 27 LeDovid Hashem Ori Veyishi, a psalm of David: “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”
And the traditional explanation that's given is that there is a sort of coded reference to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot in the psalm itself.