There’s a Fiddler on My Roof

Get your SKINNY on in less time than it takes to CHOOSE a fab outfit for this Sunday night.


(the pitch)

Moses continued chatting up our peeps this week. Team SKINNY thinks he needed Aaron Burr to offer him some free advice: “Talk less, smile more. Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.” Since Hamilton hadn’t been written yet, Moses persevered with his marathon oration. And this week, everyone was standing for the Torah reading. It’s called Nitzavim (knee-tzah-veem), which means: (you) are all standing. Nitzavim gets its standing ovation name because all our peeps stood up in a ceremonial assembly to make a public affirmation that they were entering into a covenant with God, who – in turn – made a reciprocal oath to stand by each of us throughout eternity.


(the over think)

God actually made the covenant-oath-pinky-swear-promise long before our peeps stood up in this week’s Torah reading. God offered the covenant partnership to our ancestors, who were the Jewish start-up nation’s matriarchs and patriarchs. (Read this SKINNY if your start-up didn’t start-up.) The covenant’s term sheet included that God would bless us and protect us if we follow the mitzvot (meets-vote) – commandments – and do good deeds in the world. But the covenant that God made with our ancestors wasn’t just about the past. In this week’s Torah reading, God said: “Not only am I making this covenant and this oath with those standing here with us today, but also with those who are not here with us.” That is, God’s covenant with our peeps extended to every generation to follow – and that includes each of us! Team SKINNY says, “Aw, shucks. Thanks God!”


(to be in-the-know)

This week’s Torah reading is #full! It includes some of the most fundamental beliefs in Judaism. Here’s the SKINNY:
All of our peeps were standing together as they affirmed their covenant with God. The Torah says, “You are all standing this day before God…the leaders of your tribes, your elders and officers, men, women, young children, the great scholars, the woodcutters and water-drawers, Jews and converts.” This means: Everyone – and we mean everyone – was equal before God and everyone entered into the covenant together. There’s a principle in Jewish commentary that the Torah chooses words carefully and purposefully. In this section, the Torah doesn’t simply say, “everyone was standing”, but instead makes the point of defining who “everyone” was. That is, “everyone” was the leaders of the tribes and the everyday men and women in the community. “Everyone” was elders and young children. “Everyone” was scholars and common laborers, like woodcutters and water-drawers. “Everyone” was Jews and Jews-by-Choice. This means: every one of us was equal; every one of us was included in the community; every one of us entered into the covenant; every one of us stood together in Jewish unity.
This week’s Torah reading reminds us to follow God’s commandments and says that God will wait patiently for us if (when) we lose our way. God’s confident that we’ll eventually come to our senses and recommit ourselves to living a holy and ethical life. And, when we do, we’ll find redemption. The Rastafarian sage, Bob Marley, sang it best: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None, but our self can free our minds….Won’t you help to sing, these songs of freedom? Cause all I ever have, redemption songs, redemption songs.”

“Yes We Can” was President Obama’s campaign slogan and a song produced by “Yes, We Can” was also a refrain chanted by Bob the Builder and his friends. But long before POTUS,, and Bob the Builder, “Yes, We Can” was the message of this week’s Torah reading. The Torah says that living a just and holy life is not hidden from us, nor is it far away or beyond our reach. Living ethically is not simply a metaphoric goal that’s in the heavens, nor is it far away across the seas. Rather, the ability to achieve our dreams and live a meaningful purposeful life is inside each of us. Like the Rosie the Riveter, “We Can Do It” poster and the Little Engine That Could’s mantra: “I think I can, I think I can,” the Torah’s message is that becoming your best, true self “is very close to you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.” Yes, You Can!
In this week’s Torah reading God says, “I have set before you life and death, goodness and evil, blessing and curse. And you shall choose life.” God’s not telling us to decide whether to live or die, but rather that our choices matter and we have the freedom to make them. In Jewish tradition, our lives are not preordained or predetermined. We are free to choose to be ethical and mindful or hurtful and oblivious. We are free to make choices from how we treat the people we love to how we interact with the people we don’t necessarily like. We are free to choose how to act in business. How to raise our children. How to treat our friends. When the Torah says: “Choose life,” God’s encouraging us to choose wisely. Choose life means, choose a life well lived. In the days leading up to the Jewish New Year, it’s a tradition to do an intensive inventory of our lives. We think about the choices we’ve made over the past year and commit to making better/different choices in the coming year. L’Chaim (l’chay-eem) isn’t just a song from Fiddler on the Roof or a toast at Jewish weddings. L’Chaim means To Life! and it’s a reminder to us to Choose Life! That is: Choose respect, happiness, love, integrity, graciousness, ethics, kindness, hope, and choose to Believe in Yourself!


(bookmark. reflect. share)

Rosh HaShanah (row-sh ha-shah-nah) – the Jewish New Year –begins this year at sundown on Sunday, October 2nd, ushering in the year 5777 in the Jewish calendar. Luminescent SKINNIES know that the Jewish calendar follows a lunar cycle and although Rosh HaShanah means: head of the year, it occurs in Tishrei (teesh-rey), which is the 7th month on the Jewish calendar. (Read this SKINNY if this made your head hurt.) Think of Rosh HaShanah as the New (time of) Year for us to reboot spiritually, reflect individually, and refresh collectively.


(to chew on)

Team SKINNY’s New Year’s greeting guide:
Shanah Tovah (shah-nah tove-ah), which literally means: good year and colloquially: Happy New Year!
Or you can add an “L” to it: L’Shanah Tovah (l’-shah-nah tove-ah), which is sort of like a toast because it means: To or For a Good Year!
Or you can say: Shanah Tovah U’metukah (shah-nah tove-ah ooh-meh-too-kah), which means: Good and Sweet Year!
However you say it, Team SKINNY hopes you have the. best. year. ever.
(Read last year’s SKINNY for more on Rosh HaShanah.)



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