A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others.
-Fyodor Dostoevsky, novelist (1821-1881)
I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychoanalyst, social worker, or any kind of trained therapist. I am a congregational rabbi who has worked in three large congregations in three major American cities over the course of the last nearly 40 years, and I have encountered people with all kinds of emotional and psychological problems.
Since Donald Trump began his presidential campaign, I have asked a number of therapists what they believe is the nature of Donald Trump’s psychology. All of them said that without being able to personally interview, question, and examine him they could not offer anything precise or definitive.
“OK,” I have said to them. “I respect that, but nevertheless, can you venture a considered judgment of his psychology that can offer insight into the man given your many years of experience working with people?”
Each one, as we’ve heard in so many places, said that Trump exhibits signs of classic narcissism.
The Mayo Clinic reviews the common symptoms and causes of a wide range of personality disorders – see http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/symptoms-causes/dxc-20247656 and http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/home/ovc-20247654.
Here are some highlights:
Antisocial personality disorder
- Disregard for others’ needs or feelings
- Persistent lying, stealing, using aliases, conning others
- Recurring problems with the law
- Repeated violation of the rights of others
- Aggressive, often violent behavior
- Disregard for the safety of self or others
- Impulsive behavior
- Consistently irresponsible
- Lack of remorse for behavior
Histrionic personality disorder
- Constantly seeking attention
- Excessively emotional, dramatic or sexually provocative to gain attention
- Speaks dramatically with strong opinions, but few facts or details to back them up
- Easily influenced by others
- Shallow, rapidly changing emotions
- Excessive concern with physical appearance
- Thinks relationships with others are closer than they really are
Paranoid personality disorder
- Pervasive distrust and suspicion of others and their motives
- Unjustified belief that others are trying to harm or deceive you
- Unjustified suspicion of the loyalty or trustworthiness of others
- Hesitancy to confide in others due to unreasonable fear that others will use the information against you
- Perception of innocent remarks or non-threatening situations as personal insults or attacks
- Angry or hostile reaction to perceived slights or insults
- Tendency to hold grudges
Narcissistic personality disorder
- Belief that you’re special and more important than others
- Fantasies about power, success, and attractiveness
- Failure to recognize others’ needs and feelings
- Exaggeration of achievements or talents
- Expectation of constant praise and admiration
- Unreasonable expectations of favors and advantages, often taking advantage of others
- Envy of others or belief that others envy you
Rabbi Mark Samath posted on the Reform Rabbi list-serve a series of statements about President Trump made by therapists, journalists, current and past government officials, and political leaders. Some of the office holders are Democrats and some are Republicans. Rabbi Samath gave me permission to list what he provided to my colleagues:
- Ted Lieu, Los Angeles Democratic Congressman, will introduce legislation requiring a psychiatrist to serve at the White House: “I’ve concluded he is a danger to the republic.”
- Ruben Gallego, Arizona Democratic Congressman: “The President is mentally unstable.”
- Bernie Sanders, Vermont Democratic Senator, said Trump’s obsession with non-existent voter fraud is “delusional…totally insane.”
- Elliot Cohen, a senior State department official under President George W. Bush and a member of his National Security Council: “I’ve been in this town for 26 years. I have never seen anything like this… I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy President.”
- Paul Krugman, Economist and New York Times columnist: “This is looking less and less like a political strategy and more and more like a psychological syndrome… If you had an employee acting this way you’d immediately remove him from any position of authority and strongly suggest that he seek counseling.”
- John Gartner, a NYC psychologist and expert on personality disorders: “Donald Trump is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president.”
- Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican Congressman and Chair of the House Oversight Committee, supports psychiatric evaluation of Trump: “If you’re going to have your hands on the nuclear codes, you should probably know what kind of mental state you’re in.”
- Nancy Pelosi, Democratic House Minority Leader, questioned Trump’s mental competence calling him a fraud, a bully, and a very sick man.
- Al Franken, Democratic Minnesota Senator: Trump’s behavior is “not the norm for a human being.”
- Ben Michaelis, clinical psychologist: Trump suffers from “textbook narcissistic personality disorder.”
- Joseph Burgo, psychologist and author of “The Narcissist You Know”: Trump is an example of an “extreme narcissist.”
- Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism noted: “As psychotherapists practicing in the United States, we are alarmed [by Trump].” See http://citizentherapists.com/manifesto/
- Timothy Egan, New York Times columnist: “Millions of reasonable people are appalled that a madman is in charge of the country.”
- Judith Herman, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, in a letter joined by Drs. Nanette Gartell and Dee Mosbacher, as reported in “Grave Concerns About Donald Trump’s Mental Stability: Harvard Doctors”: Trump’s “widely reported symptoms of mental instability [include] grandiosity, impulsivity, hypersensitivity to slights or criticism, and an apparent inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality.”
- Julie Futrell, NYC clinical psychologist: “Narcissism impairs [Trump’s] ability to see reality;” he falls “toward the pathological end of the narcissistic spectrum.”
- Jean Fitzpatrick, a NYC relationship therapist: “Trump lacks proper reality testing.”
- Gersh Kuntzman in the New York Daily News: “It’s a dangerous, pathological detachment from reality.”
- Steven Rattner, former Obama administration adviser and economic analyst: “Somebody’s gotta do a psychological profile of the guy and find out why he acts the way he acts.”
- Howard Stern, Trump’s good friend: it’s going to get worse and that the presidency “is gonna be detrimental to his mental health.”
- David Brooks, NY Times columnist: “The guy will probably resign or be impeached within a year. The future is closer than you think.”
The question for the country is whether a President with this kind of mental condition can be trusted to act in the best interests of the United States, setting aside for the moment Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, to divest from all business concerns and put everything in a blind trust, and his violation of the emolument clause of the Constitution.
There are, of course, many other reasons that Trump should be investigated and brought up on impeachment charges in the Congress.
Veteran reporter J.J. Goldberg reviews the challenges in this opinion piece in Today’s Forward. I recommend it.
Note: I represent only myself and not my congregation or any other organization.
Today, December 30, would have been my father’s 111th birthday. He made it only to #53, and every year I ponder what he and I would have become together and individually had he lived longer.
My mother, who died a year ago, almost made it to 100. She was eighteen months shy of that millennial milestone.
Their birthdays, yahrzeits, Yizkor, and other significant family events always raise for me the questions “What if…?” and “How do those who live to 100 do it?”
Here are eight responses by people who’ve reached 100 to the question “Why have you lived so long?”
“Eat boiled corn with codfish and cream, and laugh…”
“Smoke a good cigar, avoid alcohol, drink water, stay positive, and sing.”
“Thumb your nose at sadness, turn the tables on tragedy, laugh instead of getting angry, and don’t feel envious of anyone.”
“Find a good wife and drink two scotches every night.”
“Fight injustice, help people in trouble, and keep your mind active.”
“Do something new each day, avoid drama and stay far away from difficult people.”
“Mind your own business, don’t eat junk food, treat others well, and work hard at what you love.”
“Live for God, pray, and surround yourself with nice people.”
So… there you have it – but, not so fast, because even if we do everything right – i.e. eat well, exercise, manage stress, maintain social connections, and live with faith – there’s no guarantee of anything.
After all, some of us are more prone to disease, accident, and rotten luck than others.
Longevity researchers say that both genetic factors and behavioral factors contribute to longevity. These include health and health behaviors, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, stress, social and environmental support, mental health, and life satisfaction.
Perhaps the most important study on longevity is “The Longevity Project” written by psychology professors Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin of UC Riverside. They culminated an eight-decade-long study, begun in 1921 by Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman, of 1500 precocious children. Terman died in 1956 so future researchers picked up where he left off, including Drs. Friedman and Martin. (see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/science/19longevity.html)
The 1500 children were followed in meticulous detail throughout their lives. In studying them Drs. Friedman and Martin conclude:
“The best childhood predictor of longevity [is] conscientiousness—the qualities of a prudent, persistent, well-organized person—somewhat obsessive and not at all carefree….It’s not the happy-go-lucky who thrive—it’s the prudent and persistent who flourish through the years.…conscientious people do more … to protect their health and engage in fewer [risky] activities …. are less likely to smoke or drive too fast. They buckle their seat belts and follow the doctor’s advice…They are not necessarily risk averse but they tend to be sensible in evaluating how far to push the envelope. [some are]…biologically predisposed to be …more conscientious and healthier ….less prone to develop certain diseases, … these people have different levels of the chemical…serotonin in their brains [serotonin helps to determine happiness and well-being]…Individuals with low levels of serotonin tend to be much more impulsive… and they eat more and sleep less… Having a conscientious personality leads a person into healthier situations and relationships… happier marriages, better friendships and healthier work situations.”
This study showed that kids described as cheerful and optimistic didn’t live as long as those boring and serious kids (i.e. nerds!?) who worried constantly about school, studied and worked hard.
The one factor that best predicted long life, even more than happiness itself, is purposeful goal-oriented work, whether for a paycheck or for its own sake. People drawn to live their lives with other like-minded, healthy, active, and involved people significantly increase the odds of their living longer and more happily.
Judaism emphasizes that it’s not the number of days or years that we live, it’s the quality of those days that matters and that is the surest way to wisdom (Psalm 90:12).
In this New Year 2017, there’s much about which to be thankful and much cause for worry – e.g. Israel’s security, its isolation and the lack of a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; epic changes the Trump administration promises; the well-being of our children, grandchildren, extended family, friends, community, nation, people, the world, and the environment.
We cannot know what’s going to occur in the year to come. However, we can control how we ourselves cope – that is our challenge going forward.
I hope that each of us will be blessed with good health, length of years and the knowledge that did all we could to live our lives ethically, compassionately, patiently, and with love.
Note: This is a blog I posted initially on December 27, 2013 with updates.
Follow me on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/RabbiJohnLRosove
Sixty-nine years ago on December 10, 1948, forty-eight nations signed the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights . This historic document resulting as a consequence of crimes committed against humanity during World War II was the first global expression of what constitute inherent human rights for all human beings.
On this Shabbat coinciding with the anniversary of its signing, “T’ruah – The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights” invited hundreds of American rabbis and their synagogues to focus on the most dangerous threat to human rights on the planet – climate change.
The theme of climate change coinciding with the Declaration of Human Rights couldn’t have been calendared at a more propitious moment given President-Elect Trump’s selection this week as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, a proven ally of the fossil fuel industry and arguably the greatest climate change denier in the United States.
Pruitt’s selection ought to chill the blood of anyone who accepts what 90% or greater of all scientists believe to be settled fact, that human-made greenhouse gas emissions have caused a 1.7 degree Fahrenheit warming of the earth since records were kept in 1880 and that virtually all warming since 1950 has been caused by the human release of greenhouse gasses.
In an article from the NY Times explaining what climate change is and does and what are the politics surrounding it, we read this about people like Trump and Pruitt:
“The most extreme version of climate denialism is to claim that scientists are engaged in a worldwide hoax to fool the public so that the government can gain greater control over people’s lives.” 
The truth, of course, is otherwise – that if we can’t find enough carbon neutral energy as a way to limit global climate disruption, we won’t be able to grow enough food and there will be no space in which we can protect fundamental human rights around the world. Unless we successfully find a way nor will societies be able to maintain democratic governments.
We need not look very far to see evidence of the danger. In the past year increasing fear of Syrian refugees has helped to invigorate right-wing and proto-fascist policies in Great Britain and Europe.
Rabbi David Seidenberg, an activist, writer, and scholar on environmental issues, has written from a Jewish perspective about the climate change threat:
“The intersection between the economy and human rights is … not only found in opposing the building of a toxic waste incinerator near a poor community, or fighting the exposure of children to endocrine-disrupting pesticides…[or] is it in the perceived moments of conflict between human rights and the environment, such as the false choice between making jobs and saving a forest… A deeper intersection is found in the great human tragedy that could accompany global warming. If predictions hold and the rising sea creates millions of refugees from coastal areas, then shelter, which should be a [basic human right], will become an impossibility. Any government trying to protect the most basic human needs and rights would find itself in extreme crisis under such circumstances, and many governments will be tempted to discard human rights in the name of national emergency…Where we find the deepest depths is…where human rights…makes us blind to our place in the earth …” 
Scientists warn that if we allow the warming of the environment, the polar ice caps will continue to melt, the seas will rise, and there will be greater, more frequent and damaging coastal flooding. Rainfall will become heavier in many parts of the world and hurricanes and typhoons will become more intense. There will be a massive extinction of plants and animals, more waves of refugees will flee their lands, and more governments will be destabilized.
What do we do?
First, we all need to become activists and protest the Trump administration’s expected elimination of regulations on the fossil-fuel industry.
We need to support the Paris Climate agreement’s implementation, and in every way reduce our own individual carbon footprints. If large numbers of people did so it would make a difference. Suggestions include insulating homes, reducing our use of power, using efficient light bulbs, turning off lights and heaters, driving fewer miles, taking fewer airplane trips, and reducing or eliminating the eating of beef.
In the Book of Genesis, the first humans were given dominion over the land . Though we were given the privilege to have use of the land and its resources for our benefit, later Jewish tradition gave a warning to the irresponsible use of and the waste of our natural resources:
“Upon presenting the wonder of creation to Adam, God said: ‘See my works, how fine and excellent they are! Now all that I created, for you I created. Think upon this, and do not corrupt and desolate my world; for if you corrupt it, there is no one to set it right after you.” 
When this Midrash was written some 1500 years ago, the intent was likely focused on specific towns and villages. Today, we are confronted with a threat to all life on the earth.
[Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles will celebrate Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday, December 10 at 6:30 PM and we will focus our attention during services on climate change and human rights. All are welcome.]
 General Assembly resolution 217 A.
 “Short Answers to Hard Questions about Climate Change”, by Justin Gillis, NYTimes, November 28, 2015.
 Genesis 1:28.
 Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28.
I am an unabashed supporter of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger and have been since it began thirty years ago, a brainchild of the late Rabbi Harold Schulweis and the late liberal activist Leonard Fein. Their mission then was simple, but as has been proven, very difficult to fulfill – namely, to engage the American Jewish community in helping to alleviate hunger in the United States.
Now, MAZON has created a powerful experience that over the next year will travel to every major city in America and end up parked near the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. as a prod to Congress to do everything possible to alleviate hunger in the wealthiest nation in the world.
MAZON presents “This Is Hunger Experience,” a high-impact, experiential installation on wheels—literally, it’s a big rig. When the 53-foot-long double expandable trailer is parked and open on both sides, it provides nearly 1,000 square feet of interior space to take participants on a two-part journey: to understand the stark reality of hunger in America and to take action to end hunger once and for all.
Part One: Illuminate—Participants enter the truck and are invited to sit at a communal table to meet, virtually, real people struggling with hunger. Portraits are projected at each end of the table, one by one, as they share their stories in their own words and in their own voices.
Part Two: Advocate—At the conclusion of Part One: Illuminate, participants will be invited to engage in activities and experiences that will deepen their awareness about the complexities of being hungry and invite them to join MAZON in educating the rest of our nation and advocating for change.
This interactive experience on wheels will illuminate the very real and preventable existence of hunger in America, encourage us to raise our voices on behalf of the 42.2 million Americans who struggle with hunger every day, and ignite our community’s commitment to end hunger once and for all. This truck’s first stop is in Los Angeles and is currently parked at Temple Israel of Hollywood. (For tours and reservations, see links below).
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger has a long tradition of engaging the American Jewish community as well as anti-hunger organizations to become catalysts for the change we need to end hunger in America. We know all too well that there are persistent myths about hunger in America, about who is hungry and why. Until our nation recognizes the profound prevalence of hunger here at home, we will never be able to rally the political will required to end it.
That’s why MAZON is launching the public tour of This Is Hunger, a powerful community engagement program that will encourage individuals to embark on a journey—one that challenges their beliefs about who in America struggles with hunger and why, and empower them to take action.
To reserve tickets: http://bit.ly/2ebJGgO
The Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1806330589623327/
The MAZON video: https://vimeo.com/187432624
Note: The above text was borrowed from MAZON’s materials.
The following is a sermon I delivered to my congregation this past Friday night, November 11, 2016, after the shock of the Trump electoral victory.
The impact of this now concluded presidential campaign and the election results have shocked not only this country but the world. One either has been lifted up upon wings of eagles or plunged into despair like Jonah in the belly of the great fish.
I don’t presume to know the hearts and minds of every member of our community. I know only my own mind and heart, and it’s from there that I speak to you tonight.
I hope my words will reflect the thoughts of many, and if they do – good! If not, it can’t be helped.
My challenge this week, like yours, has been to cope with an election result that has caused me deep distress and anxiety, and then to find a way to convert my mourning into meaning.
This election, unfortunately, has shined a light into the darkest recesses of the American psyche and revealed how divided is our nation. It should be clear to everyone that we Americans live in two worlds with two understandings about what it means to be an American and about the meaning of morality.
For those who are happy with the results, I congratulate you. As I suspect, however, this is not the case for far more of us in this congregational community. Like many of you, I’m bereft and left with a sickening feeling of disgust and fear about our nation’s future.
I worry that every advance the Obama Administration made these past eight years will be thwarted as promised by the President-elect, that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed, that twenty million people will lose their health insurance, that those with pre-existing conditions will be uninsurable, that a fundamentalist Supreme Court will be solidified for the next generation and overrule Roe V Wade and protect Citizens United, that the United States will dismantle its trade agreements, cause instability in the international markets and in our economy, that we’ll withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and set back all efforts to contain the emission of fossil fuels that cause global warming, that the NATO alliance will be weakened at best and unravel at worst, that Russia’s influence will expand, that many more innocent Syrians will die in indiscriminate American bombing of ISIS, that the US will back away from the Iran agreement and enable Iran to march quickly toward full nuclear capability and threaten Israel, that Muslims will be banned from America, that American citizens of Middle East origins and other people of color will become suspect and cower in fear, that LGBTQ rights will be set back in the courts, that sexual assault upon women will be tolerated, and that eleven million undocumented immigrants will be deported.
All these actions were promised by Donald Trump in his campaign and, if he is like all past Presidents, he will succeed in implementing seventy percent of his campaign promises.
The extremist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic, misogynist, racist, anti-Semitic, nativist, authoritarian, and demagogic bigotry that he has unleashed this year has been shocking, disheartening, frightening, and immoral.
That Trump received sixty million votes is beyond my ability to comprehend. That being said, I know that many who voted for him are good and decent people, but I also can’t help but conclude that their morality has been deeply compromised. We have to accept this fact and then try and understand if we are able, what were their reasons and motivations so we can be efficacious in helping to bring our country together in common cause and purpose.
I fear that Trump’s policies will fundamentally transform the heart and soul of this country, that we will no longer be regarded around the world as the shining city on the hill and the last refuge for the tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
And so – what do we do?
First, it’s important that we take the time to give voice to the anguish we feel. Those who need to grieve must do so. In this I’m heartened by Mahatma Gandhi’s wisdom when he said:
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall – always.”
Gandhi was probably right, but tyrants never fall voluntarily. They fall only when they encounter stronger more persistent forces of good.
And so, when we conclude our grieving, I suggest we do the following at the very least – that we try and understand those who voted for Trump beyond the bigotry, what are their narratives and aspirations? What are their needs, passions, and dreams, anger, and resentments? What did their candidate embody and how did Hillary Clinton and the Democrats fail them? Though Hillary won the majority of the popular vote and should be president, in my opinion, she did not fail in any significant way in drawing the majority of the voting public to her and her vision – just in certain key states.
Nevertheless, if you feel as I do that her vision is better for Americans and the world, then we need to expose the harm that Trump’s initiatives champion and what they will do to the American people. We need to fight to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable health care, to good education, to protection from climate change, to good, sustaining and meaningful jobs, to equal pay for equal work, to freedom from sexual assault and harassment, to safety in their communities, to freedom from prejudice, bigotry and bias, and to a fair shot at the American dream.
We have to frame the conversation going forward in ways that the American people will understand what is really at stake, to speak positively about real solutions, with detailed policy proposals that are workable and that can gain bipartisan support. This kind of communication and education about the issues includes political lobbying on their behalf, using the media strategically so that as many Americans are reached as possible, and focusing specifically on the deleterious impact that Trump’s policies and the Republican majorities in the House and Senate will have on people’s lives.
We cannot do this alone. We have to organize with other groups in coalitions of decency and be certain that our collective voices are heard on issue after issue.
There are already so many advocacy organizations working that can use our individual and collective help. Google broad themes and you will find them such as civil liberties (ACLU), women’s rights and advocacy organizations (National Organization Of Women – NOW), the environment (Citizens’ Climate Lobby and Sierra Club), peoples of color advocacy groups, LGBTQ rights and anti-bullying support groups, criminal justice reform and abolition of the death penalty, getting money out of politics, health care advocacy, hunger and food insecurity (MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger), and many others.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C. (RAC) addresses virtually every social justice issue of concern to the American Reform Jewish movement (see – http://www.rac.org).
I wrote this week to our synagogue members’ Congressional representatives and offered not only my own personal support for them but our congregation’s support for all efforts to dissuade Congress from enacting legislation that would set back a fairer, safer and more just America. I encouraged them to reach across the aisle to moderate, practically-minded members of the Republican Party and find ways to join together and advocate initiatives that can do some good, save the environment, raise the minimum wage, secure Medicare and Social Security, and help ordinary people.
As Jews, we have a special moral duty, inspired by the ancient Biblical prophets’ concern for justice, compassion, peace, and the rights of the vulnerable, to dig deeply into our tradition’s wisdom for insight, courage, and strength, while keeping our hearts open, our minds clear and our moral principles strong.
We Jews and all peoples of faith and moral purpose need to put one foot in front of the other and not get lost, to perform deeds of loving-kindness constantly, to pursue justice and peace unrelentingly, to be agents of hope always, and to be an “or la-goyim – a light unto the nations.”
The Pirke Avot (2:6) teaches – “B’ma-kom sh’ein a-na-shim, tish’ta-del li-hi-yot ish – In a place where there are no human beings, strive always to be a mensch!”
That must be our purpose, our response, our cure, and our hope!
Leonard Cohen (z’l), who died this week, often parted company from his Jewish friends saying, “Chazak chazak v’nit’cha-zek – Be strong, be strong and together we will strengthen one another.”
I wish that for all of us now.
Read – “How America got it so wrong – Journalists and politicians blew off the warning signs of a Trump presidency – now, we all must pay the price” – by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone Magazine – http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/president-trump-how-america-got-it-so-wrong-w449783
When Donald Trump turned on Hillary Clinton in the 2nd Presidential Debate and said “You have hate in your heart” his obvious projection revealed what is in Trump’s own heart. Not only is he consumed with himself, as classical narcissists are, but anyone who isn’t fawning all over him and those who criticize him, as far as he is concerned, are sorely deficient, bad, sad, a disaster, and worthy of being pummeled, slandered, and attacked mercilessly – the sign of a true playground bully.
I have considered the corrosive nature of hatred, and having just emerged from Yom Kippur when the Jewish people strives to self-critique, improve our lives and exorcise negativity and destructive impulses from our hearts, minds, and souls, I searched my book of quotations on the theme of hate, and I offer these pearls of wisdom.
I begin with a famous statement of German Pastor Martin Niemoller who criticized Hitler in the 1930s and suffered seven years in a concentration camp as a result:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
– Pastor Martin Niemoller, German Protestant thinker, teacher and activist
“Thou shalt not hate another in one’s heart!”
“I feel fairly certain that my hatred harms me more than the people whom I hate.”
-Max Frisch, Swiss architect, playwright, and novelist
“One of the reasons people cling to their hate so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”
–James Baldwin, American novelist, writer
“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”
–Hermann Hesse, German poet, novelist, painter
“Hatred like love feeds on the merest trifles. Everything adds to it. Just as the being we love can do no wrong, so the one we hate can do no right.”
–Honoré de Balzac, French novelist, playwright
“Never let yourself hate any person. It is the most devastating weapon of one’s enemies.”
-Katherine Hepburn’s father
“Love, friendship, respect, do not unite people as much as a common hatred for something.”
-Anton Chekhov, Russian short-story writer and dramatist
“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
– The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
“It is human nature to hate the person whom you have hurt.”
-Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Roman Senator and historian (c.55-c.120)
“In time we hate that which we often fear.”
“People hate those to whom they have to lie.”
-Victor Hugo, French poet, novelist, and dramatist
“There is a revisionist theory, one of those depth-psychology distortions or half-truths that crop up like toadstools whenever the emotions get infected by the mind that says we hate worst those who have done the most for us. According to this belittling and demeaning theory, gratitude is a festering sore.”
-Wallace Stegner, American novelist and writer
“If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a person well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.”
-John Steinbeck, American novelist
“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”
-Maya Angelou, American poet
“Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated.”
-George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright, critic and polemicist
“Never waste a minute thinking about people you don’t like.”
-President Dwight D. Eisenhower
“I can forgive the whites in America for hating the blacks; I cannot forgive them, however, for making the blacks believe that they are worthy of being hated.”
-James Baldwin, American writer
“Now hatred is by far the longest pleasure;
People love in haste, but they detest at leisure.”
–Lord Byron, British poet
“I used to think that people who regarded everyone benignly were a mite simple or oblivious or just plain lax — until I tried it myself. Then I realized that they made it only look easy. Even the Berditchever Rebbe, revered as a man who could strike a rock and bring forth a stream, was continually honing his intentions. ‘Until I remove the thread of hatred from my heart,’ he said of his daily meditations, ‘I am, in my own eyes, as if I did not exist.’”
-Marc Barasch, American author, editor, and activist
“I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.”
-Booker T. Washington, African-American educator, author, orator
“There is no fire like passion, there is no shark like hatred, there is no snare like folly, there is no torrent like greed.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to their human heart than its opposite.”
-Nelson Mandela, South African President
MAZON: A Jewish response to Hunger is part of a national campaign to pose the question about food insecurity and hunger in the United States to the candidates for president in the next debate.
The question is simple, and the answer is critical in the lives of 12% of all Americans:
How will you help 42.2 million Americans facing food insecurity of which 13.1 million are children and 5.7 million are seniors?
By clicking onto this website, https://presidentialopenquestions.com/questions/5923/vote/ you can ask this important question, and if thousands of Americans do so, the question indeed will be posed to the candidates at the next presidential debate next week.
This is a new opportunity for regular citizens to participate actively in the debates. The questions that receive the most votes will be asked.
ABC and CNN moderators have agreed to consider the top 30 questions. To date, the question about food insecurity has earned enough votes to reach the rank of #28 out of more than 7,000 questions submitted.
After you vote spread the word on social media and to your networks.
MAZON’s hope is to hit 8,000 votes before Rosh Hashanah!
Click onto the site above and pose the question NOW.
Tonight is the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Elul, and that means not only that there is a full moon that will pass across tonight’s sky, but that in two weeks Rosh Hashanah will arrive.
Tradition teaches that Elul is the “get ready” month before the commencement of the Days of Awe.
In the spirit of David Letterman, I offer here my list of top ten suggestions of things to do to get ready for the High Holidays in descending order of importance:
#10 – Relax: Take your shoes off. A USA Today study reported years ago that those who habitually kick off their shoes tend to live three years longer than the average American. Your feet are like the soul. Feet bound for too long stink and cloistered souls block the light. Slow down. Think about where you are in your life, what you want and need, whether you are happy or sad, fulfilled or frustrated.
#9 – T’shuvah: Be self-critical. Identify those things that keep you from being your better self. Commit to breaking at least one bad habit in the New Year. For example, let go of the anger, resentment, and hurt that you’ve allowed to build up over time. Stop writing everything that comes to mind on social media if what you say is hurtful to others. Assess whether you’ve been honest in your business affairs and taken advantage of others even if what you did wasn’t against the letter of the law. Commit to not doing those things in the New Year. Focus on the good qualities of others and not their bad qualities. Stop complaining about other people. Assume responsibility for what you yourself have done wrong. Clean up your language. If you wouldn’t say something in front of a child or your mother, don’t say it in front of anyone.
#8 – Meditate: The American Institute on Stress reports that 75-90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints. Meditation is one means to become more self-conscious, self-aware and calmer. Meditating can be done anywhere and at any time, when listening to music, looking at fine art, reading wonderful literature, exercising, walking in nature, and sitting still. Meditation trains us to listen mindfully and to be present fully with our loved ones, friends and even strangers. Become at-one with your environment.
#7 – Exercise: Walk, swim, ride a bike, go to the gym, keep your body toned. Whenever possible, walk stairs and park at the far end of a parking lot. The calories burned this way will shed pounds of fat over time, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and afford you a greater sense of well-being. Eliminate sugar and salt, soft drinks, packaged food, and fast food from your diet. Reduce the size of your portions. Don’t eat late at night.
#6 – Do at least one of the following each day:
• Have an ice cream
• Eat a piece of dark chocolate
• Buy a loved one a gift for no reason
• Stretch whenever you feel like it
• Sing in the shower
• Say hello to and smile at a perfect stranger
• Let that guy cut in front of you in traffic
• Pet a dog
#5 – Say “No” to requests if you feel already overtaxed and exhausted. Say “Yes” whenever you know doing so will feed your soul and open your heart. Read great literature. Learn from great teachers. Do random acts of kindness. Give tzedakah whenever asked by someone on the street, and don’t question his/her motives. Visit the sick. Call the lonely. Touch, hug and kiss an elderly person who may not have been touched in a long while.
#4 – Friendships: Apologize to the people that you’ve wronged and do so without condition. Don’t blame anyone for your own mistakes. Express gratitude freely. Compliment people when they have done something that inspired your gratitude and praise.
#3 – Worship: Studies indicate that those who worship regularly in community are less lonely, are healthier and live longer than those who never come to religious services.
#2 – Shabbat: Light candles every Friday evening, even when you’re alone. Buy or bake challah for ha-motzi. Drink quality wine for kiddush. Acknowledge God’s presence. Remember before Whom you stand. Sense being at one with everyone and everything around you (i.e. at-one-ment).
#1 – Torah: Learn Torah and find special verses that reflect your faith and values. Make them your own (e.g. “Vay’hi or – Let there be light!” “V’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha – Love your fellow as yourself,” “V’ahavta et Adonai Eloheicha – Love Adonai your God,” “Tzedek tzedek tirdof – Justice, justice shall you pursue,” “Shiviti Adonai l’negdi – I have set God opposite me,” “Sh’ma Yisrael – Listen O Israel, Adonai is our God, Adonai alone!”) Commit your favorite verses to memory. Repeat them to yourself as if they are your mantras.
These are my 10 suggestions for the days remaining in the month of Elul – and beyond.
May the New Year return each of us to lives of kindness, wonder, sweetness, goodness, family, friends, community, the Jewish people, Torah, and God.
L’shanah tovah u-m’tukah (For a good sweet New Year)