The VOICE of Inspiration

By Rabbi Rick Sherwin

 My wife Elissa and I were privileged to be invited by Congregation Agudat Achim to be their scholar-in-residence for the weekend. It was an added bonus to spend time with our very special friends, Perry & Francine Farb.

Mordecai Kaplan, arguably the most influential Jewish thinker of the 20th century, observed that any meaningful religious experience should contain three elements: (1) education, (2) inspiration, and (3) entertainment. All three elements were certainly woven through the weekend in the Sanctuary, in the Social Hall, in the School, and just spending time within the Farb home and outside (it was cold!).

In modern terms, we might translate Dr. Kaplan’s triad to be (1) learning, (2) uplift, and (3) laughter. It seems to me that we should weave these three elements through our lives on every level of life. To learn, we must be open-minded, and open to new ideas. To be uplifted, we need to stop ascribing motives and pointing fingers of blame. To laugh is to make sure we are not taking ourselves too seriously.

A POLITICAL POSTSCRIPT: Our country might be quite a bit stronger if politicians
— opened their minds
— stopped worrying about who is to blame
— learned the art of laughing at themselves, even as they laugh with others.

Just saying…

Let me add one further element that should be woven into every facet of our lives: Thanksgiving! Find ways to say “thank you” to those who share ideas with us, to those who accept us as we are, and to those who are willing to share laughter with us.


Rabbi Rick Sherwin, a graduate of UCLA, was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Rabbi Rick’s passion is filling spiritual services and interfaith educational programs with creativity, relevance, dialogue, and humor.




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