Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Home is a Primary TOV Value

Without a secure home, normal social relations fall apart, and happiness becomes impossible. Homelessness brings with it fear, depression, and a loss of grounding. Read more about this primary TOV value at -- http://bit.ly/2hMzz1m


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Some Things I Learned Trying to be Happier

Remember my story about the supermarket grocery bagger who loudly proclaimed, “I am too blessed to be stressed!” If that is his authentic state of being, effervescent happiness, that’s great for him. My response, “I’m Jewish, I’m blessed and I’m stressed!” Well, that has a lot to do with my point. My “authentic state” of sarcasm, anger and passion mixed with sometimes unfiltered honesty is hard to take for some, but not others. People also constantly give me feedback that points to a deep caring, kindness and real love (acceptance of someone as they are, and the concrete acts that show that) and my presence and support.

“Self-acceptance” is not an easy thing to do, but it is vital to learning to be happier. If I can learn to be more accepting of myself -- even with all of the things for which I am not proud and all those things which need perfecting -- then I can extend that to others and that in turn gives me some peace, some comfort and some healing, and THAT in turn helps me to be happier!

I formally commune with my Higher Power twice a day, but throughout the day as well for anything good that happens, even if it appears to be something which I perceive not to be good. I’ve mentioned before that among the 100 blessings a Jew is supposed to say each day, just to remind us of every little blessing, one is a blessing we say when we hear good news and one we say when we hear bad news, because, frankly, we don’t know the difference. One can start out as one thing and become another. I personally don’t worry about those things because like my father, of blessed memory, I have what I call BEETACHONE, the Hebrew word for “Complete Trust in my Higher Power”, not to grant my wishes or my desires, but that lets me know I am not alone and that gives me strength. This is not something new, it has been there my entire life and oddly enough, many people sense this in me! This allows me to do my work with others as I walk with them through their pain, loss and darkness.

The more I focused upon those things which bring me light -- my children and family, my fur baby Dottie, a few very good friends, my work, Teaching about TOV and my music -- I’ve learned to be happier. It’s actually amazing what being THANKFUL, GRATEFUL AND APPRECIATIVE can do for a person, even me!

Looking forward to a year of Life, Light, Health and Being Happier still, for us all.
Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Moral Limits on Markets?

The following is from What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel © 2012; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; New York, NY; pp. 8-9. Dr. Michael J. Sandel is an American political philosopher and a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for the Harvard course "Justice." Dr. Sandel’s comments are very applicable to discussions about the economy today.

The uses of markets to allocate health, education, public safety, national security, criminal justice, environmental protection, recreation, procreation, and other social goods were for the most part unheard of thirty years ago. Today, we take them largely for granted. Why worry that we are moving toward a society in which everything is up for sale? For two reasons.

#1 Inequality

In a society where everything is for sale, life is harder for those of modest means. The more money can buy, the more affluence (or lack of it) matters.

If the only advantage of affluence were the ability to buy yachts, sports cars, and fancy vacations, inequalities of income and wealth would not matter very much. But as money comes to buy more and more – political influence, good medical care, a home in a safe neighborhood rather than a crime-ridden one, access to elite schools rather than failing grades – the distribution of income and wealth looms larger and larger. Where all good things are bought and sold, having money makes all the difference in the world.

This explains why the last few decades have been especially hard on poor and middle-class families. Not only has the gap between rich and poor widened, the commodification of everything has sharpened the sting of inequality by making money matter more.

#2 The Corrosive Tendency of Markets

The second reason we should hesitate to put everything up for sale is more difficult to describe. It is not about inequality and fairness but about the corrosive tendency of markets. Putting a price on the good things in life can corrupt them. That’s because markets don’t only allocate goods; they also express and promote certain attitudes toward the goods being exchanged.

Economists often assume that markets are inert, that they do not affect the goods they exchange. But this is untrue. Markets leave their mark. Sometimes, market values crowd out nonmarket values worth caring about.

Of course, people disagree about what values are worth caring about, and why. So to decide what money should – and should not – be able to buy, we have to decide what values should govern the various domains of social and civic life. The most obvious example is human beings. Slavery was appalling because it treated human beings as commodities, to be bought and sold at auction. Such treatment fails to value human beings in the appropriate way – as persons worthy of dignity and respect, rather than instruments of gain and objects of use.

The TOV Center is committed to human life as the highest value and these top priorities: the protection of lives, preservation of lives, making lives more functional, increasing the quality of lives and making actions transparent.

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Shalom & Thank You for Helping!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

`Post-truth’ named 2016 word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries

Oxford Dictionaries declared that its international word of the year in 2016 is "post-truth", citing a 2,000% increase in usage compared to 2015. Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics) is a political culture in which:

(1) Debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy.

(2) The repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.

(3) Post-truth differs from traditional contesting and falsifying of truth by rendering it of "secondary" importance.

The term "post-truth politics" was coined by the blogger David Roberts on April 1, 2010, where it was defined as”

"A political culture in which politics (public opinion and media narratives) have become almost entirely disconnected from policy (the substance of legislation)".

The term became widespread during the campaigns for the 2016 presidential election in the United States and the 2016 referendum on membership in the European Union in the United Kingdom.

A defining trait of post-truth politics is that campaigners continue to repeat their talking points, even if these are found to be untrue by the media or independent experts.

Michael Deacon, parliamentary sketchwriter for The Daily Telegraph, summarized the core message of post-truth politics as:

"Facts are negative. Facts are pessimistic. Facts are unpatriotic."

Hossein Derakhshan spent six years of incarceration in Tehran as punishment for online activism.

“Then for six years I got disconnected; when I left prison and came back online, I was confronted by a brave new world. Facebook and Twitter had replaced blogging and had made the Internet like TV: centralized and image-centered, with content embedded in pictures, without links.

Like TV it now increasingly entertains us, and even more so than television it amplifies our existing beliefs and habits. It makes us feel more than think, and it comforts more than challenges. The result is a deeply fragmented society, driven by emotions, and radicalized by lack of contact and challenge from outside.

Our habits and our emotions are killing us and our planet. Let’s resist their lethal appeal.”

Derakhshan provides some very good options for resisting them:

(1) If algorithms don't give us different or opposing views, we should actively try to be exposed to them.

(2) Follow people or pages who are not suggested to us by searching for related keywords.

(3) Confuse algorithms by liking what we dislike, so they produce a more diverse stream of information.

(4) Encourage social media to disclose some aspects of their algorithms and make them customizable.

(5) Tell social media we want more options to react to posts with our minds rather than hearts: agree/disagree or trust/suspect buttons, instead of like/dislike.

SOURCES:

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Five Facets of the Ideal Equality

There are five facets of the ideal equality for which the Declaration of Independence argues.

(1) The kind of equality that exists when neither of two parties can dominate the other.

(2) Humankind of having equal access to the tool of government. Something has gone wrong when, as scholars have recently shown, policy outcomes routinely track the stated preferences of the affluent but not those of the middle class or the poor.

(3) The value of egalitarian approaches to the development of collective intelligence. Experts are most valuable when they work hand in hand with a well-educated general population capable of supplying useful social knowledge to deliberations.

(4) The egalitarian practices of reciprocity. How well do citizens do at thinking of themselves as receiving benefactions from their fellow citizens and owing them benefits in return?

(5) The equality entailed in sharing ownership of public life and in co-creating our common world. When we worry, for instance, that young people don’t vote or are apathetic, we recognize that we’ve failed to cultivate in them a sense of having an equal ownership stake in what we make together.

Source: Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality
By Danielle Allen © 2014l Liveright Publishing Corporation, New York, NY; pp. 108-109.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

What does Adam represent for us, today?

What does Adam represent for us, today? True, his destiny is unique, but that is true for every one of us. Every man must believe that his every deed involves all other men. Whoever kills, kills Adam. Whoever kills, kills Adam’s vision, kills in Adam’s name. Every man should be Adam to all others. That is the lesson learned — or to be learned — from his adventure.

Nor is it the only one. Expelled from paradise, Adam and Eve did not give in to resignation. In the face of death they decided to fight by giving life, by conferring a meaning on life. After the fall they began to work, to strive for a future marked by man. Their children would die — never mind! One moment of life contains eternity, one moment of life is worth eternity.

Here again Adam differs from most other mythological figures. Though defeated by God, he did not wallow in self-denial. He had the courage to get up and begin anew. He understood that though man is doomed from the start, he can and must act freely when planning his future. Such is the essence of Jewish tradition. Despite his fall, Adam died undaunted. As long as he lived, even far from paradise, even far from God, victory belonged not to death but to him.

According to Jewish tradition, creation did not end with man, it began with him. When He created man, God gave him a secret — and that secret was not how to begin but how to begin again.

In other words, it is not given to man to begin; that privilege is God’s alone. But it is given to man to begin again — and he does so every time he chooses to defy death and side with the living. Thus he justifies the ancient plan of the most ancient of men, Adam, to whom we are bound both by the anguish that oppressed him and the defiance that elevated him above the paradise we shall never enter.

Source:
Messengers of God: Biblical Portraits and Legends by Elie Wiesel © 1976 by Elirion Associates, Inc.; Summit Books, New York, NY; pp. 31-32.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Rosh Ha'Shanah and Yom Kippur 5777: Downsizing Reflections

(Sunday at sundown, October 2, 2016, is the beginning of Rosh Ha'Shanah – the beginning of the new year of 5777.)

Well, Here I am. My kids are grown and moving out and on with their lives. (Thank you Lord!) The home for the last 16 years is being readied to go on the market. We just don't realize how much "stuff" we accumulate over the years, PLUS, all the "important things" we've shlepped around with us from before! This period of my life was at once one of the happiest and saddest, highest and lowest. Everything accumulated here had a special meaning. This was Karen's home, I moved in when we married. This was "HOME!"

For many, going through all those "things" is a drag, for others, a nightmare, for others still, a trauma of letting go of anything! For me though, this experience was one of growth, wonder, pleasure and pain. I would say that the whole episode was cathartic, freeing and even spiritual. Bags and bags of recycling, shredding, garbage, selling off items and giving away what I didn't, or never used. It was like taking a huge, deep breath from my soul and expelling that breath, with all the things that needed to go.

One of my most awesome finds was a set of journals covering various years from 1982 to the 2000s. Reading through these was like traveling through time. I'm amazed at how many things and people I'd forgotten. In so many ways, I'm still that person from 40 years ago, but in other ways, now totally different.

It's an interesting exercise shedding things that at one time were so important, but now just extra un-needed baggage, projects, even dreams hopes and relationships. I've forgotten more people than I remember! I held on to a few letters and cards where the feelings gushed with thanks and praise from admirers and also letters which tore me new one! A great balance.

Over these years, I learned the meaning of real love and learned (still learning) to be more patient and forgiving (except when I drive), to acknowledge when I damage a relationship and take responsibility for repair and reconciliation when possible, to finally let go and divest those things I have no use for, or that no longer serve me. I know what I do well and now am able to do those things on a daily basis. I feel more hopeful, thankful, appreciative and grateful for my myriads of blessings and I am enjoying my life and looking forward to what awaits in a new place, with new adventures and experiences teaching and bringing people together to create TOV!

Rosh Ha' Shanah concludes  with a beautiful ceremony called TASHLICH, usually people come with bread to a stream, pond, river or ocean and toss the bread into the water to symbolically cast away "sins", the "baggage", reading the words of the Prophet Ezekiel. This is a time for renewal of commitment to Life, To TOV, to Loving more and growing more, to help do TIKKUN OLAM, REPAIR THE WORLD AND REPAIR OURSELVES!

In the New Year, please consider becoming a Friend of The TOV Center. It enables Jim and I to Teach, Train and Mentor People and Groups to join together to create opportunities -- TO PROTECT LIFE, PRESERVE LIFE, MAKE LIFE MORE FUNCTIONAL AND INCREASE IT'S QUALITY WITH TRANSPARENCY!!!

To everyone, L'Shanah TOVAH! A Good, Healthy, Successful and Happy year to come!

Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

We Must Not Abandon Equality

The Declaration of Independence matters because it helps us see that we cannot have freedom without equality. It is out of an egalitarian commitment that a people grows — a people that is capable of protecting us all collectively, and each of us individually, from domination. If the Declaration can stake a claim to freedom, it is only because it is so clear-eyed about the fact that the people’s strength resides in its equality.” Read compete blog at -- http://tovcenter.blogspot.com/2016/09/we-must-not-abandon-equality.html

We Must Not Abandon Equality


The Declaration of Independence matters because it helps us see that we cannot have freedom without equality. It is out of an egalitarian commitment that a people grows — a people that is capable of protecting us all collectively, and each of us individually, from domination. If the Declaration can stake a claim to freedom, it is only because it is so clear-eyed about the fact that the people’s strength resides in its equality.

“The Declaration also conveys another lesson of paramount importance. It is this: language is one of the most potent resources each of us has for achieving our own political empowerment. The men who wrote the Declaration of Independence grasped the power of words. This reveals itself in the laborious processes by which they brought the Declaration, and their revolution, into being. It shows itself forcefully, of course, in the text’s own eloquence.

“When we think about how to achieve political equality, we have to attend to things like voting rights and the right to hold office. We have to foster economic opportunity and understand when excessive material inequality undermines broad democratic political participation. But we also have to cultivate the capacity of citizens to use language effectively enough to influence the choices we make together. The achievement of political equality requires, among other things, the empowerment of human beings as language-using creatures.

“Equality and liberty — these are the summits of human empowerment; they are the twinned foundations of democracy. . . .

“Political philosophers have generated the view that equality and freedom are necessarily in tension with each other. As a public, we have swallowed this argument whole. We think we are required to choose between freedom and equality. Our choice in recent years has tipped toward freedom. Under the general influence of libertarianism, both parties have abandoned our Declaration; they have scorned our patrimony. Such a choice is dangerous. If we abandon equality, we lose the single bond that makes us a community, that makes us a people with the capacity to be free collectively and individually in the first place.”

Source: Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality by Danielle Allen © 2014l Liveright Publishing Corporation, New York, NY; pp. 21, 23.


Dr. Danielle Allen is a professor of government at Harvard University and director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. We highly recommend this book.

Friday, August 19, 2016

“TOV” is one of the most important words in the Bible

It is one of the most important words found in the “The Torah’s Wisdom of the Beginnings” (Genesis 1 – 11:9). TOV will appear seven times in the first chapter of Genesis. If you're reading any section of the Hebrew Bible and notice a word that comes up a lot, count the number of times. The sevenfold or the tenfold repetition of a word is called a leitwort -- a recurring word that becomes thematic.1  These words are important and provide clues that reveal the purpose behind the message of the author. Read the complete article at -- http://www.tovcenter.org/tov.html

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Local Heroes Doing TOV in Dallas Texas

Today I had the honor and the pleasure of meeting some outstanding people who are clearly doing TOV and want to tell you about them.

Richard Miles founded Miles of Freedom – “Bridging the Gap from Prison and Promise.” Richard was wrongfully convicted of murder and aggravated assault and spent 15 years in prison before being exonerated. Miles of Freedom provides training, guidance, mentoring and a whole host of other things for people making the adjustment to life outside prison -- Job Readiness program, Professionalism, Financial Literacy, Group Therapy to EQUIP, EMPOWER AND EMPLOY ex-cons. He is a mensch with a beautiful heart and soul who is making such a tremendous difference in so many lives. My friend Brad Boa introduced us and brought us together to see how we can work with one another to move Dallas forward. I hope to bring the TOV Center mission and TOV Model to others as a new option for bringing people together to solve specific problems and resolve issues.

Also met Alex Gillan of Vertical Life Farms, working on helping people learn about producing their own food using Urban Aquaponicssolutions that grow food in an urban environment.  

Visited one of my former students, Danny Nanasi and his great crew at Think Branded Media doing excellent videos and other projects -- “We blur the line between an advertising agency and video production company. Our core competency is conceptualizing and creating video content. A decade of experience producing for brands and agencies allows us to tell your story uniquely and authentically.”

I learned about Cafe Momentum, run by Chef Chad Houser who teaches at risk kids every aspect of running a restaurant. CafĂ© Momentum’s program teaches critical skills that allow youth to apply what they have been taught in pre-release programs in a safe, real-world environment of nurturing accountability. By participating in our program, at-risk young people rotate through every aspect of the restaurant from waiting tables to washing dishes, while working side-by-side with established chefs.

I will keep you updated on all the TOVMAKERS I meet – people who are PROTECTING LIFE, PRESERVING LIFE, MAKING LIFE MORE FUNCTIONAL, INCREASING THE QUALITY OF LIFE and PROMOTING TRANSPARENCY OF ACTIONS.

Conflicting and unexamined Beliefs, Opinions, and Truths will never bring people together to make the world better. A TOV EMERGENCENetworked People with Shared Time-Tested TOV Values and Standard that puts Life First – has the potential power to produce systemic changes on that magnitude! 

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Shalom,

Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor

Monday, May 23, 2016

Perfection, Perfection

Krista Tippett is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and New York Times bestselling author. In her latest book, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, she tells a story about Father Kilian McDonnell, the monk of St. John’s Abbey. He had become a globe-trotting theological ambassador after growing up in the backwoods of South Dakota. In his seventies, he became a fairly successful published poet. Ms. Tippett included the poem below in her book (pp. 20-21).

Perfection, Perfection

I have had it with perfection.
I have packed my bags,
I am out of here.
Gone.

As certain as rain
will make you wet,
perfection will do you
in.

It droppeth not as dew
upon the summer grass
to give liberty and green
joy.

Perfection straineth out
the quality of mercy,
withers rapture at its
birth.

Before the battle is half begun,
cold probity thinks
it can’t be won, concedes the
war.

I’ve handed in my notice,
given back my keys.
signed my severance check, I
quit.

Hints I could have taken:
Even the perfect chiseled form of
Michelangelo’s radiant David
squints,

the Venus de Milo
has no arms,
the Liberty Bell is

cracked.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Politics of Moral Engagement

Michael J. Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has taught political philosophy since 1980. His classes are packed and have a waiting list. It has been said that he is perhaps the most prominent college professor in America. For Sandel, justice is not a spectator sport. His book Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? © 2009, should be required reading for all citizens today. Below are excerpts that provide a much better path for finding solutions that have the power to bring Americans together – instead of widening the gap even more. They come from pages 262-269 (highlights have been added):

Today most of our political arguments revolve around welfare and freedom — increasing economic output and respecting people’s rights. For many people, talk of virtue in politics brings to mind religious conservatives telling people how to live. But this is not the only way that conceptions of virtue and the common good can inform politics. The challenge is to imagine a politics that takes moral and spiritual questions seriously, but brings them to bear on broad economic and civic concerns, not only on sex and abortion. . . What might a new politics of the common good look like? Here are some possible themes:

1. Citizenship, sacrifice, and service.

If a just society requires a strong sense of community, it must find a way to cultivate in citizens a concern for the whole, a dedication to the common good. It can’t be indifferent to the attitudes and dispositions, the “habits of the heart,” that citizens bring to public life. It must find a way to lean against purely privatized notions of the good life, and cultivate civic virtue.  

2. The moral limits of markets.

One of the most striking tendencies of our time is the expansion of markets and market-oriented reasoning into spheres of life traditionally governed by non-market norms.

These questions are not only about utility and consent. They are also about the right ways of valuing key social practices — military service, child-bearing, teaching and learning, criminal punishment, the admission of new citizens, and so on. Since marketizing social practices may corrupt or degrade the norms that define them, we need to ask what non-market norms we want to protect from market intrusion. This is a question that requires public debate about competing conceptions of the right way of valuing goods. Markets are useful instruments for organizing productive activity. But unless we want to let the market rewrite the norms that govern social institutions, we need a public debate about the moral limits of markets.

3. Inequality, solidarity, and civic virtue.

Within the United States, the gap between rich and poor has grown in recent decades, reaching levels not seen since the 1930s. Yet inequality has not loomed large as a political issue.

The dearth of attention to inequality in contemporary politics does not reflect any lack of attention to the topic among political philosophers. The just distribution of income and wealth has been a mainstay of debate within political philosophy from the 1970s to the present. But the tendency of philosophers to frame the question in terms of utility or consent leads them to overlook the argument against inequality most likely to receive a political hearing and most central to the project of moral and civic renewal.

Some philosophers who would tax the rich to help the poor argue in the name of utility; taking a hundred dollars from a rich person and giving it to a poor person will diminish the rich person’s happiness only slightly, they speculate, but greatly increase the happiness of the poor person.

But there is a third, more important reason to worry about the growing inequality of American life: Too great a gap between rich and poor undermines the solidarity that democratic citizenship requires. Here’s how: As inequality deepens, rich and poor live increasingly separate lives. The affluent send their children to private schools (or to public schools in wealthy suburbs), leaving urban public schools to the children of families who have no alternative. A similar trend leads to the secession by the privileged from other public institutions and facilities. Private health clubs replace municipal recreation centers and swimming pools. Upscale residential communities hire private security guards and rely less on public police protection. A second or third car removes the need to rely on public transportation. And so on. The affluent secede from public places and services, leaving them to those who can’t afford anything else.

This has two bad effects, one fiscal, the other civic. First, public services deteriorate, as those who no longer use those services become less willing to support them with their taxes. Second, public institutions such as schools, parks, playgrounds, and community centers cease to be places where citizens from different walks of life encounter one another. Institutions that once gathered people together and served as informal schools of civic virtue become few and far between. The hollowing out of the public realm makes it difficult to cultivate the solidarity and sense of community on which democratic citizenship depends.

So, quite apart from its effects on utility or consent, inequality can be corrosive to civic virtue. Conservatives enamored of markets and liberals concerned with redistribution overlook this loss.

If the erosion of the public realm is the problem, what is the solution? A politics of the common good would take as one of its primary goals the reconstruction of the infrastructure of civic life. Rather than focus on redistribution for the sake of broadening access to private consumption, it would tax the affluent to rebuild public institutions and services so that rich and poor alike would want to take advantage them.

Focusing on the civic consequences of inequality, and ways of reversing them, might find political traction that arguments about income distribution as such do not. It would also help highlight the connection between distributive justice and the common good.

4. A politics of moral engagement.

Some consider public engagement with questions of the good life to be a civic transgression, a journey beyond the bounds of liberal public reason. Politics and law should not become entangled in moral and religious disputes, we often think, for such entanglement opens the way to coercion and intolerance. This is a legitimate worry. Citizens of pluralist societies do disagree about morality and religion. Even if, as I’ve argued, it’s not possible for government to be neutral on these disagreements, is it nonetheless possible to conduct our politics on the basis of mutual respect?

The answer, I think, is yes. But we need a more robust candid engaged civic life than the one to which we’ve become accustomed. In recent decades, we’ve come to assume that respecting our fellow citizens’ moral and religious convictions means ignoring them (for political purposes, at least), leaving them undisturbed, and conducting our public life — insofar as possible — without reference to them. But this stance of avoidance can make for a spurious respect. Often, it means suppressing moral disagreement rather than actually avoiding it. This can provoke backlash and resentment. It can also make for an impoverished public discourse, lurching from one news cycle to the next, preoccupied with the scandalous, the sensational, and the trivial.

A more robust public engagement with our moral disagreements could provide a stronger, not a weaker, basis for mutual respect. Rather than avoid the moral and religious convictions that our fellow citizens bring to public life, we should attend to them more directly — sometimes by challenging and contesting them, sometimes by listening to and learning from them. There is no guarantee that public deliberation about hard moral questions will lead in any given situation to agreement — or even to appreciation for moral and religious views of others. It’s always possible that learning more about a moral or religious doctrine will lead us to like it less. But we cannot know until we try.

A politics of moral engagement is not only a more inspiring ideal than a politics of avoidance. It is also a more promising basis for a just society.

Please share this with others. It reflects many TOV Values and ideas.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Who are you when no one is looking?

Recently, I posted a quote on FB which received a big response. It read, "Do the right thing, even when no one is looking. It's called INTEGRITY! " 

Doing the Right Thing is many things. It's brave, inconvenient, requires effort, requires character and conscience, can be personally difficult, even dangerous. It is also uplifting, esteem building and meaningful, and so much more.

There is a small prayer from the daily morning service which translates as, "Humans should always have Yirat Shamayim (Revere Heaven, God, Karma...) in private and in public. We should acknowledge the truth in our hearts, and practice it in thought as in deed."  Are we the same in private as in public? How about our wonderful elected officials? CEOs? Clergies? Those with the money and power? 

When you're with people socially are they the same when no one is looking? I dare to say, that many people have a public face and a private face. Performers have "personas", actors, roles, but privately, they can be very different people. The heart of the matter is this -- your values should reflect your actions publicly and privately. Religion has firmly placed the idea that "God is always watching!" There used to be a "fear of heaven", but that's lost on the succeeding generations, where the only thing that's important is Power and Profits. If No One or No Thing is watching, Who Cares?

I remember a tirade someone once directed at me personally, but it was meant for all religions and clergies. They were enraged at "God" and whichever representative was standing there at the time. He asked me accusingly, "What if you woke up tomorrow and found that there really was no God, What would you do?" I answered, "I would still act like there was one." Why?

First of all for me, there is no question -- there is something there. And, there is Karma as well. But even more important, I need to be able to look in the mirror and not be repulsed if I am going to find a way to Love (Accept) myself. For me again, imperfect, flawed, but meant to serve the Creator by serving the Creation the best I can. These are the acts that lift my spirit and give my life meaning.

Mother Teresa wrote a poem called "Do It Anyway," which encourages people to do just that. Doing the Right Thing when no one sees, when no one knows, when there is no reward or accolades, if you're made fun of, or taken advantage of, or not appreciated, Do It Anyway. My feeling is that Hesed, Hebrew for Lovingkindness is never wasted.

This is one more reason why I teach people about the TOV Standard, so they have a Values Yardstick for their words thoughts and actions, TO PROTECT LIFE, PRESERVE LIFE, ADD TO LIFE'S FUNCTION AND QUALITY, AND NOW WE ADD, TRANSPARENCY!!! In Public and Private The Values should be the same!

So my friends -- Do the Right Thing, Do the TOV Thing!


Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

TOV Center Tips – “Persistence Pays!

Consider Abraham Lincoln, who lost his mother, three sons, a sister, his girlfriend, failed in business and lost eight separate elections before he was elected president of the United States.” 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Becoming Grandma

This issue of Guideposts (May 2016) has a great article by 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl. She has just published her new book, Becoming Grandma, the name of the article is too (pages 26-30). Enjoy!

We get to reboot with our grandkids, fix the mistakes or make amends for what we did as parents. Of course, our grandchildren force us to confront our age. . . During parenthood, we’re burdened with responsibility and fear (not to mention lack of sleep). Grandparents’ love is unfettered, pure. . . The balance shifts when our children become parents. We grands begin holding our tongues (we try, anyway). We live by their rules now. And rule number one is: “Do it their way. . . .”

This role of grandmother inspired me to write a book, Becoming Grandma, asking all sorts of experts about “the joys and science of the new grandparenting,” as the book’s subtitle puts it. Of all the interviews, one conversation stands out. It was with a psychiatrist named Nancy Davis, of Bradenton, Florida. There is one question she always asks her patients: “Who loved you?”

“If nobody loved you in your first five or six years, you’re in trouble,” she said. “It’s like you can’t know what love is unless somebody loved you during that time.”

“Is it enough if the answer is, ‘My grandmother loved me’?” I asked.

“It’s enough,” she said.

Steve Leber, the CEO of grandparents.com, told me, “God gave us grandchildren to make up for aging.”

Ain’t it the truth.

Being a grandparent gives us lots of opportunities to do TOV!

Shalom,
Jim Myers

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Living Without Leaven

This Friday is the first seder of Passover. I hear complaints from many people, myself included, about not only eating matzah for a week, but no leavened products at all! Matzah tends to be like cardboard, depends what you put on it, but the Infamous Passover desserts, OMG. Some, until recently, were used by three letter agencies instead of waterboarding to extract information! By the way, I do not hold with the thought that eating leaven during Passover will bring Divine Punishment – but I do take the lesson and the discipline of it seriously!

A few things about leaven. Nothing with leaven was ever offered on the sacrificial altar in the Temple. Only flatbread, flour and water rolled and baked quickly, before any fermentation began was offered. This would probably go with the idea that nothing spoiled, fermented or decomposing was put on an altar to God. Wine was not used in the sacrifice process either, only the blood of the animal.

What is "Leaven?" It comes from the Latin, levare, “to raise, a substance used to produce fermentation to lighten a batter or dough or liquid; usually yeast.” It also means “something that modifies, mingles, permeates and infuses.” There are a host of things which modify, infuse and permeate our lives on a regular basis, like False, Empty Values and Standards which literally SPEW FORTH from our technical devises, confirming our deepest insecurities, ultimately driving us to acquire some miracle product which will be the answer to all our wishes!

For me, Passover is another opportunity to “live outside the box." Like the Sabbath, Shabbat, we unplug from the mundane, from all the anxieties, tensions and stress of our everyday lives. Us unplugged.

At Succoth, Tabernacles, which occurs in the fall, we are supposed to eat in the Succah, a simple hut, open to the sky. Except for electricity for light, no devices! Why do this? Because it gives us perspective. It provides people the chance to talk, to laugh, to sing to linger over a meal. It removes what normally permeates our lives and allows a moment to breath, to reconsider, to review.

Maybe there is a small lesson not having leaven products for the week, in remembering that nothing with leaven was offered on the Temple altar, a Holy Place. Holy also means separate. This is a symbolic way to do a SPRING CLEANING FOR THE SOUL! We separate ourselves from what intrudes, infuses and permeates our thoughts and our actions.

Lastly, the Torah states that there should be no leaven in our dwellings during Passover. The Sages were very creative in their approach to leaven in a place. First after a thorough cleaning, the owner of the home can recite an Aramaic statement that basically says, “I did what was required for Passover, if there is any leaven somewhere not found, it is to be regarded as null.”

Also, the place where leaven is stored, the custom is to sell the leaven to a non-Jew for the week, so technically, it is not yours. Here is an opportunity to do some TOV. I go through all the nonperishables with leaven and give them to the local food pantry or my friend Pastor Roy's church. TOV made easy.

Can we live without "the Leaven" of the familiar? That is up to each of us.

Blessings in this time of Renewal

Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor

Friday, April 8, 2016

Hine Ma Tov – Behold how TOV!


Psalm 133:1 was one of my favorite songs long before I understood what TOV meant. Now that the TOV Center exist, it is even better. Psalm 133 is a Song of Ascents. Many scholars believe the title indicates that these psalms were sung by worshippers as they ascended the road to Jerusalem to attend the three pilgrim festivals, while others think they were sung by the Levite singers as they ascended the fifteen steps to minister at the Temple in Jerusalem.

Today, it is sung in synagogues and churches around the world. It is something that Jews and Christians share -- and feel -- its importance. Rabbi Leynor and I are witnesses to its message. Below are the words in English and a transliteration of the Hebrew words.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

Hine(y) ma tov u’ma-nayim shevet ach-im gam ya-chad.

Below are links to my favorite two videos Hine Ma Tov. The first is a Christian version in English, while the second is a Jewish version and is in Hebrew.

Paul Wilbur

Mordechai Ben David Avraham Fried

Hope you enjoy them.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jim Myers