Thursday, May 18, 2017

Guideline for Making Better Decisions and Evaluating Human Actions

We created the TOV Center Guideline for Decision Making & Evaluating Human Actions to increase the number of people doing TOV. We know that when people take time to identify specific lives that will be or were affected by their decisions, it makes a big difference. Most people want to do what is best for other people. Read the complete article and download Guideline at --

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Finding Ourselves in the Middle of Nowhere

Once we are thrown out, or walk out of our “Egypt”, what is known, what is familiar, what is habit -- is wiped away. We wonder, where are we, where do we go, what will happen now? In the Biblical context, we enter the Midbar, Wilderness in Hebrew. What’s interesting is that in the Biblical context, when many important individuals and groups encounter their Higher Power, a Deity, or their Highest Self – regardless of which -- everyone and everything is changed – everything is different. The trajectory of life goes in another, unexpected direction.

My observation is that we all go through this process in our own way – on our own journeys. It allows us the freedom and courage to begin again, even in the middle of the Midbar! Sometimes, we find ourselves in the middle of nowhere, and it’s right there in the middle of nowhere that we find ourselves! 

The toughest and most painful thing I do is, work with people who’ve lost a child, and worse, their only child. All the future dreams, hopes, wishes, expectations and anticipations are smashed to pieces. Their role of "Mom and Dad” no longer seems to apply. That is like being in the middle of nowhere!

In my research and observations, I’m many times amazed by the choice of response to these terrible traumas. Not only the courage to move forward, but the creativity and dedication to telling their story and finding meaning and purpose in life again -- by making a difference in the lives of others. I want to share a story gleaned from one of these recent books.

A man lost his twenty-two year old son in an automobile accident. Over the course of his grieving, he wrote a collection of poems about his journey through his loss. He published them in a book called, “Life As a Novice.” When asked about his choice of response, he said writing the book was the “best way of keeping his son’s continued presence in his life.” For him, it was “In the Middle of Nowhere” – “the Place Where He found Himself.”

In Jewish tradition, our custom is to say, “May Their Memory Be for a Blessing.” The best way of doing that is to let the loss lead us through the Midbar -- to do Life giving, Life changing, Life enhancing actions in the name of, or in memory of the one we have lost. It motivates us to find a way to trust in life again. Not everyone will choose these types of responses. Each person must search and be open to whatever it is that tugs upon their heart and soul -- and be willing to follow it.

Though we all struggle with the loss of our loved one in the physical world, we keep alive their continued presence in our lives by doing some of those things they loved and thought were important. It gives us a sense of purpose and keeps those who are no longer here closer to us. So, the next time you find yourself “In the Middle of Nowhere,” you just may “Find Your Way and Yourself!” 

Doing TOV and Choosing Life!
Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor

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