Monday, April 30, 2012

Favorite Proverbs - April 30, 2012 (from the Temple Beth-El Adelante for May 2012)

Favorite Proverbs – gems from the focus-text of one of our TBE study groups and why they apply to us today!

Proverbs 3:27-28 - Don’t hold back bounty from one who earned it when it’s within your hand’s power to perform. When you have something that can be helpful, don’t say to your friend at the moment you are asked,―Go and come back, and tomorrow I’ll give.  How many times have we seen someone withhold their support when they have the ability and wherewithal to be helpful in a cause through their energy or generosity? There may be reasons that a person can’t give at a particular moment, but this saying seems to refer to individuals who would like to make it appear that they are giving, but that, when an urgent need arises, they are unwilling to come forward. The values of tzedakah, righteous giving, and g’milut chasadim, performing acts of lovingkindness, require us to follow the words of the sage Hillel, “If not now, when?”
6:20-21- Keep your father’s command and do not abandon your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart at all times, garland them around your neck. What are some of the lessons you learned from your parents that remain with you? I learned from my father the importance of patiently paying attention to detail in creating something, and from my mother, perseverance and commitment. What did you learn from your parents?
9:10 - The beginning of wisdom is reverence of the Eternal One and knowing the Holy One is discernment.  This is a statement about God, but it is, even more, a statement about us as human beings. This is a way of saying, “Be humbled by the wide-ranging and diverse world that you live in, and the many types of knowledge that you don’t yet know.” Having discernment and wisdom does not only mean knowing what you know – it is also knowing what you don’t know.
11:1- Cheating scales are God’s loathing; a true weight-stone is God’s pleasure.    Honesty in weights is mentioned in the book of Leviticus as well. This reference to honesty in ancient commerce still applies today. It calls for us to be truthful in all types of business, contracts, and negotiations. No one should misrepresent their own abilities and past employment or the value of something they are going to sell (a modern version of NOT turning an odometer to a lower total on a used car – or portraying a forged document or artifact as authentic).
12:19-True speech stands firm always, but a lying tongue for a mere moment.   In this day of the primacy and longevity of both true and false statements on the internet, how does this statement apply to our lives today? Even without the internet, a lie repeated in communal conversation, on television news or in a newspaper can easily persist as a seeming truth. We have to be careful and discerning regarding the statements we hear. It may not only be true speech, but true action, that can dispel a rumor or a falsehood, so that a lie’s “life of its own remains as short as possible.
17:1 - Better a dry crust with tranquility than a house filled with feasting and quarrel.      What is more important – possessions or peace?   This verse sees having a modest but tranquil household, where everyone gets along with each other, as preferable to one that is abundant in possessions and parties but also teeming with strife, disrespect and conflict. Peace prevails over possession in this proverb.
20:28- Let a ruler keep faithful trust that the seat of leadership be upheld in faithfulness. We need only look at the headlines in our area to see how some leaders breached the trust of their constituents. In any election year, we look for candidates who, we believe, will make sound decisions on our behalf, who will stay true to their views and explain any changes in their perspective, and who will remember that he or she is always in a relationship with us. Some people may see positions of leadership as being defined by the power they offer a person when, in fact, what is even more important, is the set of responsibilities that come with being a leader, including preserving the public trust. Being a leader means being wise, humble, hopeful, and being able to inspire, teach and unify a community.

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