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Articles by Yanki Tauber

More than 200 articles on all areas of spirituality, Jewish traditions and daily life--from the pen of our senior editor.

Whacking the River
Our source of sustenance is neither regular nor predictable. It does not well up from a channel grooved in the earth, nor is it treaded up from a hole in the ground. Our eyes are forever trained upward, in hope and expectation, and in faith . . .
The Power of Forgotten Knowledge
The obvious question: Why are we made to forget? Obvious answer: Because there are certain things we should not know. Obvious question #2: So why are we made to know them, or almost know them, in the first place?
The Fake Enemy
The purpose of the exercise was to move Jacob and family from Hebron to Egypt, about 200 miles as the crow flies across the Sinai Peninsula. But what a convoluted route this exercise took!
The Eighth Sphere
The teacher has locked his door, the mentor has disappeared, and one's own soul has turned dark and cold. When no solution for the darkness is in sight, this can only mean one thing: the darkness itself is the solution
Climbing the Ladder
According to the ancient mystics, all actions of man -- indeed all workings of creation -- derive from two general forces: love and awe. More specifically, there is "lower awe", "lower love", "higher love", and "higher awe" -- in that order
Body and Soul
We're in this world. It seems real to us, but it's really an ingenious charade designed to make us think that it's real, act as if it's real, and thus allow it to feed on our vitality (didn't I see this in a movie somewhere?)
Bachelors in Heaven
You're marrying the man you love. But there's this one strange thing: no one knows where he's been or what he's been doing for the last three years. What does this bode for your marriage?
My Daughter's Ten Bicycles
Physicists are looking for ten dimensions. The Kabbalists speak of ten spheres of reality. And yesterday I bought my 10-year-old daughter ten bicycles
The Temporary Dwelling
Are we transient beings for whom movement is life and "at rest" an inscription for the gravestone? Are we rooted souls, for whom the "journeys" of life are just so many guises of the singular quest for home?
What Is Time?
Is time a line? Is it a circle, or perhaps a series of interlocking circles? Or is it a spiral? A swinging pendulum? A terrain? A sea? An organism?
Juice
It's as if you would ask the Creator, a billion times a second, "Seeing what's become of it, would you do it all over again?"
Going and Coming
We are all warriors, for we each harbor the conviction that we were born to make a difference
The Myth of the Self-Made Man
America has spawned many wonderful myths. The most wonderful thing about these myths is that they can be made true. There is, however, one American myth that is very dangerous, particularly for us Jews.
The Extremist
The extremist makes us feel uncomfortable, because he makes hypocrites of us all: if we all acted on what we believed in, we'd all be extremists...
Sending
If we stop and think about what we’re doing at any given point in our lives, we’ll discover that, as often as not, we’re doing something for someone else, or sending someone else to do something for ourselves.
The Vertical Life
We "raise" our children, "climb" the ladders of our careers, "rise" to life's occasions, think "highly" of people we admire, "aspire" to high ideals, regard "heaven" as representative of all that is good and "lofty". Why all this uppity talk?
Short Stop
Both parents offered the same advice, with the same degree of sincerity. But as the years went by, there was a change: the first child heard exhaustion in their voices, while the second child heard restraint
The Third Way
"I'm going to tell him everything," insisted the first father. "I want a son," objected father #2, "not a puppet." "I'll tell him everything," said the third father. "But I won't tell him what it means"
A Second Chance
We all appreciate a statement like “There’s always a second chance.” It fits quite nicely on the December 31 page of an Inspirational Sayings Calendar. But how does it mesh with real life?
The Fifth Year
Is it what we do, or why we do it? Do we enter life to play a part in a pre-established cosmic plan, or do we also have a role in defining the significance of our actions?
The Escape Hatch
You're trapped in your life. Whichever way you turn, you encounter walls -- unshakable habits, antagonistic colleagues, elusive desires. There is a way out, but you're too big to squeeze through
War
Love is the hallmark of Judaism; some of us even claim that we taught that word to the world. This Shabbat, however, we will stand in our synagogues and listen to a reading from the Torah that tells us to hate.
The Glory of the Single-Minded Person
Single-minded people aren't much fun. We wouldn't want to be like them -- well, maybe just a little bit...
The Big Deal About Rich People
The Talmud tells us that "Rabbi [Judah HaNassi] honored the rich." Many puzzle over this statement: does the fact that Joe has more money than Frank make him a better person?
Oxen and Cows
There are four approaches to understanding what the Torah is all about: a) it means what it says; b) it's all a metaphor; c) it should be read from the top down; or d) from the bottom up
The Ten Commandments Series
Billions of people have heard of the Ten Commandments. Less common, however, is the knowledge that this 10-point encapsulation of G-d's message to man reads in two directions: from top to bottom, and from side to side
Four Cups
What is the difference between being "taken out", "delivered", "redeemed", and being made truly, eternally, inherently and intrinsically free?
Moses' Mother
Somewhere there is a boundary, a line that separates the near from the far, the within from the without. If you can straddle that line, if you can stand with one foot inside and the other foot outside, you can be both
Six Kinds of Perfection
Adam was so perfect that he went looking for imperfection. Noah went by the book, Abraham by love, Isaac honed himself to nothingness, Jacob was a whole of infinite parts and Joseph found perfection in challenge
The Lightness of Being
If you recorded every word you said for 24 hours, you'd probably find hundreds of references to light. Light, brightness, radiance -- these are the metaphors we use when we wish to speak about hope, wisdom, and goodness
Seeking the Other
One would think that after all that Rachel had gone through in the last 14 years, there’d be at least a moment of contentment. Isn’t it strange to name your firstborn child “I want another son”?
The Torah's Esau
How should a person be judged—by what he or she is, or by what he or she can be? A mysterious Parshah commentary by Rashi, a Talmudic adage and a chapter from the chassidic work Tanya provide an unconventional formula.
If G-d Revealed Himself to You, How'd You Know It's Him?
You're sitting in your room and meditating when you hear a voice. Is it the real thing? Is it another of your roommate's pranks? Or just your imagination running wild? How to know?
It's Been Done Before
Sometimes it can be frustrating being a Jew. No matter what you do, one of your grandfathers or grandmothers has already done it. How can one ever do anything original with such ancestors?
Sons of Noah
Noah lived 950 years. That’s enough time to do everything wrong and everything right.
The Hovering Spirit
"And the earth was chaotic and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of G-d hovered upon the face of the waters." A spooky verse, a Talmudic law, and an empowering Midrash.
I Love You More Than You Love Me
You can always tell a married couple by their arguments. You won’t see these arguments anywhere else, for the simple reason that they don't make any sense anywhere else.
Waters of Strife
The Price of Leadership
A common denominator in all the explanations of the “Waters of Strife” incident is the implication that whatever the problem was, that wasn’t really the problem. Basically, G‑d is getting Moses on a technicality.
Between Jobs
We tend to think of life as composed of two kinds of time: "real time" devoted to career, family and friends; and "in-between" time -- waiting-room time, airport time, between-jobs time. Not so, says the Rebbe
Doing Nothing
The finish line is in sight; a few more surges of body and mind and you are there. But at this very moment, you stop thinking, stop concentrating, cease all conscious effort, allowing a wave of nothingness to engulf you
The King, the Peasant and the Nightingale
The king commanded his coachman to halt at the peasant's door. "How are you enjoying my gift?" he inquired of his beloved subject
Do We Lie to Our Children?
Even if we manage to avoid saying outright untruths, there seems to be something intrinsically dishonest in the process we call “education.”
The Eyes of a Child
We remember people, events, scenes and feelings from our childhood. But do we remember the self we were? The manner in which we perceived reality?
Why Do Jews Pray?
A person praying is a standing paradox, a swaying contradiction, a self divided. The body is praying for life and existence; the soul is praying to escape life, to transcend existence
Riding with the Moon
Did you ever wonder why our calendar has both weeks and months? Why follow two different cycles that never match up?
Oil and Wine
Wine has no secrets: when a thing is what it is, it's the same from the inside looking out and from the outside looking in
Moses Disappears
When a Jew abandons Torah, does he or she lose their connection with G-d? Or is it the Torah that loses its connection with G-d?
Four Reasons to Be Happy
Because it’s a good way to get things done, because it’s a good thing to do, because it’s a happy time, and because of a fourth reason that’s not really a reason.
Four Excuses
The "That's How G-d Made Me" excuse, the "Sorry I Lost It" excuse, the "I'm Special" excuse, and the "What's the Use" excuse
How to Have
How do you measure the things you own? By the degree of your investment in them? By the intensity of your desire for them? By how possible it is to get rid of them?
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