Cover image for The extraordinary nature of ordinary things
The extraordinary nature of ordinary things
Leder, Steven Z.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
[West Orange, N.J.] : Behrman House, [1999]

Physical Description:
vii, 136 pages ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BM755.L398 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Finding meaning in the mundane is just a matter of knowing where to look. Herewith, the miraculous nature of everyday life is explored. Through vignettes at turns funny and poignant, Rabbi Leder points out those easily overlooked connections between everyday experiences and the teachings of Judaism. God and spirituality can be found in every aspect of our daily routines. Ordinary things--a pet frog, a weekend fishing trip, a roller coaster ride--become extraordinary when reexamined through Jewish eyes. Woven throughout Rabbi Leder's essays are midrashic texts, talmudic excerpts, and passages from the Torah, reflecting thousands of years of Jewish wisdom. Whether recalling a memorable walk along the beach with Dad, teaching a child the commandment of tzedakah, or stepping into the shoes of an anxious father-to-be as he paces the halls of the maternity ward, these stories reveal Judaism's power to illuminate our lives. On child-rearing: Eleven Suggestions for Raising a Mensch On the paradox of modern life: You can't put one tuchus in two chairs. On miracles: The miraculous is the common and the constant: birth, teaching, our breath. Discover The Extraordinary Nature of Ordinary Things.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

It is through the unremarkable events of daily life that we discover universal and wondrous spiritual truths. Finding meaning in the mundane is just a matter of knowing where to look, says Leder, a rabbi at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. The author notes that it's hard to find the sacred in the everyday when every day is a blur. Through vignettes both poignant and funny, Leder points out connections between our everyday experiences and the teachings of Judaism. Leder uses stories about an accident-prone pet frog, handing over pocket change to a homeless person, a weekend fishing trip and a roller-coaster ride to show how God can be found in the nooks and crannies of our familiar routines. Leder incorporates thousands of years of Jewish wisdom in his stories by weaving into them passages from the Torah, the Talmud and Midrash. His stories are an engaging way to explore Judaism's relevance to our lives, and his anecdotes show us that true holiness can be found in the humble corners of daily life. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One Life "Where are you running to?" asked the Talmud professor of a young yeshiva student hurrying by. "I'm rushing home to look over the High Holy Day prayer book before I have to lead services at my congregation," the student replied, trying to catch his breath. "The prayer book hasn't changed since last year," said the old sage. "But perhaps you have. Go home and look over yourself."                                                      Chassidic Story The meaning of life--no one can tell us where to search; no road map points the way. Still, to be human is to wonder about our purpose on earth. Every Rosh Hashanah Jews ask, "Did we manage to lift ourselves above our own petty concerns? Did we rise above the mundane and find spiritual fulfillment? Did we lead a meaningful life?" We call these questions cheshbone hanefesh , the scrutiny of our soul. Since I use a Jewish pocket calendar every year, just before Rosh Hashanah I go through my own ritual of cheshbone hanefesh in a most graphic way. Before I discard the last year's calendar, I transfer all of the important dates I want to remember to the new year's calendar. I flip through page after page, week after week, month after month. The amazing thing is that I actually transfer so little of last year's information to the new year ahead. The birthdays get transferred year to year, the anniversaries, the yahrtzeits, the holidays. But the rest--the appointments, meetings, dinners, reminders, and notes--the tangle of activity with which I busied myself for an entire year, is simply tossed in the trash. The only things that remain constant in my life, in anyone's life, are those sacred connections of family and friendships that survive year after year, generation after generation. It is a simple truth each of us knows. On days like Rosh Hashanah, the importance of family, friends, kindness, and love seems perfectly clear. The problem is that during the rest of the year we drift away from what really matters. We forget that every day is ours to fill ... in our calendars and in our lives. When we look back at the calendar of our lives how many pages are worth saving? We schedule our business appointments--mastering the lessons of time management and efficiency. But do we really manage our time well? Have we celebrated with our children? Have we visited our aging parents and grandparents or made that phone call to the friend whose loved one is sick? Have we hugged each other enough? Do our children, our parents, our brothers and sisters, our partners in life and love, know what they mean to us? Time is finite and insight elusive. Sometimes the search seems futile, lonely, and unsure. But if there is meaning in life--real, deep, eternal meaning--it is hiding in that force which drives us to be with each other. A child's smile, the warmth of human love, surviving pain, God's beautiful earth and its creatures, knowing that the music of our lives must someday cease--therefore how precious is the melody while it lasts--all of this is meaning, all of this is sacred, all of this can be ours. (Continues...) Copyright © 1999 Steven Z. Leder. All rights reserved.