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4 Heshvan 5778 -
? Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Why Be Jewish

The sages believed with great force that an agreement must be free to be binding. Yet we did not agree to be Jews. We were, most of us, born Jews. We were not there in Moses’ day when the agreement was made. We did not yet exist. How then can we be bound by the covenant?

The Limits Of Grief

The more we learn about the psychology of bereavement and the stages through which we must pass before loss is healed, so more the wisdom of Judaism’s ancient laws and customs becomes ever more clear.

Philosophy Or Prophecy

At the heart of Judaism is a twofold understanding of the nature of God and His relationship to the universe.

A People That Dwells Alone

Where then does Jewish singularity emerge? The clue lies in the precise wording of Bilaam’s blessing: “Behold it is a  people  that dwells alone.”

The Continuity Of Death And Life

In the Torah, law and narrative are intertwined for the very profound reason that G-d’s law is not arbitrary. It speaks to the human condition, arising out of human history.

Leadership Beyond Despair

We identify with the heroes of the Bible because, despite their greatness, they never cease to be human, nor do they aspire to be anything else. Hence the phenomenon of which the sedra of Beha’alotecha provides a shattering example: the vulnerability of some of the greatest religious leaders of all time, to depression and despair.

Longing To Be A Saint

Maimonides holds there is not one model of the virtuous life, but two. He calls them, respectively, the way of the saint and the sage. It is this deep insight that led Maimonides to his seemingly contradictory evaluations of the nazirite

Why Civilizations Die

Judaism survives due to Divine Providence and the foresight of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai who resisted cognitive breakdown, created solutions for tomorrow's problems, who did not seek refuge in the irrational, and who quietly built the Jewish future.

The Sin Offering

Why should unintentional sins require atonement at all? What guilt is involved? Had the offender known he would not have done what he did. Why then does he have to undergo a process of atonement?

Encampments & Journeys

In the sanctuary, the specific domain called “the holy” is where we meet God on His terms, not ours. Yet this too is God’s way of conferring dignity on mankind.

The Sabbath: First Day Or Last?

The Sanctuary as a human construct, mirrors the Divine creation of the universe. Each creation culminates in the Sabbath placing the sanctity of place in subordinate position to the holiness of time.

Who Is Honored?

In parshat Tetzaveh, for once Moses, the hero, the leader, the liberator, the lawgiver, is offstage. Instead our focus is on his elder brother Aaron who, elsewhere, is often in the background.

The Tabernacle’s Lesson

The story of the Creation of the World is told with the utmost brevity: a mere 34 verses. Why take some 15 times as long to tell the story of the Sanctuary?

A Nudge From Hashem

There are 613 commandments in the Torah. Why does Mishpatim, the first law code, begin where it does, concerned with slavery and freedom?

The Universality Of Wisdom

In parshat Yitro, Israel receives its first system of governance: a hierarchical structure of authority with Moses at the top. Why did this important development come, as it were, from outside?

The Power Of Ruach

What happens at the sea is poetic justice of the most exquisite kind. The powerful are now powerless, while the powerless have made their way to freedom.

The Necessity Of Asking Questions

Judaism is not a religion of blind obedience. Astonishingly of 613 commandments, there is no Hebrew word that means “to obey.” Judaism is the rarest of phenomena: a faith based on asking questions,

The Cup Of Hope

Pesach represents the start of the great journey of Jewish history – from slavery to freedom, Egypt to the Promised Land.

Who Am I?

When Moses asks, “Who am I?” He feels himself unworthy and uninvolved. He may have been Jewish by birth, but he had not suffered the fate of his people. How, then, could he become their leader?

Jewish Time

Only a civilization based on forgiveness can construct a future that is not an endless repetition of the past. That, surely, is why Judaism is the only civilization whose golden age is in the future.

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