Judaism was and remains unique in its combination of universalism and particularism. We believe that God is the God of all humanity. He created all. He is accessible to all. He cares for all. He has made a covenant with all. Yet there is also a relationship with God that is unique to the Jewish people. It alone has placed its national life under His direct sovereignty
So as we celebrate Chanukah, spare a thought for the real victory, which was not military but spiritual. Jews were the people who valued marriage, the home, and peace between husband and wife, above the highest glory on the battlefield. In Judaism, the light of peace takes precedence over the light of war
Jewish history may seem to signify irretrievable loss, a fate that must be accepted. Jews never believed the evidence because they had something else to set against it – a faith, a trust, an unbreakable hope that proved stronger than historical inevitability
Moral dilemmas are situations in which doing the right thing is not the end of the matter. The conflict may be inherently tragic. Jacob, in this parsha, finds himself trapped in such a conflict: on the one hand, he ought not allow himself to be killed; on the other, he ought not kill someone else; but he must do one or the other.
How do we come to know that “God is in this place”? “By ve’anokhi lo yadati – not knowing the I. ”We sense the “Thou” of the Divine Presence when we move beyond the “I” of egocentricity. Only when we stop thinking about ourselves do we become truly open to the world and the Creator.
Normally we strive to individuate ourselves by differentiating ourselves from our parents. Isaac was not like this. He was content to be a link in the chain of generations, faithful to what his father had started. Isaac represents the faith of persistence, the courage of continuity/
Hidden beneath the surface of Parshat Chayei Sarah, for example, is another story, alluded to only in a series of hints. Here are three clues in the text...
Learning to honor G-d by honoring those made in His image: Humankind.
Abraham gave birth to a new nation whose greatness consisted precisely in the ability to live by that voice and create something new in the history of mankind. “Go for yourself ” – believe in what you can become.
Recently, an entirely new scientific basis has been given to morality from two surprising directions: neo-Darwinism and the branch of mathematics known as Games theory. As we will see, the discovery is intimately related to the story of Noah and the covenant made between G-d and humanity after the Flood.
At the opening of the Torah, at the very beginning of creation, is foreshadowed the Jewish doctrine of revelation: that God reveals Himself to humanity not in the sun, the stars, the wind or the storm but in and through words – sacred words that make us co-partners with God in the work of redemption.
And so Moses dies, alone on a mountain with God as he had been all those years ago when, as a shepherd...
So, as Moses faced his own life’s end, what was there left to do? The book of Devarim contains and constitutes the answer.
The terms of Jewish history were about to shift from Divine initiative to human initiative. This is what Moses was preparing the Israelites for in the last month of his life. This is the epic significance of Nitzavim
The setting: Jerusalem some twenty centuries ago. The occasion: bringing first fruits to the Temple. Here is the scene as the Mishnah describes it. Throughout Israel, villagers would gather in the nearest of 24 regional centres. There, overnight, they would sleep in the open air. The next morning, the leader would summon the people with words from the book of Jeremiah (31:5): “Arise and let us go up to Zion, to the House of the Lord our God.”
Never be in too much of a rush to stop and come to the aid of someone in need of help. Rarely, if ever, will you better invest your time. It may take a moment but its effect may last a lifetime
If having a king is a good thing, why does God say that it means that the people are rejecting Him? If it is a bad thing, why does God tell Samuel to give the people what they want even if it is not what God would wish them to want?
Remarkably, despite the exiles and horrors of history, Jews did not see themselves as victims. This is the message Moses imparts throughout sefer Devarim: Never define yourself as a victim
Greatness is humility. This idea – counter-intuitive, unexpected, life-changing – is one of the great contributions of the Torah to Western civilization and found in the words of Moses in this week's sedra
A key to help unlock the entire project outlined by Moses in Sefer Devarim, the final book of the Torah, from a most unlikely source...
Wishing you a Tzom kal (an easy fast)
The great leaders of Israel were the great defenders of Israel, people who saw the good within the not-yet-good. That is why they were listened to when they urged people to change and grow. THat is how it was in the time of Moses; that is how it remains today
The Torah is not myth but anti-myth, a deliberate insistence on removing the magical elements from the story and focusing relentlessly on the human drama
God was saying, “From My perspective, seeing the future, it would have been better to send women, because they love and cherish the land and would never come to speak negatively about it. However, since you are convinced that these men are worthy and do indeed value the land, I give you permission to go ahead and send them.”