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The Two Awakenings

Framing the epic events of this week’s sedrah are two objects: the two sets of tablets – the first given before, and the second after, the sin of the Golden Calf. Of the first, we read: “The tablets were the work of G-d; the writing was the writing of G-d, engraved on the tablets.”

Making Sense Of The Sin Offering

We think of a sin as something we did intentionally, yielding to temptation perhaps, or in a moment of rebellion. That is what Jewish law calls b’zadon in biblical Hebrew or b’mezid in rabbinic Hebrew. That is the kind of act we would have thought calls for a sin offering. But actually such an act cannot be atoned for by an offering at all. So how do we make sense of the sin offering?

Against Hate

We believe that God created each of us, regardless of color, class, culture or creed, in His image.

Yom Kippur Thoughts

Yom Kipper, the Day of Atonement, is the supreme moment of Jewish time, a day of fasting and prayer, introspection and self-judgment. At no other time are we so sharply conscious of standing before God, of being known by Him. But it begins in the strangest of ways.

The Call

We can be good at many things, but what gives a life direction and meaning is a sense of mission, of something we are called on to do. That is the significance of the opening word of today’s parsha, Vayikra.

Reconciliation vs. Vengeance

Judaism is less a philosophical system than a field of tensions – between universalism and particularism, for example, or exile and redemption, priests and prophets, cyclical and linear time, and so on.

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?

A Portable Home

With the synagogue, "Judaism created one of the greatest revolutions in the history of religion"

In Search Of Jewish Identity

As Jews became defined by religion, Christians could work to convert them--You can change your religion but you cannot change your race

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: The Fear Of Freedom

The episode of the spies has rightly puzzled commentators throughout the centuries. How could they have got it so wrong? The land, they said, was as Moses had promised. It was indeed “flowing with milk and honey.” But conquering it was impossible. “The people who live there are powerful, and the cities fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of the giant there … We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are … All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the titans there … We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and so we seemed in theirs” (Numbers 13:28-33).

The Struggle Of Faith

Why not paint Jacob in more attractive colors? It seems to me that the Torah is delivering, here as elsewhere, an extraordinary message: that if we can truly relate to God as God, in His full transcendence and majesty, then we can relate to humans as humans in all their fallibility.

Being Held Accountable

By any standards it was a shocking episode. Jacob had settled on the outskirts of the town of Shechem, ruled by Hamor. Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, goes out to see the town. Shechem, Hamor’s son, sees her, abducts and rapes her, and then falls in love with her and wants to marry her. He begs his father, “Get me this girl as my wife.”

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?

What Is The Theme Of The Stories Of Genesis?

he first 11 chapters of Genesis teach us many fundamentals of faith; Exodus to Deuteronomy is about revelation and redemption. But what are Genesis 12-50 about?

The Space Between Us

Abraham was acting on both occasions--the banishment of Ishmael and the sacrifice of Isaac--against his emotions, his paternal instincts. What is the Torah telling us about the nature of fatherhood?

How Shall We Live?

It is the most famous, majestic and influential opening of any book in literature: “In the beginning, G-d created the heavens and the earth.” What is surpassingly strange is the way Rashi – most beloved of all Jewish commentators – begins his commentary:

A Father’s Love

It's not difficult understanding why Rebecca loved Jacob, the real question's why Isaac loved Esau?

The Deep Power Of Joy

In Judaism, joy is the supreme religious emotion. Moses says again and again that joy is what we should feel in the land of Israel, the land given to us by God.

The Almighty’s Supreme Call To Man

Torah is neither a book of history nor science, it is, first and last, a book about how to live.

The Morality Of Love

Something implicit in the Torah from the very beginning becomes explicit in the book of Devarim. God is the God of love. More than we love Him, He loves us. Here, for instance, is the beginning of this week’s parshah: “If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love [et ha-brit ve-et ha-chessed] with you, as he swore to your ancestors. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers” (Deuteronomy 7:12-13).

The Universality Of Sukkot

Sukkot is the most universalistic of all festivals. At the same time, however, it is the most particularist of festivals. When we sit in the sukkah, we recall Jewish history

Pursuing Justice

Judaism is a religion of love but also a religion of justice, for without justice, love corrupts.

Babel, Then And Now

The Babel story is the 2nd in a 4-act drama that's unmistakably a connecting thread of Bereishit

Restoring Order and Maintaining Peace

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you fail. Such is life.

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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/rabbi-lord-jonathan-sacks/the-two-awakenings/2013/02/27/

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