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The other book is not without these things, but it comes with a condition: they must be sanctified, used responsibly, turned to the common good. From beginning to end Judaism teaches us to enjoy and affirm life. But it teaches that this is not an easy thing if we are to enjoy and affirm other people’s lives as well as our own. There is a code, a law, a covenant, a discipline, and without these things pleasure turns to ashes and life into a passing shadow that leaves no trace. In the ram’s horn is a plea, from heaven and from Jewish history: Choose life.

Adapted from “Covenant & Conversation,” a collection of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s parshiyot hashavua essays, to be published by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem (www.korenpub.com), in conjunction with the Orthodox Union.

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Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth, is the author of many books of Jewish thought, most recently “The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning.”
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