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Arthur Szyk (1894; Lodz, Poland – 1951; New Canaan, USA) was a driven man determined to serve his people through his art. A passionate supporter of Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Zionists from at least the mid-1930’s, Szyk’s art almost always had a political edge. As we noted on these pages arch 12 & 19 2010, the Szyk Haggadah (1934 -1936) was originally an explicitly anti-Fascist creation. Therefore the recent publication by Historicana of “Heroes of Ancient Israel: Playing Card Art of Arthur Szyk” is notable for its lack of overt political content. Indeed, its strength lies in a subtler affirmation of Jewish sovereignty and wisdom.
In this week’s parshah Moshe Rabbeinu recounts ma’mad Har Sinai – the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai. Additionally, the Torah warns us earlier in the parshah not to forget the revelation that we witnessed at Har Sinai, for as the pasuk says: “Only beware for yourself and greatly beware for your soul, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen and lest you remove them from your heart all the days of your life, and make them known to your children and your children’s children” (Devarim 4:9).
For today's Jew seeking to grow spiritually, there's mussar, and then there is modern psychology. Armed with 20th century research on how behaviors develop and how humans create internal change, today's Jewish do-gooder has an arsenal of tools beyond Pirkei Avos and the mussar masters to work on problems like, say, gossiping or overeating.
Anthony Weiner is the latest in a long line of public figures caught by surprise at the unveiling of their own closet misdeeds. Weiner (and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the still-presumed-innocent Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and so many others before them) lived in a bubble of false security, created in part by their own hubris. Perhaps their biggest mistake, however, was believing their personal lives were somehow sacrosanct, impermeable, separate and apart from their public lives.
The couple had barely completed their brief intake papers, which included a small handwriting sample, when, her eyes blazing with fury, the wife pounded on the small table between us and yelled, "He has to grow up! I need a husband who is a real partner, not a lazy good-for-nothing who won't take responsibility and is totally clueless about my needs!" Her husband sat hunched in his chair, looking like a hapless cat which had somehow survived the spin cycle in a washing machine.
Rabbi Dan Roth's very first day teaching in yeshiva did not at all go as planned. After learning in kollel for many years in some of the best yeshivos in Israel, Rabbi Roth got his first job teaching in a program for teens-at-risk. A short time before taking the job, he wrote a sefer on modern-day lessons gleaned from the teachings of Pirkei Avos. In the process of writing the book, he realized that he had a talent for making Torah concepts relevant and down-to-earth.
We are winning the war on child abuse. We shall fight this war until we win. We shall fight the abusers in the yeshivas, the synagogues, the mikvehs. We shall fight them in the hills, the valleys, on the land and on the beaches. We shall fight with every ounce of our strength, until we win.