The Duality Of Jewish Time

According to the Torah, the first month of the year is Nissan. This was the day the earth became dry after the Flood (Gen. 8:13). It was the day the Israelites received their first command as a people (Ex. 12:2).

Judaism’s Three Voices

There are holy times and holy places, and each time and place has its own integrity, its own setting in the total scheme of things.

Is There Such Thing As Lashon Tov?

The disciples of Hillel hold that at a wedding you should sing that the bride is beautiful, whether she is or not.

Othello, WikiLeaks And Mildewed Walls

The most compelling illustration of what the tradition is speaking about when it talks of the gravity of motsi shem ra, slander, and lashon hara, evil speech, is Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello.

Spontaneity: Good Or Bad?

Why then was spontaneity wrong for Nadav and Avihu yet right for Moshe Rabbeinu? The answer is that Nadav and Avihu were Kohanim, Priests. Moses was a Navi, a Prophet.

Why Civilizations Die

Jews did not abandon the past. We still refer constantly to the sacrifices in our prayers. But they did not cling to the past. Nor did they take refuge in irrationality.

The Dimensions Of Sin

Regardless of guilt and responsibility, if we commit a sin we have transgressed a boundary.

On Jewish Character

Aaron, according to the most favored explanation, realized that he could not stop the people directly by refusing their request, so he adopted a stalling maneuver.

G-d’s Shadow

Art in Hebrew – omanut – has a semantic connection with emunah, faith or faithfulness. A true artist is faithful both to his materials and to the task...

Between Truth And Peace

Moses’s motto was: Let the law pierce the mountain. Aaron, however, loved peace and pursued peace and made peace between man and man.

Leadership Means Making Space

All human authority needs checks and balances if it is to remain uncorrupted. In particular, political and religious leadership, keter malchut and keter kehunah, should never be combined.

Building Builders

It is not what G-d does for us that transforms us, but what we do for G-d.

G-d’s Nudge

If G-d does not want slavery, if He regards it as an affront to the human condition, why did He not abolish it immediately?

Deed And Creed

Admittedly, the Talmud questions how free the Israelites actually were, and it uses an astonishing image.

The Power Of Ruach

In Bereishit Rabbah, it is indicated that the division of the sea was, as it were, programmed into Creation from the outset. It was less a suspension of nature than an event written into nature from the beginning, to be triggered at the appropriate moment in the unfolding of history.

The March Of Folly

That is the context in which we should read the story of Pharaoh and his advisers. This is one of the first recorded instances of the march of folly. How does it happen?

The Birth Of History

The aspect of G-d that appears in the days of Moses and the Israelites is radically different, and it’s only because we are so used to the story that we find it hard to see how radical it was.

The Challenge Of Jewish Leadership

Korach’s motives were wrong. He spoke like a democrat but what he wanted was to be an autocrat. He wanted to be a leader himself.

Grandparents

Between parents and children, he said, there are often tensions. Parents worry about their children. Children sometimes rebel against their parents. The relationship is not always smooth. Not so with grandchildren.

The Space Between

In Judaism kadosh, holy, means separation. To sanctify is to separate. Why? Because when we separate, we create order. We defeat chaos. We give everything and everyone their space.

Sibling Rivalry

Joseph has the misfortune of being the youngest. He symbolizes the Jewish condition. His brothers are older and stronger than he is. They resent his presence. They see him as a trouble maker. The fact that their father loves him only makes them angrier and more resentful.

Speech Therapy

In the end Joseph and his brothers had to live through real trauma before they were able to recognize one another’s humanity, and much of the rest of their story – the longest single narrative in the Torah – is about just that.

Collective Responsibility

It is one thing to commit a crime, another to witness someone committing a crime and failing to prevent it. We might hold a bystander guilty, but not in the same degree.

The Character Of Jacob

What Jacob shows, by his sheer quick-wittedness, is that the strength of the strong can also be their weakness.

Why Did Isaac Love Esau?

Isaac loved Esau because he simply did not know who or what Esau was. But there is another possible answer: that Isaac loved Esau precisely because he did know what Esau was.

Abraham: A Life Of Faith

The Jewish people mourned and wept, and then rose up and built the future. This is their unique strength and it came from Abraham, as we see in this week’s parsha.

The Binding Of Isaac: A New Interpretation

It is this principle that underlies the entire practice of child sacrifice, which was widespread throughout the pagan world. The Torah is horrified by child sacrifice, which it sees as the worst of all sins.

On Being A Jewish Parent

What then does the Torah say about Abraham? The answer is unexpected and very moving. Abraham was chosen simply to be a father.

The G-d Of Creation And The Land Of Israel

Laws shape a society, and a society needs space. A sacred society needs sacred space, a holy land. Hence Jews and Judaism need their own land.

The Uniqueness Of Sukkot

The Sukkah represents the singular character of Jewish history, the experience of exile and homecoming, the long journey across the wilderness of time.

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