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Love the Sinner, Not the Sin
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…If it’s easy, simple, elementary, pragmatically justified – there is no need for faith… How does the sanctity of a Jew express itself? Through the interpretation of mitzvos… – Rabbi Soloveitchik Rabbi Soloveitchik taught us that “easy” mitzvos don’t sanctify a person. They have no redemptive influence. It is the difficult ones, the ones that […]
Shoftim: The Value of Life
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“…we’re more protected from a bad tuna fish sandwich than a nuclear bomb…” – Jackie Mason (commenting on the Iran nuclear agreement) Man is created “in the image of God” and, therefore, possesses inherent dignity and worth. The rabbis teach that this inherent worth is the reason that man was created as an individual and […]
To Swim With the Fishes
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Ambition or integrity? Which of these two qualities should take priority in our lives… and what do fish have to do with it? As it turns out, fish have a great deal to do with how we understand ourselves and our mission in the world. But to understand why and how, we must first appreciate […]
The Challenge of Wealth
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The commonly held view is that wealth is an impediment to a meaningful spiritual life; that wealth is accompanied by necessary hubris that makes humility and godliness nearly impossible. In this view, it is the poor who, seemingly because of their poverty and need, who gravitate toward spirituality. But is this “commonly held view” accurate? […]
Can You “Google” It?: The Power of Paradox and Mystery
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Is there a teleological suspension of the ethical? The existentialist philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, asked this question when contemplating the Akeda. He could not grasp how a benevolent God could command Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. His question leads us to a confrontation with fundamental mystery and internal contradiction, with paradox. In the face of […]
No Man Is an Island
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…Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend? – Carole King Passion. Hubris. Foolishness. When is a man’s charge to war a “call of righteousness” and when is it ego? Men all too often become consumed with their passions to right a perceived slight; all too often set afire by their quest for […]
Given Eyes to See: Seeing is Not Always Believing
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Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away. They say that you cannot tell a book by its cover. True, but more damning is that we very often are reluctant to make an effort to look closely enough to see the thing itself, to see deeper than the superficial. As […]
Rodef Shalom: Peace, Peace You Shall Pursue
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We live in a world of turmoil – political, geopolitical, spiritual. Too often it seems that turmoil and strife are fundamental to our natures, but they are not. We want peace; we seek peace; we pray for peace – not because it is a hopeless dream, but because it is the gift God promises us. […]
Seven: The Power of Numbers
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Numbers have power and significance. Some numbers have greater significance than others, often due to their properties as primes or unique, or their role in anchoring our numbering system. The number one is unique. It is the identity number. It is, by definition, singular. “Who Knows One?” goes the Passover song. “One is our G-d […]
This Day: Derech Eretz and the Study of Torah
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Our modern culture teaches us to “stop and smell the roses.” To relax, “take a load off”. We push ourselves too relentlessly, we are told. We need to take time and “de-stress”, as if all actions that we perform are of equal value and weight. It is not that we need to stop what we […]