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When the “I” is Silent
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life This week’s parsha relates a powerful, primal vision of prayer: Jacob, alone and far from home, lies down for the night, with only stones for a pillow, and dreams of a ladder, with angels ascending and descending. This is the initial encounter with the “house of God” that would […]
The Courage of Persistence
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life There is a strange passage in the life of Isaac, ominous in its fore- shadowing of much of later Jewish history. Like Abraham, Isaac finds himself forced by famine to go to Gerar, in the land of the Philistines. There, like Abraham, he senses that his life […]
On Judaism and Islam
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life The language of the Torah is, in Erich Auerbach’s famous phrase, “fraught with background.” Behind the events that are openly told are shadowy stories left for us to decipher. Hidden beneath the surface of Parshat Chayei Sarah, for example, is another story, alluded to only in a series […]
God and Strangers
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life God appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men were standing over against him; and when he saw them, he ran […]
Four Dimensions of the Journey
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life Within the first words that God addresses to the bearer of a new covenant, there are already hints as to the nature of the heroism he would come to embody. The multi-layered command “Lech lecha – go forth” contains the seeds of Abraham’s ultimate vocation. Rashi, following an […]
A Drama in Four Acts
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life The parsha of Noach brings to a close the eleven chapters that precede the call to Abraham and the beginning of the special relationship between him and his descendants, and God. During these eleven chapters, the Torah gives prominence to four stories: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the […]
The Three Stages of Creation
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life “And God said, let there be… And there was… and God saw that it was good.” Thus unfolds the most revolutionary as well as the most influential account of creation in the history of the human spirit. In Rashi’s commentary, he quotes Rabbi Isaac who questioned why […]
Emotional Intelligence
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In March 2015 I had a public conversation at Yale with the University’s President Peter Salovey. The occasion was quite an emotional one. It celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of the Marshall Scholarships, created by the British parliament as a way of expressing thanks to the United States for the Marshall Plan, that helped Western Europe […]
The Second Mountain
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What do you do when you have achieved it all, when you have risen to whatever career heights fate or providence has in store for you? What do you do as age lengthens its shadow, the sun sinks, and the body is no longer as resilient or the mind as sharp as it once was? […]
The World is Waiting for You
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Something remarkable happens in this week’s parsha, almost without our noticing it, that changed the very terms of Jewish existence, and has life-changing implications for all of us. Moses renewed the covenant. This may not sound dramatic, but it was. Thus far, in the history of humanity as told by the Torah, God had made three […]