After Yom Kippur

The best way I can describe our communal experience during Yom Kippur, is by resorting to the sublime poetry of the 19th century English poet William Blake, who reminds us that it is indeed possible to behold “Infinity in the palm of your hand, and Eternity in an hour.” For...

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The Fast of Gedaliah: A Warning from History

Many Jews don’t know that the day following Rosh Hashanah is a Jewish minor fast day. A minor fast day is roughly from sunrise to sunset. The fast day for the day after Rosh Hashanah is named after Gedaliah, the Jewish governor of Israel during the time of the Babylonian...

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It’s All About Your Family

Rosh Hashanah, according to the liturgy and the Talmud, is supposed to be, inter alia, about creation writ large, and the creation of humanity in particular. However, the Torah and Haftarah readings for Rosh Hashanah discuss family rupture, rather than creation. We read about a family breakup – the expulsion...

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It’s Up To You

Our parshah starts with a text which also appears in the Passover Haggadah, and which we read during the Seder night.In this text, we find a peculiar and twofold statement in the Hebrew, which reads: “Arami oved avi.” This three-word proclamation, can be interpreted in two very different ways. One...

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18 Years Later

Yesterday, 18 years ago, the most murderous terror attack in history took place. 2996 souls went to work, and never returned home. There is a cruel and bitter irony in the tragedy of 9/11 uniquely reserved for us Middle-Eastern Jews and immigrants. We who turned our back on the political...

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Hating Hate

Albert Einstein was one of the greatest scientific minds in history. He was also endowed with a broad philosophical outlook on the entirety of being, which propelled him to contemplate and ponder the sheer enigma and wonderment of existence, and articulate poetic statements about the underlying harmony and structure of...

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Defeating Defeatism

President Kennedy’s inaugural address is considered to this day to be one of the greatest speeches in the history of American politics. Kennedy did not write this speech all by himself. He was aided by his Jewish speechwriter Ted Sorensen. In his speech, the President spoke about all the great...

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One Word, Four Perspectives

The name of our parashah is Ekev. Rashi explains that it relates to the word “Akev” – which is Hebrew for heel, and hence alludes to mitzvoth which a person allegorically “steps upon with his heel” (namely, mitzvoth which might seem to us to be marginal or not so important)....

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Solipsism and Its Discontents

We are reading a very exciting parashah this Shabbat. Every parashah is exciting, but Parashat Va’etchanan is particularly replete with some of the most pivotal and foundational tenets of Jewish spirituality. Our parashah includes, amongst other things, the verse of Shma Yisrael, the first paragraph of the Shma, and the...

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Why fast on Tisha be’Av?

We fast on Tisha be’Av in solidarity with those amongst us who were expelled from their homes, or dispossessed. We fast in remembrance of those who were baselessly imprisoned, or mock-executed, or executed in actuality. We fast because we dare not forget those darkest of hours and days, in which...

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