Build a Home, not a House

Growing up in the 1980s, I was raised on a rather immoderate cultural diet of popular TV shows such as “Dallas” and “Dynasty.” The heroes of these shows inhabited houses that were architecturally grandiose and aesthetically pleasing to the eye of the flesh. These towering structures were indeed, in Hemingway’s immortal words about Paris, a […]

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Work for Goals, Not Roles

In 2013, when Shimon Peres died at the age of 93, he was considered to be one of the world’s leading retired statesmen. This achievement was all the more astonishing, given the fact that Shimon Peres ran for prime minister five times (in 1977, 1981, 1984, 1988 and 1996), and never won a single election! […]

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Life as a Calling

Ever since my adolescence, I intuited that there must be more to life than the material dimension of human existence. That the human story is about so much more than what Karl Marx called “Homo faber,” – the human being as the producing and manufacturing animal. This deep-seated intuition, that there’s more to life than […]

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Vision and Detail

Throughout my life, I was privileged to meet with three Israeli Prime Ministers. One of them was Ehud Barak. As I sat down with PM Barak, the first thing I told him was that his eulogy of Yoni Netanyahu, the sole Israeli soldier who died during the raid on Entebbe in 1976, is in my […]

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Carrying Our Brokenness

My paternal grandfather, Shlomo Sessler, was a Holocaust refugee. I grew up listening to him recount the saga of his miraculous escape from the claws of Nazism time and again. In contrast to many other survivors, my grandfather found existential catharsis in incessantly retelling the story of his flight from the looming menace of genocide […]

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Shoshanah Ovitz passed away this month. She was 105 years old. Shoshanah was an Auschwitz survivor, and an observant Jewish woman. Last year, aged 104, Shoshanah took a photo with all her descendants at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. There are four hundred and one people in this picture. For the photo includes Shoshanah Ovitz […]

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To Live is To Give

The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea both receive water from the Jordan River. However, there is a striking difference between the two seas. The Sea of Galilee is replete with life, whereas the Dead Sea, as its name aptly intimates, is utterly devoid of life. Why is that? A contemporary sage argued that […]

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“Man is condemned to be free,” stated French philosopher Sartre. Judaism is in accord. For if we weren’t free agents, then we would have neither a moral footing to abhor serial murderers and rapists, nor the validity to praise the righteous and the just. Sadly, many people perpetrate what psychologist Fromm called “Escape From Freedom.” […]

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In the Torah, the book of  Exodus is essentially the “Book of Freedom.” Both that which philosopher Isaiah Berlin deemed as “Negative Liberty,” – freedom from external political coercion, and also “Positive Liberty,” – the freedom to grow in soul, and to lead an elevated life of growth and altruism. From all the manifold Biblical […]

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The Universality of Judaism

We read this week about the receiving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, and the corresponding election of our people as G-d’s vehicle, to proliferate monotheism and humanism throughout the world. Lest we err into thinking that this vocation entails a-priori privilege over others, our sages wisely named this week’s Torah portion after a […]

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