Praying for Iran

Yesterday, while watching the news, I was on the verge of tears. I saw many hundreds of Iranian students, chanting out loud with passion and vigor: “Release our country!” in sacred protestation against their country’s oppressive and vile regime. This supreme act of civil disobedience was perpetrated in broad daylight, and in open defiance of […]

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A Life Worth Living

The title of our parshah is a veritable oxymoron. It is called “Vayehi,” (“And he lived”), while in actuality – “everybody” dies in this parshah. Jacob dies, Joseph dies, and in the haftarah – the prophetic reading – King David dies. All three led dramatic and intense lives. Like all of us – Jacob, Joseph, […]

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Two Concepts of Time

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, one of the premier spiritual giants of our time, argues that modern Jews lead an amphibian existence. By this he means by way of metaphor, that like frogs for example, modern Jews ought to inhabit, and even master, two distinct ontological spheres. Frogs, as we know, are amphibian creatures – they can […]

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Joseph: The Birth of Meritocracy

Judaism came to the world in an age in which hereditary privilege was the way of the world. Princes were poised to inherit their fathers’ monarchical status and become kings, and slaves were doomed to remain subjugated and enslaved for perpetuity. In the Torah, as Nietzsche observes in his book “On the Genealogy of Morals,” […]

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The landslide victory of the Conservative Party in the UK last week, is truly of historic proportions. It is the greatest electoral victory for the Tories since Thatcher’s victory in 1987. For Labour, it is their most crushing defeat since 1935. Prima facie, these elections were about Brexit, with the slogan: “Get Brexit Done,” dictating […]

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The Inevitability of Human Suffering

Jacob loses his beloved wife Rachel in this week’s Torah portion. Rachel died young, while giving birth to her second son Benyamin. Jacob is surely devastated. Jacob’s life was replete with tragedy. He had to leave his parental home, and run for his life. He was exploited and manipulated in business by his crooked uncle […]

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Genesis and Globalization

Globalization is considered to be a distinctly modern socio-economic and cultural phenomenon. Globalization is about the exchange and transport of individuals, ideas and goods throughout the globe. In this week’s parshah we read about another aspect of globalization – spiritual globalization. The Almighty promises Jacob: “You will spread forth to the west, to the east, […]

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Professor David Baum, an Orthodox Jew and an ardent Zionist, was Great Britain’s leading Pediatrician, until his untimely death, at the age of 59. Professor Baum was dedicated to combatting child mortality in the world in general and in the developing world in particular. One of Dr. Baum’s chief and towering achievements was the building […]

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To Be Blessed With Everything

The Torah states that “God blessed Abraham with everything.” One way to understand this statement, is that Abraham lead a multifaceted existence, in which he experienced all the highs and lows of the human condition. On the one hand, Abraham is admired by his contemporaries as a veritable living legend. His neighbors see him as […]

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Living with the Past

God tells Lot (Abraham’s nephew), and Lot’s family, not to look back upon the ruinous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, as they escape from these decadent and vile places to a better life elsewhere. But alas, Lot’s wife fails to adhere to the divine instruction not to completely look back. Lot’s wife fully turns around […]

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