The Talmud stipulates that if you hear of a devastating earthquake which killed multitudes of people, in some remote and distant corner of the world, then you should spiritually interpret this catastrophe and tragedy as an urgent call to self, to strive to grow in soul, and to undertake self-repairment, and self-transformation. In other words […]

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Auschwitz: 75 Years Later

Last Monday, three quarters of a century ago, Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army. French scholar David Rousset, deemed the Nazi murder camps as belonging to a distinct ontological category, which he called “L’Universe Concentrationnaire” (The “Concentrationary Universe.”) Israeli novelist Yehiel De-Nur, a survivor, also regarded the reality of Auschwitz as akin to that […]

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MLK Day: Judaism & Human Rights

Our week started with MLK Day, during which we paid homage to a great religious humanist of prophetic stature, and to all those who fought for human dignity in our country throughout the 1960’s, and beyond. In this context, it is instructive that the Torah starts with a universal story about humanity at large, about […]

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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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