The Loneliest Generation

Addressing a crowd of about 200 young professionals last week, I shared with them what I see as the unique privileges and challenges of their generation. On the one hand, I argued, they are the most worldly, successful, and best educated generation in the history of their respective families. And at the same time, I […]

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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 one sublime day, we individually […]

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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 exile. Gedaliah was murdered by […]

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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 of Hagar and Ishmael (which […]

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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 way, the conventional way, is […]

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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 barbarism of the Middle-East, a […]

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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 the cosmos. Here are three […]

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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 challenges which await not only […]

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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). Rashi’s commentary thus cautions us […]

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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 Ten Commandments. At another point […]

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