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Sunday, February 10 | 10:00am - 12:30pm

at Lincoln Square Synagogue

A Talmudic passage (Sotah 11a) offers an imaginary scenario relating to Pharaoh's decision to enslave the Israelites and murder their male babies. Bilam advised in favor of these evil decrees and ultimately died a violent death. Job remained neutral, and was later punished with horrible sufferings. Yitro opposed Pharaoh’s decrees, had to flee, and was ultimately rewarded.

The challenge of how to respond to the exposure of our children to morally questionable behavior on the part of some religious and political leaders presents an opportunity to clarify our thinking about our responsibility to foster the moral education of our children through direct discussion as well as awareness of some of the more subtle ways that children internalize our values.

I do not believe that Orthodox Jews are more dishonest than other people, and I like to think that Orthodox Jews are more honest. But why are we not surprised when we read or hear about Orthodox Jews accused of cheating or bribing? Why do we laugh at the assumption that Orthodox Jewish sponsorship guarantees the trustworthiness and honesty of a business venture?

Rabbi Halevi was fairly conservative within classical sources, and deferential to his predecessors. At the same time, he emphasized the inherent flexibility in halakhah, since there are many options within the boundaries of halakhic discourse. If one shuts down legitimate options, one harms the Jewish people and observance.

Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch is a classic example of the knowledge-lishmah school of thought. Not only does he extol the spiritual value of secular studies, he explicitly derides those who see knowledge as a tool to advance one's career.