Angel for Shabbat

The Spirit of Amalek Lives! Thoughts for Shabbat Zakhor

This week's maftir portion includes verses commanding us to obliterate the memory of Amalek, the classic arch-enemy of the people of Israel. Yet, the Torah also lists other peoples who oppressed the Israelites. The Egyptians enslaved us for centuries; the Edomites and Moabites harmed us--yet only Amalek is singled out for our eternal enmity.

Hebraism and Hellenism

Our home base as Jews is Torah and mitzvoth. But for us to flourish fully in our humanity, we invite the beauty of Yefet into our home. We not only foster a “strictness of conscience,” but also a “spontaneity of consciousness.” Our goal is “to see things in their essence and beauty” while staying faithful to our spiritual natures.

Time to Stand Tall--Thoughts for Parashat Vayelekh

Quiet piety and self-effacing righteousness are great virtues. Yet, when we need to make a public stand on behalf of our people--then we should set aside our humility and step forward with self-confidence. When the honor and well-being of our people are at stake, we dare not shy away from responsibility. When evil persists in the world, we may not let humility get in the way of forceful resistance to evil.

The War Within: Thoughts for Parashat Ki Tetsei

The Torah portion opens with a discussion about going to war. Many of our rabbinic commentators have expanded the meaning of the text to refer not to wars against external enemies, but to wars against our own evil inclinations. These internal wars are battles for self-definition. Either we can win and live meaningfully and happily; or we can lose by succumbing to pressures that lead us to abandon our own values and ideals.

Physical and Spiritual Survival: Thoughts for Parashat Ki Tavo

Some Jews are “Jewish” only (or mainly) in response to anti-Semitism or anti-Israel attacks. They are “camp” Jews. Some Jews are “Jewish” only (or mainly) in their fulfillment of the rituals of our religious tradition. They are “congregation” Jews. In fact, though, we each need to play our role in both domains.