Angel for Shabbat

Healthy and Unhealthy Controversy: Thoughts for Parashat Korah

The Pirkei Avot describes the controversy of Korah and his cohorts to have been “not for the sake of Heaven.” Their goal was to overthrow the leadership of Moses and Aaron, in the hope of seizing political power for themselves. They did not offer a positive agenda; rather, they preyed on the fears and frustrations of the public. These kinds of controversies are a zero sum game. One side wins, one side loses.

The Dangers of "Echo Reasoning": Thoughts for Parashat Pinehas

It is fashionable in some religious circles to idolize cult leaders and to refrain from (and even deeply resent) any criticism aimed at these great ones. It is fashionable in some circles to foster “echo reasoning”, where it is only licit to speak with others who share the same views, where it is forbidden to hear opposing ideas and critiques. Such circles represent a genuine danger to healthy religious life.

Intellectual Humility: Thoughts for Parashat Beha’aloteha

When teaching the words of our Sages, we need to have the literary tact to know how they used language. If we teach hyperbolic statements as being literally true, then we not only misconstrue the teachings of our Sages, but we unwittingly mislead our students into believing problematic things. As they grow older and wiser, they may say to themselves: if our Rebbis were mistaken on this, perhaps they were mistaken on many other matters.

War and Peace

War is ugly. War entails fighting and killing enemies. It entails a vast commitment of resources to mobilize and arm one’s forces and to strengthen one’s defenses. It entails casualties and loss of life. Peace is so much nicer. No nation wants peace more than Israel. And no nation is under more constant threats than Israel.