What is Your Name? Thoughts on Parashat Shemot

When I was a student at Yeshiva College many years ago, I saw a passage scribbled onto a subway wall at the IRT 181st Street station. That passage had a big impact on me then, and continues to be important to me so many years later. The passage was a quotation from Alan Watts: "For when man no longer confuses himself with the definition of himself that others have given him, he is at once universal and unique."

Biblical Heroes, Imperfections, Truth: Thoughts on Parashat Lekh Lekha

Our great biblical heroes, as well as our great spiritual heroes of all generations, were real human beings, not plaster saints.  They had real feelings, real conflicts. Many times they performed admirably; on some occasions they fell short.  To suggest that anyone is “perfect”—totally devoid of sin and error—is to misrepresent that person and to misrepresent truth.

Fear or Freedom: Thoughts for Parashat Devarim

In his book, “The Case for Democracy,” Natan Sharansky divides the world into two kinds of societies: fear societies, and free societies. Fear societies are tyrannies which rule by terrorizing their subjects, by restricting freedom of speech and movement, by instilling fear so that people will not voice opposition to the rulers. Fear societies are controlled by tyrants who are not hesitant to brutalize their people in order to quash dissent.