Angel for Shabbat

A Test of Leadership: Thoughts on Parashat Shelah Lekha, June 5, 2010

When ten of the spies reported that the Promised Land was inhabited by undefeatable giants and fortified cities, the people of Israel immediately lost heart. Panic swept the community. They cried all night. They complained that they would rather have died in Egypt. They even thought of appointing a new leader to take them back to servitude in Egypt. To them, that seemed preferable to entering Canaan only to be murdered by the powerful Canaanite nations.

Divine Justice, Human Responsibility: Thoughts for Parashat Korah, June 12, 2010

The Talmud posits an important principle: the Heavenly court deals with us by the exact same standards that we use to deal with others (Sotah 8b). If we are kind and compassionate, we can expect to be judged by God with kindness and compassion. If we are cruel and unfairly critical of others, we can expect the Heavenly court to deal with us with the same qualities we have shown to others.

Sanctifying God's Name, Sanctifying our own Lives:Thoughts on Parashat Devarim, July 17. 2010

We recently returned from a wonderful trip to Israel. As we sat in the waiting area of the BenGurion airport terminal before the flight, we noticed a young family nearby--a husband and wife and their little children aged 12 and under. As could be expected, the children were restless and wanted to run around and play.

The mother, in a soft voice, spoke to the children: It's fine to play, but please remember: everything you do should be a "kiddush Hashem" (a sanctification of God's name). The children understood their mother's message, and they played nicely and quietly.

Spiritual Yearning:Thoughts on Parashat Eikev, July 31, 2010

I recently attended Shabbat morning services at a synagogue that was having a "Carlebach Shabbat". A group of "Carlebachians" led the services, and sang many of the prayers to music composed by the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.

I happened to be sitting next to one of the organizers of this Shabbat event, and I asked him: what does a "Carlebach Shabbat" service provide, that seems to be lacking in the "regular" synagogue service? He pondered for a few moments, and then answered in one word: "Yearning".

I have been pondering this response ever since.

University Network Update

Shalom. I hope you've been having a good summer, and I wish you all the best. Here are a few items of importance for members of the University Network of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.

1. Please make sure that we have your correct mailing list on file. You may go to our website,, and check your My Account page. We plan to mail out the new issue of Conversations (Orthodoxy and Ethics) in early September, and it's important that we have your correct mailing address.