Angel for Shabbat

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.

Sinai and Sinah: Thoughts for Parashat Behar-Behukotai

Religion has two faces. One face is that of saintliness, idealism, holiness and selflessness. But the other face is one of hatred, cruelty, selfishness and egotism. A Talmudic passage (Shabbat 89a-b) links the word Sinai with the word Sinah—hatred. Those who emulate the ideals of Sinai are those who reflect the beautiful face of religion. Those who breach those ideals fall into the trap of Sinah, becoming hateful and jealous.

Universally Particularistic: Thoughts for Matot-Masei

To focus exclusively on the universal aspects of Judaism, though central to Judaism’s mission, is to do a disservice not only to the Jewish tradition, but all of humanity. Without a real foundation in its particular mission in the world, Judaism will struggle to contribute universally. Similarly, to focus exclusively on the particularistic aspects of Judaism corrupts its very purpose within humanity.