Angel for Shabbat

Becoming a Religious Specialist:Thoughts for Matot-Masei

Rabbinic literature includes the names and teachings of many great and well-known sages. Yet, the rabbi who is mentioned most often in our liturgy is Rabbi Hananya ben Akashya—an obscure figure about whom we know almost nothing. We quote him at the end of our Musaf service, before the kaddish; and after every public Torah study session, to introduce the recitation of kaddish.

The Sons of Korah and Us: Thoughts for Parashat Korah

The public often falls prey to the blandishments and lies of the demagogues; the public can be manipulated to think that a Korah is actually better than a Moses.The great virtues of the sons of Korah were their clarity of mind, their moral courage to resist the tide of rebellion and dissension, their commitment to truth over demagoguery.

Majorities Are Often Wrong: Thoughts for Parashat Shelah Lekha

My late friend and mentor, Professor Mair Jose Benardete, once told me: “You don’t determine truth by counting bonnets!” When seeking truth, one must not be swayed by numbers, by majorities. History has proven time and again that multitudes are often wrong, that lonely dissenting individuals frequently are the great spiritual and cultural heroes of humanity.

Second Chances: Thoughts for Parashat Beha’aloteha

An inevitable feature of human life is making mistakes. No one is always right; no one always makes the correct decisions. The sign of greatness is to recognize our mistakes and misjudgments and seek a second chance. Even if one’s original error had been made with the best of intentions, one needs the strength to say: I was wrong; I need a second chance.

The "Nones" Don't Have it: Do We? Thoughts for Parashat Emor

Professor Daniel C. Dennett of Tufts University published an article, “Why the Future of Religion is Bleak.” He argues that religious institutions have survived historically by controlling what their adherents know, but today that is next to impossible. In the United States, one out of six Americans identifies as a “None,” a person without a religious affiliation. And the number of Nones is on the increase.

Human Dignity, not Bureaucratic Indignity:Thoughts on Parashat Bemidbar

Halakha works best when it is most human and humane. It is most meaningful when the rabbis and the laymen know each other and understand each other. In an increasingly depersonalized world, the religious community needs to keep focused on the dignity of the individual. We need to foster human dignity, not bureaucratic indignity.