Moral education must be systemic and systematic. Educators must set the goals and the stage at the very outset, and keep coming back to them and reinforcing them. Children often do not listen to what we say because our words are drowned out by what we do.
Beruriah’s revolutionary insight was to notice the importance of detaching sinner from sin. Only when we resist the urge, ultimately rooted in our competitive desire to feel superior, to spend our energy blaming bad actors and instead recognize the systemic factors that produce bad behavior will we be able to abolish sin from the earth.
This study contrasts the legal rhetoric regarding the abortion issue. What does the plain sense of the canonical library actually prescribe? And what is the view of that version of Orthodox Judaism that bases itself on the intuitive consensus of an elite group of rabbis through a kind of "continuous revelation"?
As is true with all virtues, cultivating courage takes practice. We must come out of our comfort zone to grow. We must learn the art of when to listen and when to speak, when to act and when to hold back, when to paddle to ride a wave, and when to sit back to enjoy the calm waters. Courage allows us to move forward perpetually, and with the knowledge that meaning is found through navigating the tribulations of living a full, active life.
Rabbi Halevy’s writings reflect a conflict. On the one hand, he firmly believed that we were at the beginning of the period of redemption. On the other hand, he acknowledged that no one knew for certain how the redemption process would unfold. Rabbi Halevy evaluated sources about messianic calculations, natural vs. supernatural redemption, repentance during the period of redemption, and other matters relating to Divine Providence.
Whistle-blowing in our daily professional life is a real issue. Examples of purposeful misrepresentation, hypocrisy, and malfeasance can be found. These are problems for individual conscience to solve when confronting injustice and evil. Can we rely on our own conscience to choose correctly and to regulate the personal impulses that might drive ourselves or others to commit unfair, unjust, and even, criminal actions?
One of the overarching goals of the Torah is to refine people’s moral character. Many laws and narratives overtly focus on morality, and many others inveigh against the immorality and amorality of paganism. The biblical prophets place consistency between observance of God’s ritual and moral laws at the very heart of their message.
As we are in the season of Yom Hashoa, I think of Rembrandt’s superb Large Self-Portrait, which is exhibited at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. It cast a spell on me when I first saw it. But on Yom Hashoa it invites thoughts that penetrate deeper and deeper into my very being. When trying to do the impossible—imagining what happened to members of my family and to millions of other Jews who perished in the Holocaust—Rembrandt’s self portrait awakens me from my slumber.
Sunday, February 10 | 10:00am - 12:30pm
at Lincoln Square Synagogue
The challenge of how to respond to the exposure of our children to morally questionable behavior on the part of some religious and political leaders presents an opportunity to clarify our thinking about our responsibility to foster the moral education of our children through direct discussion as well as awareness of some of the more subtle ways that children internalize our values.