The Educational Imperative

The current religious educational system encourages people to accept the authority of the major Torah scholars of the generation and to obey them unquestioningly, thereby creating a culture of dependency and submission. We must return to and deepen appreciation of independent thought, personal freedom and individual empowerment. Talmudic tradition and adjudication teach us that no Rabbi, no matter how great, is sacred nor should he be revered as a Lord over us.

Truth, "Narratives," Propaganda, Falsehood

It seems to have become "politically correct" to speak of narratives, rather than to focus on historical truth. This tendency is blatantly evident in some discussions about Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. We are told that each group has its own narrative, implying that each group clings to its own version of truth and should be respected for its views. This approach--seemingly objective and non-judgmental--actually leads to the distortion of facts and undermining of historic truth. 

Coming Home: A Sephardic Way Forward

I hope in this essay I have been able to transmit a vision about the transformative role of community, a community in time, where we find meaning through entering into relationship grounded in history as a way to come home. May we remember before Whom we stand, before the Holy One, before each other in generations past, present and future, and before the unique vision of a community in time that is Sephardic Judaism.

Many Nations Under God: Judaism and Other Religions

Does Judaism have a theology of other religions? Emphatically, yes. Judaism has a wide range of texts that offer thoughts on other religions. In my book, Many Nations under God: Judaism and other Religions, I present the broad range of traditional sources bearing on this question of the theological relationship between Judaism and other religions. How does one theologically account for the differences between religions? How do we balance our multifaith world with the Jewish texts? These questions are important for both self-definition and social action.


What is the Mitzvah?

Judaism is much about do-ing. But it is about much more than do-ing. It is do-ing plus. It is do-ing with care, it is do-ing with kindness, it is do-ing in a transcending manner; in a word - do-ing with heart and soul.



Thoughts on Anti-Semitism

The disease of anti-Semitism has persisted through the generations and continues today, with all its false accusations, paranoia and dangerous consequences. How are we to cope with this deep-seated irrationalism? How are we to explain this to our children and grandchildren?

When Teaching Right Behavior Is Not Enough: A Mussar-Approach to Creating Mensches

It is the persistence of this gap between ideals and actual behavior that has fueled religio-moral research into human behavior for millennia. How can it be that an otherwise observant person and pillar of his/her Orthodox community has been embezzling funds, breaking federal lobbying laws, or committing sexual improprieties, to name a few of the real-life examples of the gap we’ve seen over the past several decades?

Seeing What Seems Not To Be There: Thoughts for Pessah

I recently read of a phenomenon known as “inattention blindness.” When people are focused on a particular thing, they tend not to see anything that interferes with their concentration. For example, psychologists asked a group of people to watch a film of a basketball game and to count how many times team members passed the ball to each other. While the people were engaged in viewing the basketball game and concentrating on their assignment, the tape showed a person walking right through the center of the picture in a way that would obviously be noticed.