Articles

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.

Spiritual Development

There are so many really nice, good, religiously observant people, who keep kosher and Shabbat and all the mitzvoth, whose kids go to yeshiva, who learn Torah and dress modestly. All this is crucial—it's who we are and what we need to do and it's keeping Judaism alive. Yet, sometimes, it seems like people lose the center and purpose of it all; a truly intimate, authentic, personal relationship with themselves and Hashem.

Jewish Law and the Delicate Balance Between Meaning and Authority

The quest to understand the rationale that underlies the mitzvoth assumes that we should strive to articulate the spiritual messages of the halakha. By affirming our commitment to those laws whose reasons we may find personally or ethically challenging, we ensure that the Torah is, in fact, the source of our value system, and not simply an ancient text that validates the contemporary zeitgeist.