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We certainly should draw on the wisdom and scholarship of others, and we should give them due credit when we learn from them and quote their words. But we should not shut off our own brains, nor feel unable to express an opinion without basing it on an earlier source. A thinking Judaism makes us better Jews…and better human beings.

In our time, like throughout history, there are those who seek to manipulate crowds in dangerous, murderous and hateful ways. There are those who play on the fears and gullibility of the masses. But there are also those who resist the crowd instinct and maintain the personality instinct. These are the stars who will form a new kind of crowd, a crowd that will bring human beings together in harmony and mutual respect.

During the Six Day War in 1967, Israel regained control of East Jerusalem. This was a historic event that returned the ancient holy sites of the Old City to Israeli sovereignty. Yom Yerushalayim has become a day of religious and national commemoration. This year it occurs on Sunday May 29.

Converts provide fresh insight, stimulate reassessment of prevailing practices, and bring welcome energy to established Jewish groups and communities. Converts are the Aggadah that stimulates the priestly Halakha to be more responsive and grow. Converts inspire all Jews to feel more, be more committed, and more observant of the law. That is more of a contribution than you could ask of anyone born Jewish.    

The Torah refers to money as “damim”—blood!  Money represents human labor, time, and investment. It is not neutral. Each dollar represents a bit of our lives, the time and energy it took us to generate that dollar.

Some words get overused, misused and abused. The words become degraded so that they no longer can be taken at face value. Hyperbole tends to degrade...not to elevate.

Yom HaShoah--Holocaust Memorial Day--is observed this Thursday, April 28. While remembering the Holocaust is highly important, we need to address the ongoing dangers of demonization and dehumanization that infect our societies.

Responsible intellectual freedom is the hallmark of a healthy religious community. Diversity of opinion and freedom of expression are vital to our wellbeing as Jews—and as human beings. Those who attempt to serve as a coercive “thought police” are doing a vast disservice to our community and to the Torah itself.

Henry Adams, a 19th century American historian and author, distinguished between a politician and a statesman. A politician is someone who listens to what people are saying, and then molds his/her agenda accordingly. A statesman is someone who thinks carefully and arrives at intelligent conclusions—and then works to persuade the public to adopt his/her policies.

It is a pity that Presidents' Day is simply treated as a day off from school or work; or a day for special sales. Wouldn't it be far more valuable for children to stay in school and learn about Washington and Lincoln? Wouldn't it be more sensible for all Americans to use the day to learn about the Presidents who helped make the United States a bastion of liberty?