In reading the Haggadah, we envision the vast crowd of Israelites who experienced the Exodus first hand. We identify with them and feel part of their peoplehood. At the same time, though, we envision the unique talents and aspirations of each member of the family and community. The goal is to raise all of us to a high level of understanding, solidarity and love.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Many of our children and grandchildren spend a year or more studying in yeshivot in Israel. This is a wonderful phenomenon...as a rule. But it is becoming more common for students to be drawn into studying for shana bet and beyond. There's a tendency to glorify lifelong Torah study even if that means forgoing college or developing skills necessary for long term employment.
As Rosh Hashana approaches, synagogues are eager to attract worshippers and new members. Jewish publications have included ads by area synagogues that promise “inspiring” services and sermons, talented cantors, special programs for children etc. Hotels have placed ads attempting to lure customers to spend the holy days in their “luxurious and chic” facilities.