Editorial & Opinion | Musings

12/04/2013 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

In Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” General Kutuzov exasperates his comrades by refusing to take action Napoleon. “Maneuver,” they urge him, “outflank, attack!” But the general, except for ordering an occasional retreat, insists on doing as close to nothing as he can. Napoleon, on the other hand, is a frenzy of activity. As a result, his supply lines are overextended, and the Russian winter devastates his army. Failing to lure the czar’s troops into a decisive confrontation, he is forced to withdraw, beaten, back to France. Tolstoy summarizes Kutuzov’s philosophy as “the less you do, the less you err.”

11/27/2013 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

Moses says to the Israelites, “When you enter the land that I am giving you” (Numbers 15:2). Yet he is speaking to a generation that will not in fact enter the land. They will die in the desert. Rashi tells us that he is giving an assurance of eventual entrance, but what assurance can there be to those who will not live to see it?

11/20/2013 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

Years ago I heard a story about the remarkable Ben Hecht, creator of the screwball comedy, writer extraordinaire, acrobat, violinist and passionate defender of Jews in World War II and Israel. When the state was founded, Hecht found himself in the office of a Jewish mogul raising money for Israel.

11/13/2013 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

Years ago I heard a story about the remarkable Ben Hecht, creator of the screwball comedy, writer extraordinaire, acrobat, violinist and passionate defender of Jews in World War II and Israel. When the state was founded, Hecht found himself in the office of a Jewish mogul raising money for Israel.

11/06/2013 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

The prophets speak ceaselessly about care for the needy and the poor. The call originates in the Torah. Deuteronomy 15:7 tell us that “if there is a poor person among you ... do not harden your heart and shut your hand.” On Yom Kippur we read from Isaiah, reminding us that the fast God wants is this: “To let the oppressed go free; to break off every yoke. To share your bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, clothe him...” (Is. 58:6,7).

10/30/2013 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

When The New Yorker was first launched in 1935 and for a long time after, money was very tight. Once when the first editor, Harold Ross, asked Dorothy Parker why she had not written a promised piece, she answered, “Well, someone else was using the pencil.”