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Editorial & Opinion | Musings

07/27/2016 - 09:34 | | Musings

Judaism is often called a tradition of deed, not of creed. It is certainly true that Judaism emphasizes one’s actions. The Torah assumes that the heart will always be divided, and no one can erase the negative thoughts or bad intentions that accompany us throughout our lives. We show our nobility not by being consistently pure in thought, but by choosing to act in accord with our higher ideals.

07/20/2016 - 00:36 | | Musings

Jacob fools his father and steals his brother’s birthright. Esau swears to kill him. Decades pass. Jacob hears that Esau is coming with 400 men. Yet when they meet, instead of vengeance, they fall on each other’s necks and weep. Why?

07/13/2016 - 08:59 | | Musings

At the Sami Rohr book prize ceremony in Jerusalem, the winners summarized what they had learned in writing their works. Yehuda Mirsky, author of a beautiful biography of Rav Kook, said movingly: “I was just astonished that such a person could exist. Someone at once so deep and so good.”

07/05/2016 - 21:33 | | Musings

In the Talmud we are told that Rav Eliezer ben Hyrcanos never taught anything that he had not heard from his teacher. Then, in Avoth D’Rabbi Nathan, we are told that “Rav Eliezer taught things that no ear had ever heard.” The two texts seem to contradict each other; so which is true? Did Rav Eliezer only repeat what he heard or did he innovate new teachings?

06/29/2016 - 08:38 | | Musings

The most frequently cited sins in Jewish tradition are sins of speech. Some are direct, such as gossiping or slander. Others are indirect, such as embarrassing someone in public, which is usually a consequence of saying something callous or unkind.

06/21/2016 - 22:27 | | Musings

The great chess master Savielly Tartakower used to say that the winner of a game was the one who had made the next to last mistake. Note he did not say the one who makes the most brilliant moves. Tartakower knew that brilliancy depends on error.