Editorial & Opinion | Musings

01/02/2008 | | Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles. | Musings

A rabbi is speaking with a doctor, who says, “You know, Rabbi, I often treat patients without asking them to pay.” The rabbi responds, “I do that too.” The doctor, perplexed, persists: “You know, I often write prescriptions and cover the cost myself.” The rabbi muses, “Yes, I do that too.” The doctor, frustrated, says, “I even do surgery and forgo my normal fee!” The rabbi nods, and says, “Yes, I do that too.”

12/26/2007 | | Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles. | Musings

The Rabbis tell a stirring tale of Adam’s first night on earth. Having known only one day, he had never experienced a sunset. When the world went dark, Adam feared it was the end of everything. His hand alighted on two stones, one named afelah, darkness, and the other maveth, death. He rubbed the stones together and created a spark that illuminated the darkness until, miraculously, the morning came and the sun rose.

12/19/2007 | | Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles. | Musings

Dreams dominate Genesis, the first book of the Bible. At the outset of the human journey we dreamed our way to the world.

Joseph’s dreams in youth brought him to the Egyptian dungeon, by evoking the jealousy of his brothers. His skill interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams liberated him. As Rabbi Isaac Bernstein teaches us, Joseph was brought low by listening only to his own dreams, and rose high when he began to listen to the dreams of others. As with Jacob his father, fleeting visions of the night enchant the dawn and change the world.

12/12/2007 | | Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles. | Musings

Why do Jews place stones on a grave?

One beautiful explanation takes its cue from the inscription on many gravestones: the five-letter Hebrew abbreviation taf, nun, tsadi, bet, hey, which stands for “Teheye Nishmato Tsrurah B’tsror HaChayyim.” This is usually translated as “May his soul be bound up in the bounds of eternal life.”

12/04/2007 | | Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles. | Musings

Dishonesty enables us to change our behavior, but not to change ourselves.  True change entails admitting to who we are and who we have been. As they wrestle, the angel asks Jacob his name. It seems a strange question — would an angel struggle all night with a human being and not know who he was?

But Jacob had previously deceived his father, pretending to be Esau. He must first become who he is, Jacob, before he can become someone new. The angel gives Jacob the chance to overcome his deceptions. Admitting he is Jacob, he is ready to be Israel.

11/28/2007 | | Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles. | Musings

Before being written down, the rabbinic tradition of Judaism, the “oral law,” was preserved by professional memorizers. These “reciters” could repeat page after and page of text without a second thought. Indeed, second thoughts were dangerous; reciters should not be inventive, lest they alter the tradition. Reliable memories are characterized by fidelity, not creativity.