Jewish priests (Kohannim) are prohibited from attending funerals or encountering the dead (unless it is a close relative). How can the leaders of society neglect one of the most important aspects of community service? Here we learn a value of humility, empowerment, life, and transparency.
For those of us far removed from the torture cell and battlefield, it is all too easy to be misinformed about intelligence gathering and its efficacy and morality. But to maintain our national integrity, we must all gain clarity on this crucial moral and political issue. Torture is ineffective, illegal and immoral, and it makes us less safe. It must be stopped at all levels.
It is beautiful how much emphasis there is on Shabbat and holiday celebration in American Orthodoxy. However, the celebration of the values of health and exercise are sorely lacking in the community. Parents often do not stress health and exercise for their children, and day schools fall short on creating rigorous health programs. Happily, religious celebration need not compromise our commitment to health.
We have been very aware of the addictive nature of nicotine and the serious health risks of lung cancer (which kills more Americans than any other cancer), cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (eventually leading to emphysema). About 20 percent of Americans still smoke, around 450,000 Americans die prematurely every year from smoking, and researchers have shown that a smoker loses an average of 14 years of life.
"And a man found him, when he was wandering in the field, and the man asked him, 'What are you seeking?' And he said, 'I am seeking my brothers'" (Genesis 37:15). This story about Joseph strikes me so deeply. As a child who moved to different cities every few years, I constantly felt like I was seeking “my brothers.” To some degree, we are all wandering in search of our “brothers.” Friendship is a challenging virtue to cultivate, even more challenging in our transient times.