Rabbi David Wolpe

Armed For Chanukah

11/17/2015 - 19:00

As Israel prepares to cross the sea, Moses cries out to God, who responds, in Exodus 14:15, “Why cry out to Me? Tell the Israelites to go forward.” Rashi reverses the meaning of the verse, suggesting God is saying, “Why cry out? It’s on me — tell the Israelites to go forward.” Rashi lived in an age (1040-1105) when Jews had little power and reliance on God was the only conceivable strategy. He understood the Passover story as one of total dependence, not human initiative.

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Sages Are Whitmanesque

We all contain multitudes, according to the majority opinion.

07/21/2015 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

We are taught in the Torah that one is supposed to leave a corner of one’s field unharvested for the poor (peah). The Rabbis in the Mishna ask the following question: What if a man who has fields at home is traveling and hungry; may he take from the peah (yes), and more interestingly, when he gets home, should he contribute to compensate for what he has taken?

Walt Whitman. Wikimedia Commons

Immigrant Experience

07/14/2015 - 20:00

Regarding Rabbi David Wolpe’s Musing, “Another Land To Cherish” (July 3), I grew up in the anti-Vietnam protest era, which I still defend. Yet after my 
father passed away a few years ago, I was taken aback by a document sent by
 the U.S. government, praising him for his service in the navy during the Korean 

Louis Armstrong: Horn Of Plenty

07/14/2015 - 20:00

Can a single gesture change a life? On New Year’s Eve 1913, a shot rang out. A boy was playing with a pistol, and he was taken by police and put into a house of correction, called The Colored Waifs Home for Boys.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Rabbi David Wolpe's 'Musings'

'Turkey under the table': Everyone needs someone willing to enter her world.

04/28/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav once told of a prince who suffered from delusions and thought he was a turkey. A wise man cured him by emulating his behavior: Crawling under the table, pecking at his food and behaving just like a turkey. Gradually, he began to ask the prince — “Can’t a turkey wear a shirt?” And, “Can’t a turkey eat with utensils?” In that way the wise man gradually brought the prince back to acknowledging his humanity.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Choosing And Being Chosen

Perhaps no concept in Judaism has been more misunderstood than chosenness, Rabbi David Wolpe writes.

02/03/2015 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Perhaps no concept in Judaism has been more misused and misunderstood than chosenness. It is not a doctrine of racial superiority, though some have interpreted it as such. The first statement in the Torah about human beings is that all are created in the image of God and all have a common ancestry. The choice is one of service, not of being served. And it does not preclude the notion that other nations too are chosen for other tasks.

Rabbi David Wolpe

All For One

10/07/2014 - 20:00

In response to Rabbi David Wolpe’s Musing (“Yom Kippur’s Web,” Oct. 3): We say the Veedoi (Confessional prayer), as well as other important prayers like Aleinu, for example, in plural, because, pure and simple, all of Israel are responsible for one another.

King David, ‘A Very Problematic Character’

09/23/2014 - 20:00

Noting that a character’s first recorded words in the Bible reveal a great deal about his personality, Rabbi David Wolpe pointed out at a Jewish Week Forum here last week that as a youngster, the future King David’s first words in the Book of Samuel are, “What will be given to the man who slays Goliath?”

Rabbi David Wolpe described the Bible's King David as a "very problematic character." Michael Datikash/JW

King David As ‘Collage’

David Wolpe tackles the grace, and the contradictions, of the biblical monarch.

09/08/2014 - 20:00
Culture Editor

The young David is captured in Michelangelo’s colossal marble masterpiece, in the days before his battle with Goliath. The sculptor expresses his beauty and hints of the boy’s majestic future. That’s the David a reader pictures in the opening pages of Rabbi David Wolpe’s new biography, “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press), when the High Priest Samuel visits the house of Jesse the Bethlehemite in search of a new king to replace Saul. Before meeting David, Samuel encounters his older brothers.  David is then summoned back from the fields, where he is tending the sheep, and his life is about to change.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Knowledge Base

07/15/2014 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Professor Louis Ginzberg was the greatest scholar of rabbinic Midrash in his day, with a vast range of learning in many languages. My father told me that once, at a reception at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where Ginzberg taught, a woman approached him and in the course of discussion, began arguing with him about a point in Midrash. After a long, fruitless argument, Ginzberg said, “Why don’t we check the ‘Jewish Encyclopedia’ — would you accept that as an authority?” The woman agreed.

Rabbi David Wolpe
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