Musings

Pharaoh’s Paradox

04/17/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Pharaoh proclaims the Israelites a threat, and yet fears their leaving: “Come let us deal cleverly with them, lest they increase, and when war strikes they will join with our enemies, and leave [Exodus 1:10].” This paradox is familiar from Jewish history.  Jews were expelled throughout history, but equally often, tyrants who felt threatened by Jews nonetheless refused to let them immigrate to more benign lands.

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Light Of Freedom

04/09/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

The first morning blessing thanks God for the ability to distinguish between day and night. The most immediate reference is to the dawn; the worshiper wakes and is grateful for the rising sun. But as Passover reminds us, there is a deeper meaning.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Letting Go

04/02/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

When Adam and Eve are fashioned in the Garden of Eden, the Torah makes an important editorial comment: “Therefore a man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife.” My best guess is that comment was to pacify parents.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Two Gifts

03/26/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

The great Greek playwright Aeschylus tells us that Prometheus gave the world two gifts: fire and ignorance of our own fate. In other words, an uncertain future, and the power to shape it; both light and darkness.

Rabbi David Wolpe

You Are What You Wear

03/20/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

One of the greatest pleasures of Shabbat is disapproving of what other people wear. So please, permit me the pleasure.

The Talmud comments that honoring the Sabbath mandates that one’s dress not be the same as on weekdays. In the Torah, Rebecca helped Jacob impersonate his brother not only by putting hair on Jacob’s arms, but by dressing him in Esau’s clothes. Rabbi Naphtali of Rushpitz’s explanation is that Rebecca understood that dressing like Esau would allow Jacob to feel more like Esau, because what we wear affects who we are.

Rabbi David Wolpe

‘I Don’t Know’

03/12/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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The human mind inclines toward certainty. Having been involved in my share of arguments, beginning with the childhood dinner table (an excellent place to learn both the skills of debate and the fine art of going only slightly too far), I know that arguing is mostly a process of persuading oneself that one was right in the first place. Who has not heard scientists extol the certainties of scientific knowledge, religious people astonishingly secure in their understanding of God, and all of us pronounce others “simply wrong” with no more prompting or expertise than the skill of thumping a fist and nodding a head?

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Wisdom Of Paradox

03/05/2014
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The ancient historian Tacitus recounts that when Jerusalem was conquered and the Roman general Pompey walked into the Holy of Holies in the Temple, he found it empty. Surely this perplexed the future emperor. Uniquely among ancient civilizations, there was no image or picture of God in the Temple. Pompey probably did not know it, but he was witnessing Judaism’s greatest counterintuitive gift to the world.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Measure For Measure

02/28/2014
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"Jerusalem was destroyed," teaches the Talmud, “because judgments were rendered strictly upon the law of the Torah.” In other words, the quality of mercy was missing from the courts of the day. Untempered by humility and humanity, the law is destructive.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Five Books To Inspire

02/18/2014
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I’m often asked to recommend books. Here are five unique and powerful modern works that you may have missed or forgotten. These works will enrich, elevate and educate any Jew, indeed any human being.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Give It Away

02/12/2014
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Rabbi Tarfon was very rich. One day, Rabbi Akiva met him and said, “My master, shall I purchase for you a town or two?” “Yes,” said Rabbi Tarfon, and immediately gave Rabbi Akiva 4,000 gold dinars. Akiva distributed the money to poor scholars.

Rabbi David Wolpe
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