Musings

Stranger, Sibling, Self

07/20/2016 - 00:36

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?

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Way Of The Tzaddik

07/13/2016 - 08:59

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.”

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Hear And Now

07/05/2016 - 21:33

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?

Rabbi David Wolpe

Hold Your Tongue

06/29/2016 - 08:38

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.

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Loser Now Will Be Later To Win

06/21/2016 - 22:27

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. 

Rabbi David Wolpe

Into The Wild

06/15/2016 - 08:16

The three major chagim, holidays, of the Jewish year — Pesach, Sukkot and Shavuot — all commemorate deeds that took place in the wilderness. They have agricultural significance as well, tying them to the land, but their origin reminds us that we were shaped by the desert.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Tending Our Garden, Together

06/08/2016 - 08:17

When I was a child we lived next door to a very evil woman. At least, that’s what my brothers and I believed. We knew she was evil because when a ball we were playing with sailed over the fence into her yard, she always refused to return it. She was apparently upset that balls from the neighbors’ kids kept landing, splat, right in the middle of her carefully cultivated garden.

David Wolpe

Fake It Till You Make It

06/01/2016 - 08:33

The mind does not obey itself. My arm will rise if I “tell” it to, but I cannot want what I think I should want. Shelves of self-help books promise to make us desire less junk food, exercise more, release ourselves from obsessive love for the wrong person, renew our affection for the “right” person. But still, we cannot seem to want what we want to want.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Divine Purpose

05/25/2016 - 08:21

In the Jewish tradition a desecration of God’s name is called a “chilul Hashem.” R. Chaim of Volozhin teaches that “chilul” comes from the word “hallal,” meaning empty or void. The greatest desecration of God’s name is to believe the world is meaningless, without purpose.

David Wolpe

The Low-Tech Child

05/18/2016 - 09:19

One of childhood’s great pleasures is to populate the world with imagination. It does not require elaborate equipment to engage a child. As the Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi said, “Children find everything in nothing; men find nothing in everything.”

David Wolpe
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