Musings

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

12/04/2013
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In Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” General Kutuzov exasperates his comrades by refusing to take action Napoleon. “Maneuver,” they urge him, “outflank, attack!” But the general, except for ordering an occasional retreat, insists on doing as close to nothing as he can. Napoleon, on the other hand, is a frenzy of activity. As a result, his supply lines are overextended, and the Russian winter devastates his army. Failing to lure the czar’s troops into a decisive confrontation, he is forced to withdraw, beaten, back to France. Tolstoy summarizes Kutuzov’s philosophy as “the less you do, the less you err.”

Rabbi David Wolpe

More Than Just ‘You’

11/27/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Moses says to the Israelites, “When you enter the land that I am giving you” (Numbers 15:2). Yet he is speaking to a generation that will not in fact enter the land. They will die in the desert. Rashi tells us that he is giving an assurance of eventual entrance, but what assurance can there be to those who will not live to see it?

Rabbi David Wolpe

Why Hide From Jewish Identity?

11/20/2013
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Years ago I heard a story about the remarkable Ben Hecht, creator of the screwball comedy, writer extraordinaire, acrobat, violinist and passionate defender of Jews in World War II and Israel. When the state was founded, Hecht found himself in the office of a Jewish mogul raising money for Israel.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Why Hide From Jewish Identity?

11/13/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Years ago I heard a story about the remarkable Ben Hecht, creator of the screwball comedy, writer extraordinaire, acrobat, violinist and passionate defender of Jews in World War II and Israel. When the state was founded, Hecht found himself in the office of a Jewish mogul raising money for Israel.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Remember The Poor

11/06/2013
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The prophets speak ceaselessly about care for the needy and the poor. The call originates in the Torah. Deuteronomy 15:7 tell us that “if there is a poor person among you ... do not harden your heart and shut your hand.” On Yom Kippur we read from Isaiah, reminding us that the fast God wants is this: “To let the oppressed go free; to break off every yoke. To share your bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, clothe him...” (Is. 58:6,7).

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Cost Of A Jewish Education

10/30/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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When The New Yorker was first launched in 1935 and for a long time after, money was very tight. Once when the first editor, Harold Ross, asked Dorothy Parker why she had not written a promised piece, she answered, “Well, someone else was using the pencil.”

Rabbi David Wolpe

This Too Shall Pass

10/23/2013
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Childhood, wrote George Eliot, is soothed by no memories of outlived sorrow.

One of the pains of youth is that we have not yet aged; we cannot imagine how much we will change, how our memories will reconfigure themselves, that this moment is not forever. As we grow, the accumulation of sorrows carries comfort: we have been sad, or hurt, or disappointed before and discovered that change is the one constant of life. As Solomon’s ring had it, this too shall pass.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Don’t Sweat The Small Things

10/15/2013
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After more than 15 years as a pulpit rabbi, perhaps the wisest comment I have seen about synagogue life comes from a monastery. In her lovely memoir, “The Cloister Walk,” about her time in a Benedictine monastery in Minnesota, Kathleen Norris writes:

Something Out Of Nothing

10/09/2013
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The art of living is one of self-creation. The Rabbis of the Talmud teach that when God says in Genesis, “Let us make man,” God is speaking with the royal “we.” But a later chasidic teaching argues that God is speaking to human beings — together we will make you. I will endow you with certain gifts and you must spend your life soul-shaping.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Musings

Feel Deeply, Act Kindly

10/02/2013
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Everyone decries extremism but it is hard to turn out crowds for moderation. The satiric Czech novelist Jaroslav Hasek once started a political movement called “The Party of Moderate Progress Within the Bounds of the Law.” If you’ve never heard of it, that’s because it never quite picked up steam.

Rabbi David Wolpe
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