Musings

The Meaning Of Kaddish

08/06/2013
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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The Kaddish may be the best-known Jewish prayer and yet its purpose is mysterious. Though it is the mourning prayer, it makes no mention of death. Rather what it proclaims is the greatness and sanctity of God and God’s name.

Rabbi David Wolpe

How We Treat One Another

07/30/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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My teacher Simon Greenberg once explained the great innovation of the Ten Commandments. He explained that the first four are the justification for the last six. In other words, he told us, the Ten Commandments introduced the world to the idea that God cares most how we treat one another.

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Flaws That Beguile

07/24/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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In his classic history of art, Ernest Gombrich offers a powerful insight into life while discussing Botticelli’s famous “Birth of Venus.” Botticelli deliberately misproportioned Venus, and Gombrich notes that the figure emerging from the half shell is more beautiful for her flaws: “the unnatural length of her neck, the steepfall of her shoulders...” The painter’s Venus is less correctly drawn than his predecessors, but his alterations “enhance the impression of an infinitely tender and delicate being.”

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Road To Ruins

07/17/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Ruins are a catalyst to imagination. When we see the remains of an old building or civilization we can imagine what once stood in that place. Should you travel this summer, notice the inspiration of lost splendor. Gaps and flaws and remnants are the spur to vision.

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Company You Keep

07/10/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Recent studies on college roommates suggest that our cognitive styles — whether we face adversity with optimism or despair — are not fixed. After only three months roommates influence each other: the resilient ones change the approach of the pessimists, and vice versa. Once more the ancient wisdom is reaffirmed: we are not only known, but shaped, by the company we keep.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Feeling Another’s Pain

07/03/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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In high school we read “Black Like Me,” an account of how John Howard Griffin, a reporter, had his skin artificially darkened so he might better understand the predicament of blacks in the South in the late 1950s. Can we understand another if we have not been in his position? Does a member of a ruling caste understand the humiliations of the oppressed, or does someone who has lived in difficulties understand the seductions and possibilities of wealth or power?

David Wolpe

The Success Of Failure

06/26/2013
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There is no achievement without obstacles and no triumph without reversals. Failure, said Churchill, is not fatal. He would know: Although we reckon Churchill an astounding success, he was voted out of office and despondent in the years before becoming prime minister of England. Reflecting on the fact that he lost his place in Parliament while he was in the hospital, he wrote: “In the twinkling of an eye, I found myself without an office, without a seat, without a party, and without an appendix.”

Rabbi David Wolpe

Sins Of Strength

06/19/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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In his jealous madness, King Saul has many Priests killed and is stripped of the kingship. King David commits adultery and though punished, retains the kingship. The spies who distrust God and bring bad reports of the land of Israel perish in a plague, but more dramatically and severely, Korach and his band are swallowed up by the earth. Why the difference?

Rabbi David Wolpe

Shower The People You Love With Love

06/05/2013
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Love is not solely a feeling, but an enacted emotion. We have to act out our love for it to be real, and yet we rarely ascribe our actions to good feelings. “I hit him because I was hurt,” is a commonplace; or, “I lied because I was scared.” But how often do we say, “I gave because I was grateful” or, “I helped out because I felt joyous?”

Rabbi David Wolpe

Mountain Jews

05/28/2013

We were a wandering people but with a direction — headed toward a place. In his brilliant book, “Sinai and Zion,” biblical scholar Jon Levenson contrasts the legacy of the two mountains.  Sinai is the peak of the wilderness, the time of desert wandering. It was a miraculous time — plagues and revelations, splitting seas and early discoveries of God. 

Rabbi David Wolpe
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