Commentaries

Off the Pulpit: A Yizkor Message

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

On Yizkor we gather to remember the ones we miss. The ones who knew our world. The one who grasped the corkscrew twists special to your own soul.

What we miss, and what we crave, is the intimacy that assures you in a world that spins no matter...
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Off the Pulpit: Hide and Seek

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Many of the high points of the Jewish tradition depend upon the end of concealment. In the Torah, God was long hidden from humanity until Abraham managed to see the world as filled with God’s presence. At Sinai, the notion of ‘revelation’ presupposes that before, there...
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God’s Prayer – and ours

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

At the beginning of the Talmud, in tractate Berachot, there is a curious question — What is God’s prayer? The Rabbis answer that God prays, “May My mercy overcome My anger.”

When our tradition speaks of God, it is also teaching something about humanity. For...
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Person in the Parsha: Ha’azinu

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“REPRESSION OF THE SUBLIME”

It was advertised as one symposium at a major psychology conference. It was to be a discussion about memory and forgetfulness. But it turned out to be one of the most intense and instructive days that I...
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Rosh Hashanah is how we prove our humanity. Are you ready?

By RABBI DAVID BASHEVKIN 

NEW YORK (JTA) — Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of mankind. But if Rosh Hashanah is indeed the collective birthday of humanity, why do we “celebrate” with all our focus on God, sin and repentance?  The Rosh Hashanah liturgy is filled with references of God’s kingship as humanity...
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Person in the Parsha: Nitzavim

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“THIS SEASON’S LEITMOTIF: RETURN!”

We have all been brought up to believe in the importance of progress. For the past several centuries, the goal of philosophy, religion, culture, and certainly science has been to develop ideas and practices which advance humankind...
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Off the Pulpit: Ignorance and Wisdom

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

In 1913, British novelist E.C. Bentley wrote a mystery called “Trent’s Last Case.” It became a classic not only for the sparkling writing, but because the detective observes meticulously, reasons brilliantly – and comes to the exact wrong conclusion. It is a marvelous lesson in intellectual...
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Person in the Parsha: Ki Tavo

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS”

It was the kind of thing you would hear from old men. “Things just ain’t the way they used to be.” “This new generation is going to hell in a handbasket.” “I remember when things were different and...
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Off the Pulpit: Courts of Love

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

In medieval England and France, there were courts of love. They legislated on questions regarding love, passed sentence on lovers who were in the wrong, and generally tried to establish a system of jurisprudence to keep love disputes from the regular courts.

Charles the IV established...
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Person in the Parsha: Ki Tetzei

THE RICH FRUITS OF FORGIVENESS

The spirit of forgiveness is in the air.

Since the beginning of this month, the month of Elul, Sephardic communities have been reciting selichot, prayers petitioning the Almighty for his forgiveness. They have been doing so each and every day, rising before dawn...
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