Friday, January 15th 2021   |

Commentaries

Person in the Parsha: Va’era

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

THE STATUS OF OUR FOREFATHERS

This week’s column follows up a thought that I shared with you last week. I suggested that one of our most difficult religious tasks is to “see ourselves as if we had personally left Egypt.” I stated that it required a skill of imagination which most of us lack.

I...

Off the Pulpit: The direction of time

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

When I was in school we learned about a supposed difference between the Greek and Jewish conception of time. The Greeks, we were told, thought of time in a circular fashion, that it repeated itself. The Jews, pointing to the Messiah, thought of time as linear, headed to a destination.

Ecclesiastes which talks about the sun rising and setting and returning to where it rose, is...

Person in the Parsha: Shemot

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“IMAGINING REDEMPTION”

 Passover, Pesach, is approaching. Fast approaching.

Now you may argue that it is still almost a full three months away, and you’d be right. But those who study Daf Yomi, the daily study of a page of Talmud, are already several weeks into their in-depth reading of the tractate of Pesachim and are already...

Off the Pulpit: Today is real, too

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

When I was in college people would tell me that it was not ‘real life.’ Everyone had a definition of ‘real life’ – it began when one was married, or had a job, or had children.

We promote this idea of provisional living – during the pandemic we say we aren’t living ‘real life.’ Someone told me we should now wish one another “until 121” instead of...

Person in the Parsha: Vayechi

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“THE YOKE’S ON US!

We all have received blessings at one time or another. We have certainly received compliments. Over the course of time, we learn that sometimes the compliments are clearly flattering. But occasionally, ambiguous statements are made to us, leaving us confused and unable to determine with certainty whether we are being complimented or insulted.

There are statements which leave us...

Off the Pupit: First comes the deed

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

There is a Talmudic teaching that one should do something and the reason will follow – mitoch shelo l’shma, bah l’shma. Part of this counsel is the understanding that often emotion follows action, rather than preceding it. Act joyously and you will feel joy.

It is easy to get caught in theory and propose ways to live without living. The ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus critiques those too enmeshed...

Off the Pulpit: Why Gandhi couldn’t be Jewish

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

When a family returns from a funeral in the Jewish tradition, there is a meal, seudat havra’ah, the meal of consolation. It is the first step in returning to life after loss. At the end of shiva, the seven days of mourning, the mourners rise and walk around the block. After grieving at home for a week, one must rejoin the outside world.

Shiva is not...

Person in the Parsha: Vayigash

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

 

“FORGIVENESS: A JEWISH VALUE“

This has got to be one of the oldest “rabbi” jokes in the entire repertoire of American Jewish humor. 

It tells us of a young rabbi, fresh from rabbinical school, who addresses his first several sermons to his new congregation on the varied subjects of meticulous Sabbath observance, refraining...

Person in the Parsha: Miketz

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“AN END TO DARKNESS“

 Typically, this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17), is read during Chanukah. This year is an exception. This Shabbat, we read Miketz on the day after Chanukah.

Since my early childhood, I’ve associated the day after Chanukah with sad feelings, feelings of loss. After all, for eight consecutive days, we celebrated...

Off the Pulpit: The Good Enough Child

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

The renowned English psychoanalyst, Donald Winnicott, famously proposed the idea of the “good enough mother.” Winnicott taught that parents should understand that they cannot provide everything the child demands. Yes, the child will grow frustrated, but the developing child’s frustration is essential to autonomy and to growth. Parents need not be – indeed never could be – perfect. It is good enough to be good enough.

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