Thursday, September 16th 2021   |

Commentaries

Person in the Parsha: Vayelech

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

ONE VERSE, MANY LESSONS

He was one of the greatest Talmud scholars of the last century, but outside of a small circle of disciples, he was never well-known. He was a tragic figure in many ways, and although few have heard of him today, he has not been totally forgotten.

Interestingly, forgetting was one of the central themes of his many teachings.

His...

Off the Pulpit: Yom Kippur Connections

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

When I was a child and left a school to move to another city, there was a good chance that I would not see my schoolmates again. There was no social media and every lived in their own city and their own world.

Now people can be in touch with almost everyone with whom they crossed paths. We are closer to the population of our own pasts...

Off the Pulpit: Listen to this!

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

The mitzvah is not to blow the shofar, but to listen to it. That may be because only one person can blow and many listen, but I would like to think that it is teaching the Jewish version of why we have one mouth but two ears. Because as much as we need to say things, we need to hear things even more.

We live in...

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 beyond its present state.

Poets have acclaimed the superiority of progress; one of them, Robert...

Off the Pulpit: God and Gershwin

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

On Shabbat morning in synagogue I realized that the (Ira) Gershwin lyric: “The Rockies may tumble/Gibraltar may crumble/ they’re only made of clay/ but our love is here to stay” had a biblical root.

Because we read in the Haftorah from Isaiah 54:10: “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.”

That got me to...

Person in the Parsha: Ki Tavo

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“DIDN’T YOU SEE THEM?“

 It is a question that I learned never to ask. I first learned this lesson in my training as a psychotherapist, long ago. I was seeing a gentleman for a number of problems, including his marital difficulties.

Despite the passage of the years, I still vividly remember the evening in which he...

Off the Pulpit: Wounding and Forgiving

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE Right before Yom Kippur two women who have had a long standing fight see one another in the synagogue. One says: “You know, it is a new year. It is time to put an end to the bickering and fighting. I want you to know that in the new year I wish for you everything you wish for me.”

And the second woman says, “So, you...

Person in the Parsha: Ki Tetzei

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

 

“AND THE WINNER IS…”

It was the first time that I announced a contest from the pulpit. It felt like a risky thing to do, and probably was. But it worked, and I tried it several times over the ensuing years.

It was on the occasion of this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Ki Tetzei,...

Off the Pulpit: A Typical Jew?

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

The sinew of paradox runs through Jewish history. Were Jews and gentiles separate in the Middle Ages? Well yes, but there are also rules about hiring a gentile wet nurse on the sabbath which suggests a degree of intimacy between the two that would shock casual assumptions. Were Jews pious? Well yes, except that from ancient times until today we find innumerable examples of assimilation and...

Person in the Parshah: Shoftim

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“DARWIN AND THE MUSSAR MOVEMENT“

Ethics is a subject about which we all have many questions. What makes an ethical personality? How do we make ethical decisions in complicated circumstances?

Personally, there are two specific questions that have always been of concern to me. One is, “How does one get started upon the process of becoming a...