Saturday, October 31st 2020   |

Commentaries

Off the Pulpit: Bring Them Home

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

For five years Hamas has kept the bodies of two soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. For six years, an Israeli citizen Avraham Mengistu, has been held by Hamas.

One of the byproducts of distress is that it wipes out the distress of others. As the world has been struggling with the pandemic and all kinds of social unrest, many of us have...

Person in the Parsha: Rosh Hashanah

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

WILLING TO CHANGE

Sometimes even the corniest of old jokes has a profound lesson to teach us.

“How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?”

In case you haven’t already heard the answer to this example of tired “light bulb” humor, it goes like this: 

“Just one....

Off the Pulpit: Quiet?

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

“Live out loud, you are unique, celebrate who you are.” Our world is awash in such slogans. Self-esteem is prized, self-assertion applauded and spiking the football, rather than arrogance, is considered justifiable pride.

There is another way of being in this world described in our tradition. The three Hebrew letters for “me” – aleph, nun and yod, can be rearranged to spell “ayin” which means “nothing.” When...

Person in the Parsha: Nitzavim-Vayelech

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

 

REFLECTIONS UPON THE YEAR’S END

It is the last Sabbath of this year, and we will shortly usher in the New Year.

Without a doubt, there is quite a bit of sadness attached to this Sabbath, and indeed, to this time of year. Sure, we look forward to a new year with...

Off the Pulpit: Three Short Shofar Lessons

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

The one who blows the shofar produces the sound from within his or her body. The force of the shofar is breath, in Hebrew, ruah – spirit. In order to create the sound properly one must bring one’s spirit to the world.

The second lesson is how one creates the sound. As Cynthia Ozick observed, the shofar has a broad end and a narrow end. If you begin...

Person in the Parsha: Ki Tavo

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINRE

TO EACH HIS LANGUAGE 

There was a time when the literary treasures of the Jewish people were accessible only to those with a reading knowledge of Hebrew. This is no longer the case. I know of no major Jewish religious work which has not been translated into English in recent years and, in most instances, into...

Off the Pulpit: How Life Imitates Chess

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

While the pandemic has been disastrous for many activities, it has been a boon for chess. Online tournaments have exploded, thanks largely to the world champion Magnus Carlsen. I became a chess player at 14, and fell so deeply into the game that on my bedroom door in high school, was a quote from Grandmaster Isaiah Horowitz: “Of chess they say that life is not long...

Off the Pulpit: Whose Ancestor Are You?

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

When John Churchill, later the Duke of Marlborough, became a peer in 1682, another lord asked Churchill with a sneer, “whose descendant are you?” Churchill answered, “I am not a descendant. I am an ancestor.”

Churchill was prophetic, as he was in fact the ancestor of Winston Churchill, who would be his eventual biographer as well. Moreover, his response challenges all of us. We know what...

Person in the Parsha: Ki Tetzei

 By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

WORDS CAN NEVER HARM ME?

For many of us, the first pieces of wisdom which we learned were from nursery rhymes and schoolyard jingles. Sometimes these childish lessons had value, but more often they were off the mark and had the effect of distorting a truer perspective on life.

Take, for example, this ditty:...

Person in the Parsha: Shoftim

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

TREE-LIKE

I love metaphors. An apt metaphor can help stimulate boundless creativity and can lead to a deeper and richer understanding of the concept being studied.

Take, for example, the metaphor of a tree as representing a human being. We find this metaphor in this week’s Torah portion, Shoftim, in the following verse: