Commentaries

Off the Pulpit: Excellence, Not Perfection

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

As a child I had the disorienting experience of visiting other children’s homes and discovering that their families sometimes did things better than my own. Because I loved my own family and thought them ideal, I didn’t know what to do with this information. Eventually I...
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Person in the Parsha: Ekev

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

As a parent, grandparent, and psychologist, I am often considered to be something of an expert on parenting and child-rearing. In that capacity, I have frequently been asked to review or give an opinion about any of the plethora of books on the subject of...
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Off the Pulpit: Only God, My Dear

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

“My beloved is radiant… the winter is passed.” So does the Song of Songs, Judaism’s preeminent poem of passion, speak about the warmth and glow of the one who is loved. Such similes endure throughout the ages. Shakespeare asks if he shall compare his love to...
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Off the Pulpit: Tu B’Av

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Tonight begins Tu B’av, the Jewish holiday that celebrates love. I am in Venice, Italy for a conference and will be chairing a discussion of love in the modern world. There are many sorts of love: familial, friendship, even love of those things we cannot possess...
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Person in the Parsha: Devarim

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

THE PATH TO ELOQUENCE

It is an experience common to all freshmen. One comes to a new campus, knows no one, and tries to orient himself by identifying the senior students who seem to have prestige. Then, he tries to connect...
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Person in the Parsha: Va’etchanan (Shabbat Nachamu)

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“A SABBATH OF CONSOLATION”

I was very fortunate as a young boy, and in one particular way I knew it. Very few of my friends had living grandparents. Their families had recently arrived in America, and their grandparents remained behind in...
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Off the Pulpit: Peace or discontent?

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

There are powerful competing ideologies of religious meaning, one promoting acceptance and the other, discontent. Are we supposed to accept the world, be at peace with its foibles and tragedies, or are we to fight always against the world, to seek to make it better and not...
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Off the Pulpit: Normal Mystics

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

The rabbinic scholar Max Kadushin came up with a marvelous title for the Rabbis of the Talmud. He called them “Normal Mystics.”

Mystics throughout history have seen visions denied to the rest of humanity. Many retreat from the world to mountaintops or forests in order to...
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Off the Pulpit: Effortful Eloquence

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

When God calls to Moses at the burning bush, Moses protests that he cannot go to Pharaoh because he has a speech impediment. If the Torah were a children’s fairy tale book, God would have simply cured Moses of his impediment, and sent him to Pharaoh.

...
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Off the Pulpit: Broken Whole Hearts

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

When someone suffers the loss of a person whom they love, there is always a certain wonder and even resentment that the world seems not to notice. The heavens do not open, the sun still shines, and most people go about their business as if...
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