Thursday, September 23rd 2021   |

Commentaries

Off the Pulpit: Laughter and Love

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

In years of interviewing bar and bat mitzvah students, a few patterns have recurred. One of the questions I ask is — if your best friend were sitting here, what would she or he say about you? And by far the most common single answer, surprisingly, is, “I’m funny.”

Now we have to assume that not every 13-year-old is a budding Seinfeld. But the deeper implication...

Person in the Parsha: Matot-Masei

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“HONESTY AND INTEGRITY”

 Every so often, I come across a sentence of another person’s writing which expresses one of my own thoughts in a language far superior to my own. Over the years, I have contemplated and written about the concepts of “honesty” and “integrity” and the difference between the two.

But never was I able...

Off the Pulpit: Unkind Thoughts

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

In decades of serving as a rabbi, I cannot tell you for sure which phenomenon in the synagogue is most commonly helpful, but I can tell you which is the most commonly destructive – the assumption of ill-will.

Disagreements are expected. Even arguments can be salutary. God knows the Jewish people have a decided tendency to argue. But the belief that the other person is advancing a position because...

Person in the Parsha: Pinchas

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

 “ZEALOTRY AND TOLERANCE”

Jewish people teach Jewish values to their children, and to all who wish to be informed about their faith. If one is asked “Should I or should I not?” we generally respond with clear and certain advice: “Yes, you should”, if the value is a positive one, or “No, you should not”, when the value...

Off the Pulpit: Heart Shells

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

When my brother and I were kids, we would go into the front yard and play egg toss. The idea of the game was to move farther and farther from one another and toss the egg so that the other could catch it without allowing the shell to break. My mother did not approve of this game.

The key to success was to move your hands with...

Person in the Parsha: Balak

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST: ITS RELEVANCE TODAY”

Ugaritic. Sumerian. Akkadian. Hittite.

These are words that I never heard in all the years of my traditional Jewish education. They are the names of four important cultures and languages in the Ancient Near East. All of these cultures were contemporaneous with the stories of the Bible which most of...

Off the Pulpit: Why Jew Hatred Is Different

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

In the history of most group hatred, there is a limit – geographical, economic or cultural. Some people may express hatred of Asians, but they do not wish to wipe China and Japan off the map. Some people may hate African Americans, but they don’t wish the world to be rid of all people of color, even if they wish their corner of the world to...

Person in the Parsha: Chukat

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“The Many Songs of Leadership” 

Everyone has his or her own voice. Some express it loudly and clearly; some just mumble or whisper. There are those who let their voices be heard only in their professional lives and are silent and withdrawn at home. Others use their voices only within their families and stifle their voices in the outside world.

Off the Pulpit: The Failure of Success

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

People often speak about the lessons one can learn from failure. We know that failure can teach you humility, resilience and a certain acceptance of the inequities of life. There are also lessons to learn from early success, both good and bad.

Dostoevsky had a gambling problem. The great novelist was often in debt and yet could not prevent himself from losing still more at the gambling tables. His compulsion...

Person in the Parsha: Korach

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“THE SECRET OF REMAINING CORRECT“ 

Very often, we think that if a person is especially spiritual, he cannot possibly be very practical. It is as if religious devotion and good common sense just don’t go together.

My own experience has taught me that, on the contrary, some of the soundest advice I have ever received came...