Commentaries

Off the Pulpit: Love and Knowledge

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Early in his career Lawrence Olivier was playing Sergius in George Bernard Shaw’s “Arms and the Man.” When English director Tyrone Guthrie came to see the play he asked Olivier: “Don’t you love Sergius?” Olivier answered that he didn’t, and Gurthrie said to him, “Well, of...
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Off the Pulpit: Turn Your Head – For Rosh Hashanah

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

The Psalmist insists that God has removed our sins “as far as east is from west.” (Ps. 103:12). How far is east from west? The Kotzker Rebbe explains – as far as a turn of your head.

We think of changing as a remote, difficult task....
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Off the Pulpit: Your inner Issac

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

My father once explained the character of the biblical Isaac by citing Abraham Mendelssohn. He was a successful banker whose father was the great philosopher Moses Mendelssohn and whose son was the great composer Felix Mendelssohn. Late in life he lamented, “The first half of my...
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Off the Pulpit: Inside and Outside

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

I judge myself from the inside. I know how I feel, how complex are my own motivations and ideas. My view of others is different. Especially when they do something I dislike, I often attribute a single motive, idea or personality trait to them.

Perhaps for this month of...
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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...
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Person in the Parsha: KI TAVO

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

WALLS HAVE EARS?

We all have our secret lives.

I don’t mean to say that each of us has a sinister side, which we wickedly act out in some deep, dark, private world. What I do mean is that we all...
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Off the Pulpit: Who made that?

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Two hundred years from now, on a fine spring afternoon, scientists look up at the heavens and tell God that it is all over — humans can stand on their own.

The scientist says, “Look, God. You were good in your day but we can do...
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Off the Pulpit: Baruch Hashem

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

When you ask a religious Jew how he or she is doing, the answer is likely to be “Baruch HaShem” – blessed be God. Good news often has “Baruch Hashem” added to it as well, as in, “my children are all well, Baruch HaShem.”

Baruch Hashem...
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Person in the Parsha: KI TEITZEH

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

WORDS CAN NEVER HURT 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...
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Person in the Parsha: SHOFTIM

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

JUSTICE, JUSTICE

Like any good grandparent, I have seen my share of little-league baseball games. One summer, I sat through an all-day tournament of four five-inning games. Not too excited about what was happening on the playing field, I found myself slipping into...
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