Commentaries

Off the Pulpit: Thanks

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

When Rudyard Kipling’s popularity was at his height, the story goes, he used to receive 10 shillings a word for his stories. Two students at Oxford mischievously sent him a letter enclosing 10 shillings, explaining that they had heard of his rate per word, and...
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Off the Pulpit: Here to Stay

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

After Yom Kippur comes Succot. Repentance, then rain.

Succot actually reinforces the theme of Yom Kippur in a powerful way. The Day of Atonement teaches the brevity of life – who shall live and who shall die. Coming off the day we might feel insecure, knowing...
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Person in the Parsha: Bereshit

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

IF I AM I

There are many persons in this week’s parshah. Chief among them, of course, are Adam and Eve, the very first persons on earth. But the names of quite a few others are listed. Some are obscure, like Kenan and...
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Off the Pulpit: Divided Creatures

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Each of us faces two kinds of intertwined struggles: those with the world and those inside oneself. True, if you change yourself you are likely to act differently toward others, and if you act differently it will trigger changes in the self. Yet we still appreciate...
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Off the Pulpit: Blessings and Bereavements

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

As a pulpit rabbi, I look out each High Holidays at a different congregation. The year before we chanted “who shall live and who shall die.” I see absences – people who were there the year before who are no longer there. Bereavements have left spaces...
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Person in the Parsha: Ha’azinu

By RABBI TSVI HERSH WEINREB

“REPRESSION OF THE SUBLIME”

It was advertised as one symposium at a major psychology conference. It was to be a discussion about memory and forgetfulness. But it turned out to be one of the most intense and instructive days that...
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Off the Pulpit: Praying that you can pray

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

On Rosh Hashanah we repeat U’vchein ten Pachdecha which is literally – grant your fear. Since fear seems such a negative concept, why is this phrase so central to the prayers?

Fear can be a more powerful motivator than love. You may love others,...
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Off the Pulpit: The music inside us

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

In this month of Elul before Rosh Hashana we blow the shofar each morning after the minyan. Several years ago I used to listen to the shofar masterfully blown by Rabbi Mark Fasman, who was also a concert trumpet player. I once asked him why he...
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Person in the Parsha: Nitzavim

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“LESSONS OF EQUALITY”

For some time, certain ideas have dominated my consciousness. Don’t worry, these are not obsessive thoughts, and I am not a candidate for a psychiatric diagnosis. Rather, whenever I prepare a speech lately, or sit down to write...
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Off the Pulpit: A deep teaching

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

A beautiful question-and-answer in the name of the Gerer Rebbe: When strangers come to visit Abraham (Genesis 18), the Torah tells us that Abraham, who was in God’s presence, rushes out to visit the strangers. The Talmud comments on this that we learn it is more...
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