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This week's Parsha

Equality under the law and the requirement of personal responsiblity

The combined short sidrot of Matot and Masei bring us back to the early post-Egyptian history of the Israelites. Having wandered for the famous 40 years, Moses and the leadership face battles with nations that preclude their entry into Canaan — the Promised Land.

Wednesday 07/12/2017
Taking an unpopular stand to do what’s right
Posted: July 12, 2017

Parshat Pinchas, Numbers 25:10-30:1

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Wednesday 07/05/2017
What if animals could talk?
Posted: July 05, 2017

Ask any dog owner and they’ll tell you s/he is a “member of the family.” But are they really on the same level? On the one hand, we allow animals into our homes, our bedrooms and our most intimate moments, pouring out our affection on them during the quiet times of our days. We admire animals for their beauty, grace and the warmth they bring to our lives. At the same time, however, we also perceive ourselves as superior to animals. After all, only people were made in God’s image, says Jewish tradition. Humanity seems never to have quite settled on what animals mean to us or how we should treat them.

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Wednesday 06/28/2017
What are you needed for?
Posted: June 28, 2017

Parshat Chukat, Numbers 19:1–22:1

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Wednesday 06/21/2017
The magic of Hershel Potter-stein
Posted: June 21, 2017

Numbers 16:1–17:15

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Wednesday 06/14/2017
Self-interest transforms good into evil
Posted: June 14, 2017

Shelach, Numbers 13:2-26

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Wednesday 06/07/2017
Parshat Beha’alotcha: Virtues of compromise
Posted: June 07, 2017

What is the primary approach judges should take? In this week’s Torah portion, we learn about the nature of the Sanhedrin and its role in ensuring keen justice for the Jewish people. Indeed, compared to systems of justice that only seek retribution over rehabilitation, Judaism takes a more utilitarian approach. Further, Judaism offers a novel approach; that arguing that compromise is the approach of the wise.

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Thursday 06/01/2017
Internalizing a message
Posted: June 01, 2017

How does one determine whether we have infused into our children or students a proper, strong moral and ethical value? How can we see if the lessons that we taught them during their formative years have had the desired impact?

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Wednesday 05/24/2017
Just deserts
Posted: May 24, 2017

When we were children, our teachers would provide us with mnemonic devices to recall how to spell different words correctly. Remember the classic: “i before e except after c”? There was another such pedagogic device that I recall regarding the spelling of the words dessert and desert respectively. My teacher taught that “dessert,” that delicious final course of the meal, was spelled with two S’s because we always wanted seconds, whereas when it came to the desert or wilderness, we generally do not want more than one.

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Wednesday 05/17/2017
The lesson of temporary residence
Posted: May 17, 2017

Financial life should be very simple, according to the Torah. That’s because people who don’t own anything have simple financial lives. And according to the Torah, no one actually owns anything! This is not a communist approach, but rather a biblical approach.

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