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Showing posts from October, 2017

MHA Operational Dinner Speech, September 2017

A tension exists at the heart of Judaism and, for that matter, any human encounter with authority - when is it appropriate to question and when is it appropriate to accept?

Parents of younger children often confront this tension – a parent gives a directive – let’s say, “Go to bed.” The child asks, “Why?” The parent responds with an explanation. The child asks again, “Why?” Ultimately, the parent attempts to close the line of inquiry with, “Because I said so!”

In our Western milieu, with its focus on the rights of the individual, this tension is particularly acute. The tendency of our American society is to open everything to questioning and to possible rejection – the ethical standing of our leaders, the morality of our institutions and patriarchs and the validity of those branches of government that have a monopoly of violence.

We are living through an incredible age in which knowledge itself is seemingly under attack – the authority of journalists, bloggers and other purveyors of inf…

The Sukkah - Learning to Love Mitzvot - Yom Kippur - September 28, 2017

There is a very interesting gemara at the beginning of Masechet Avodah Zara concerning the end of days that concludes with a presentation of two totally different attitudes towards the mitzvah of sukkah:

In times to come, the Holy One, Blessed be He, will take a scroll of the Law in His embrace and proclaim, “Let him who has occupied himself with this, come and take his reward.” All of the nations will crowd together in confusion. The Holy One, Blessed be He, will then say to them, “Do not come before Me in confusion, but let each nation come in with its scribes.”

The Kingdom of Edom (or Rome) will enter first before Him. The Holy One, Blessed be He, will then say to them, “With what have you occupied yourselves?” They will reply, “O Lord of the Universe, we have established many market-places, we have erected many baths, we have accumulated much gold and silver, and all this we did only for the sake of Israel, that they might [have leisure] for occupying themselves with the study of t…