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Jewish Wisdom

Why Is the 'Tinderbox West' the New Normal?

Rabbi Arthur Waskow | Posted 10.02.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Arthur Waskow

In Arizona a few weeks ago, 19 highly skilled firefighters were killed by a fire in what the New York Times called "Deadly New Normal: A Tinderbox West."

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

Rabbi Shaul Wertheimer | Posted 09.21.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Shaul Wertheimer

While numerous joyous events took place on Tu B'Av, it may seem a bit strange that our sages relate that no other day even comes close.

A Precondition for Intrafaith Engagement

Benjamin Barer | Posted 08.19.2013 | Religion
Benjamin Barer

We must make the compromises needed to ensure that we can laugh and cry together. I mean this literally and figuratively: we must become comfortable enough in each other's worlds to attend each other's funerals and weddings.

Let's Choose Certainty And Life

Rabbi Aaron Alexander | Posted 08.14.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Aaron Alexander

One wonders how the specious claims of the no-control gun advocates -- so filled with uncertainty and conjecture -- stands against the certainty of any human lives being saved. If this is a clash of simple values, then I choose life.

War: What Is It Good For? Not For The Sake of Heaven

Rabbi Michael Bernstein | Posted 08.11.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Michael Bernstein

Our tradition values peace above all things, and yet, were it not for the willingness to take arms and fight in 1944, there would have been no way to thwart the Nazis and most likely no Israel to defend in 1967. How can we understand such moments?

Serpents, Inner Demons And Spiritual Renewal

Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein | Posted 08.11.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein

The tale of the copper serpent is not simply about the destructive power of sin; it is about our capacity to grow, and ultimately triumph, in spite of it.

The God I Don't Believe In

Rabbi Richard A. Block | Posted 08.10.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Richard A. Block

I don't know if God is aware of us, hears our prayers or answers them. As a teacher once told me when I asked if he believed in God, "I live in the tension between believing and not believing."

Mandela, Lincoln And The Tutsis: A Future Built On Forgiveness

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz | Posted 08.06.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz

Forgiveness is hard, and sometimes seemingly impossible. However, before we decide that we cannot forgive, we should consider the price of not seeking forgiveness: Without it, there is no future.

Are We Afraid Of Talking About G-d?

Elad Nehorai | Posted 08.04.2013 | Religion
Elad Nehorai

Most of us consider G-d a four letter word. Something to be avoided at all costs, lest we be associated with the crazies and the terrorists and the preachers. When I started my journey into becoming a religious Jew, I figured this was finally going to change. It didn't.

Why Can't We Worship Idols?

Rabbi David Wolpe | Posted 08.02.2013 | Religion
Rabbi David Wolpe

The Hebrew Bible contains no prohibition on atheism, but is filled with prohibitions against idolatry. The Torah teaches that it is safer to worship no God than to worship the wrong one.

Spelling Community (Or Kehila And The Bee)

Rabbi Michael Bernstein | Posted 07.31.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Michael Bernstein

What makes a community is a constant recognition of how each individual acts in accord with an investment in the success of our endeavors, the valuing of our principles and, most importantly, the wellbeing of each other, whether in the national spectacle of spelling prowess or in the communities to which we belong.

Have A Little Faith

Ron Kronish | Posted 07.31.2013 | Religion
Ron Kronish

While Mitch Albom's "Have a Little Faith" is a book about two people of two very different faiths, it was written, as the author tells us at the beginning of the book, "in the hope that all faiths can find something universal in this story."

Jewish Lists: What They Say About Us

Rabbi Yonah Bookstein | Posted 07.29.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Yonah Bookstein

Whether we are aware of it or not, published Jewish lists have been around at least since the sixth century when the scholars and leaders of the Jewish community were in exile in Babylonia.

Are Gentiles Cool?

Rabbi Levi Welton | Posted 07.28.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Levi Welton

When I hear the word "non-Jew," all I know is that the person in reference is not of the Jewish faith or culture. He could be of any other background, but this expression strips his identity down into one faceless lump of "gentile." Not a spiritually mature way of speaking about other people.

Welcoming The Dalai Lama To New Orleans

Rodger Kamenetz | Posted 07.17.2013 | Religion
Rodger Kamenetz

In the midst of our wreckage that I speak to you, both as a Jew and as a New Orleanian, because survival is not just a matter of urban planning, or of financial aid, or willfulness. It is something deeper. It is of the soul.

The Shavuot Festival Mystery And Its Business Implication

Yaacov Cohen | Posted 07.14.2013 | Religion
Yaacov Cohen

According to Jewish tradition, the upcoming festival of Shavuot is the anniversary of the giving of the Torah and the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. Oddly though, we find no clear link in the Bible between the Shavuot festival and the giving of the Torah.

Managing Life's Transitions With The Omer

Aviva A. Perlo | Posted 07.14.2013 | Religion
Aviva A. Perlo

When tragedy, illness and accidents occur, our worldview morphs immediately. Stability is shaken as reality turns upside down. The Omer says we must go slowly.

Missteps On The Path Of Spiritual Growth

Aryeh Ben David | Posted 07.13.2013 | Religion
Aryeh Ben David

I started my journey in my 20s in Jerusalem. I didn't know anything about spirituality. I wanted to have answers. I wanted to "do it right." So I learned for a full 10 years. Along the way, I acquired a lot of knowledge. But I was so busy fitting in that I didn't notice that I had departed from myself.

How Is My Learning? Proposing An Annual Jewish Learning Checkup

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Posted 07.13.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Mishael Zion

On Shavuot night, thousands of Jews will place learning at the center of Jewish life, encountering texts and ideas late into the night, across Jewish practices and ideologies. What does it mean to take Jewish learning into the year?

Western Wall Clashes: Searching For A New Way Together

Rabbi Pinchas Allouche | Posted 07.13.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Pinchas Allouche

Instead of fighting over the different forms of prayer, let us pray over the different forms of fighting, and ask that we reunite as one, with our hearts and ears, in respect and in dignity.

Life, Death And Cheesecake: The Truth About Shavuot

Rabbi Shais Taub | Posted 07.12.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Shais Taub

You would think people would get excited about mass prophecy, but alas, there's no denying: Passover, the holiday of the Exodus, is way more popular than Shavuos, when we received the Torah. Why is it that we are more attracted to drama than to enlightenment? The solution is cheesecake.

The Revelation Will Not Be Televised

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg | Posted 07.09.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg

So many of us are in constant motion, hurtling down the street with smartphone in hand, running from work to social lives to home, running from north to east to south and back again, chasing a truth of some sort and not finding it -- and, perhaps, wondering why we're not hearing God's voice more often than we do.

Dynamic Connections: The Theology Of 'The Runaway Bunny'

Rabbi Menachem Creditor | Posted 07.09.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

The children's classic "The Runaway Bunny" might seem an odd place to begin a theological reflection. But for a child who has ever tested the strength of a parent's love, this story offers both reassurance and challenge.

What My Dad Learned In Prison

Rabbi Evan Moffic | Posted 07.07.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Evan Moffic

Quite often we find new meaning and strength where we least expect it. Quite often it lies waiting for us to discover. We simply have to look within ourselves.

Leadership In The Wilderness

Erica Brown | Posted 07.07.2013 | Religion
Erica Brown

We walked through the wilderness with eyes wide shut. Instead of neglecting the lessons of Bemidbar, perhaps -- in an age of questionable leadership -- we need to read it more slowly and carefully and pay better attention to the landscape.