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Rabbi Shai Held
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Entries by Rabbi Shai Held

Turning Memory Into Empathy: The Torah's Ethical Charge (Mishpatim, Exodus 21:1-24:18)

(0) Comments | Posted January 22, 2014 | 10:44 AM


One of the Torah's central projects is to turn memory into empathy and moral responsibility. Appealing to our experience of defenselessness in Egypt, the Torah seeks to transform us into people who see those who are vulnerable and exposed rather than...

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Holding Gratitude & Disappointment: What We Learn from Leah (VaYetze, Genesis: 28:10-32:3)

(7) Comments | Posted November 5, 2013 | 12:30 PM

It's not often that a biblical character makes you want to cry, but if you pay careful attention to the matriarch Leah, she can break your heart.* Leah is married to Jacob, a man who does not love her -- indeed, who...

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Religion's Most Urgent Problem

(5) Comments | Posted September 9, 2011 | 11:43 AM

Speaking in 1945, Orthodox Zionist leader Moshe Unna made an impassioned case for what he called "Jewish humanism." Unna was calling not for humanism in the sense of putting human beings rather than God at the center of the universe -- a view no religious thinker could embrace -- but...

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Lighting Up the Darkness: Hanukkah as a Spiritual Practice

(7) Comments | Posted December 5, 2010 | 6:13 PM

We are all of us afraid of the dark. At night, anxieties suppressed or repressed come swimming to the surface of consciousness: am I safe? Am I loved? Am I needed? Is there meaning in the world, or is it all, ultimately, just a swirl of chaos?

For some...

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