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The Prisoner Can Not Release Himself From Prison: Thoughts on the Passing of Robin Williams

Rabbi Michael Bernstein | Posted 08.15.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Michael Bernstein

While death may be undiscovered country, it is life that is the true mystery worth exploring. And for all the voices that Robin Williams used, it was his presence, not his words, that was the key to the lesson.

One Broken People to Another

Rabbi David Seidenberg | Posted 07.30.2014 | Religion
Rabbi David Seidenberg

What is justice, and what is vengeance?

Heart-Breaking Truths About Gaza and Israel

Rabbi Joseph Meszler | Posted 07.28.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Joseph Meszler

As I sit in my comfortable home in Massachusetts, rockets are being fired from Gaza at my nephew in Israel. He is the son of an Israeli, an almost-flu...

The "Eye For An Eye" Fallacy

Rabbi Adam Jacobs | Posted 08.31.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Adam Jacobs

Though it sounds more like the name of a cartoon villain, Lex Talionis (the Law of Retribution) is the Latin name for the Jewish concept of an "eye for an eye." Sadly, many false conclusions about Judaism and its morality have emerged from the general misunderstanding of this important principle.

In Pursuit of True Happiness

Naphtali Hoff | Posted 04.05.2014 | Healthy Living
Naphtali Hoff

We all wish to be happy. We seek material bounty, fulfilling relationships, peace and a connection with nature. But we know that there's another, deeper aspect to happiness, one that scientists cannot measure. It is the fulfillment of our calling and mission, giving us the deep satisfaction that our time here on earth was most fulfilling, for us and those who we impacted.

Thanksgivukkah Foretold in Talmud Over 2000 Years Ago

Salvador Litvak | Posted 01.27.2014 | Religion
Salvador Litvak

In our house, we'd like to cut out the presents entirely, but we don't want our kids to associate being Jewish with getting ripped off, so we compromise with books.

Teaching by Modeling: Living With Inspiration

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz | Posted 11.24.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz

We can preach and teach all day long but if we don't live those values there will be no power of influence. Transformative education happens through mentorship and a life of modeled virtue.

The Ten Commandments of Talking to Friends in Mourning

Rabbi Michael Knopf | Posted 11.12.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Michael Knopf

These are not the only rules, and you might discover good rules to supplement this list. You might also find that pieces of this list do not work for you. I hope you'll share your thoughts for additions or subtractions in the comments.

How I Became the Accidental Talmudist

Salvador Litvak | Posted 11.04.2013 | Religion
Salvador Litvak

Who am I to call myself a Talmudist of any sort? Our Sages of blessed memory were not just gifted teachers, they were also tzaddiks -- righteous individuals who could be counted upon to do the right thing always, and to treat everyone with kindness.

Ben Affleck, Batman and Us: A Spiritual Reflection on the Backlash

Rabbi Michael Knopf | Posted 10.30.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Michael Knopf

What would our lives and our world look like if we became more open to each other's stories and each other's interpretations? What if we accepted multiple ways of viewing even those narratives and myths about which we feel most passionate, or with which we most vehemently disagree?

Some Say You Should Teach a Child to Swim

Jennifer Meer | Posted 10.20.2013 | Parents
Jennifer Meer

It was one of those moments when I saw my kids. I mean really saw them. They weren't babies. They weren't just keeping themselves afloat. They were really swimming. They were scanning the pool for my approval and thumbs up, not for my arms to encircle them and hold them up.

Property Rights and Wrongs in Deuteronomy

Howard J. Curzer | Posted 10.14.2013 | Religion
Howard J. Curzer

Some people say that when you pay taxes -- income tax, sales tax, property tax, etc. -- you are giving your money to the government. Many resent this; some even consider it illegitimate. But this is a mistake.

What Judaism Says About Success

Rabbi David Wolpe | Posted 10.13.2013 | Religion
Rabbi David Wolpe

The accumulation of small moments of connection, goodness, wisdom and love are together a triumph, no matter the external measures that may at time derail or dismay us.

Are Women Dirty?

Rabbi Levi Welton | Posted 09.23.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Levi Welton

Far from being "dirty," the woman's cycle is of the highest purity, for it reminds us that it is the cycles, changes, and opportunities of this physical life that define our greatest spirituality.

Race in America: It Starts With a Story, But It Must Not Stop There

Rabbi Arthur Waskow | Posted 09.22.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Arthur Waskow

There is a teaching in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 70a): "If someone comes to kill you, kill him first." Then the Talmud continues: "But if you can prevent his killing you by wounding him rather than killing him, and nevertheless you kill him, you become a murderer."

The Kabbalah of Baseball

Arthur Kurzweil | Posted 09.16.2013 | Religion
Arthur Kurzweil

When someone offers a blessing of thanks to God, it's like a hit that gets the batter on base, but when you say 'Amen' in response to a blessing it's like an RBI, a 'run batted in.' The first batter scores by going home. And saying "Amen" is a BBI: a blessing batted in.

Legacy And Family: A Hadran For Harry Potter

Rabbi Menachem Creditor | Posted 07.28.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

When my wife and I chose the names of our three precious children, we were committed to naming them after family members we had loved and lost. It struck me immediately, when our youngest daughter was named, that the pantheon of my ancestral family was whole again.

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.

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.

Is God Guilty?

Rabbi Levi Welton | Posted 07.01.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Levi Welton

If God is so Great, why can't He just create a world without any pain whatsoever? I don't want people to stop talking to God. I'm not even angry at God for something terrible like cancer. I just want people to think.

Jewish Peoplehood And Multiple Paths To Loyalty

Rabbi Melissa Weintraub | Posted 06.30.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Melissa Weintraub

Does allegiance to Jewish memory subordinate compassion toward others or elevate it? Does commitment to peoplehood mean devotion and solidarity with our own before all others or alongside them? Both voices sound in tradition, and they are both Jewish.

Contested Prohibitions: Achrei Mot-Kedoshim

Rabbi Toba Spitzer | Posted 06.18.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Toba Spitzer

While we cannot erase the problematic verses about homosexuality from the Torah, we can classify them as teachings that actively negate fundamental principles of Torah, and so are no longer to be accepted as "holy" -- artifacts of the human limitations of our ancestors' quest for holiness.

5 Jewish Responses To The Boston Attacks

Ari Hart | Posted 06.17.2013 | Religion
Ari Hart

As our nation reels and begins to recover from this week's attacks, our religious traditions can offer wisdom and comfort. Here are five primary sources from the Jewish canon. I hope you find some of them helpful in your own grieving and processing.

Netzach And Tragedy

Reb Ezra Weinberg | Posted 06.17.2013 | Religion
Reb Ezra Weinberg

The story of endurance and eternity is heartbreaking in the wake of the Boston Marathon. There are no satisfiable answers to why these things happen. Just a raging desire to find comfort, any kind of comfort, in the face of a ghastly tragedy.

How To Speak Like A Mensch

Rabbi Adam Jacobs | Posted 06.15.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Adam Jacobs

Though it has become popular in our culture for people of influence to project supreme confidence, speak in dismissive tones and dominate the "conversation," Jewish tradition teaches that there are "seven traits that characterize a cultivated individual" -- they all have to do with how we communicate.