This Week In Wisdom


When Faith Preempts Facts

Our Torah is filled with stories of remarkable courage, leaps of faith, and ventures into the unknown. From Abraham leaving his homeland at God’s behest to his near-sacrifice of his son, we learn from our very first patriarch the ways that faith – often of the “blind” variety – is central to our collective story. But for all the dramatic leaps taken by our ancestors in scripture, one of them stands out among the rest. One of them, in fact, that isn’t even explicitly mentioned in Torah! After a treacherous race out......

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The Plague of Uncertainty

Throughout Moses’ showdown with Pharaoh, there is one overarching, emotional plague that God wreaks upon the Egyptians: uncertainty. They do not know when the litany of discomforts, outrages, upsets, frustrations, pains, and fears will end. We gain insight into the Egyptian mindset just after Moses pronounces that God will bring locusts to eat whatever remains of the crops after the hail. Moses departs Pharaoh’s court and then we read (Exodus 10:7): “Pharaoh’s courtiers said to him, ‘How long shall this one be a snare to us? Let the people go to worship......

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Have We Stopped Dreaming?

In times of prolonged pain, be it emotional or physical, our world constricts and perspectives contract. We focus on the moment-to-moment or the day-to-day. Right now, this describes many of us. The waves of pandemic (and waves of variants) evoke waves of trauma that we have yet to process. We have long since put aside aspirations of self-actualization and seek merely to preserve aspects of ourselves from two years ago. Uncertainty of the future is itself a source of pain, and we have stopped dreaming about what it might hold – or......

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Inviting Kids To Make History By Reading About Hanukkah: A conversation with Emily Singer, author of Gilgul

Emily Singer is the author of a new book — one receiving good attention in many quarters, including a warm review in a recent edition of the Jerusalem Post. The book is called Gilgul, and while it’s intended for middle-school-age readers, and would make a great Hanukkah gift for same, it carries a message we could all use — one combining great pride in ethnic/national/religious identity and genuinely embracing the idea that each particularity must connect with something larger than itself. I had the opportunity to “sit down” with Emily, despite the......

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The Great Forgiving

This week’s Torah portion always gets me in the gut. It’s the story of Jacob returning to his long-estranged brother Esau, from whom he fled 20 years beforehand after betraying Esau by stealing his birthright and blessing. Now, so much time has passed, Jacob doesn’t even know Esau anymore. We can tell this because Jacob takes great pains to send gifts ahead, to prepare for Esau’s wrath but hope for his forgiveness, to plan for any eventual outcome. Jacob can’t anticipate Esau’s reaction. Despite Jacob’s worry that Esau’s still violently mad about......

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No Bow Without Rain

The Covenant between God and Noah, as a representative of humanity, is often seen as a beacon of hope and a universal connection between the Divine and human beings. After the great flood, which destroyed most life, God rebuilds with the promise never to destroy the earth through a great flood again. Genesis 9:13-15, God solemnizes the promise: I have set My bow in the clouds, and it shall serve as a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears......

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