Compassion and Empathy


Who you are in the field...

Several weeks ago I was teaching Torah to a group of students from around the country that has met weekly for several months. As the sessions meet in the evening time, it usually means that I’m occupied with bedtime routines for our three children right up until 6:59 PM, at which point I make a mad dash into the bedroom to start the class, and wish my wife godspeed for the remaining half hour (on a good night) of the various rituals, routines, and meltdowns that accompany bedtime. About 10 minutes into......

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Don't Try To Be the Hero of Your Story 

With two elementary-school-aged kids, we hear a fair amount of sibling fighting, with only some of it unprovoked. When one of them is getting a little too wild, and, say, someone’s limbs smack into someone else’s body, their first reaction is to say, “I didn’t mean to do it!” And while my wife and I do draw a distinction between purposeful versus accidental actions, we try to focus more on the consequences and how to make it right afterward. That’s what’s so striking about this week’s Torah portion, Vayikra. It outlines the......

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Moral Leadership

The last few weeks have been strange in Canada. A convoy of angry citizens has taken their tractors, semi-trucks, and construction vehicles and established illegal blockades of border crossings in Ontario and other provinces and occupations of the entire neighborhood outside Parliament in Ottawa, as well as protests in other major Canadian cities. This development is anathema to much of what Canadians think of themselves – nice, friendly, reasonable people governed by prudence and shared responsibility. It seems like a sudden shock to many. Where did this come from? In this week’s......

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We Have Returned...

 …even though we never physically left our homes. As in my other post, I want to offer in the same-immediacy-writing commitment a glimpse of where I am now sitting, how I am now sitting, and the hope I feel while being here in this fragmented and polarizing era we find ourselves in, in reconsidering citizenship. I honor that it will be, at some level, incomprehensible or easy-to-dismiss from outside the experience. I honor that only a percentage of the 24 students who engaged in this trip will share in what I have......

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Freedom to Give

“A contract is a transaction. A covenant is a relationship. A contract is about interests. A covenant is about identity. That is why contracts benefit, but covenants transform.“ In these terse words of enduring wisdom, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks draws our attention to the covenants we might long have overlooked and the contracts that we mistook for something more (see Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times for additional wisdom). Such was certainly the case for the Israelites, as becomes evident in this week’s Torah portion, T’rumah (Exodus 25:1 – 27:19). It......

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