Inspiring Story


The Stars in the Past Give Us a Powerful Present

Late Monday night and Tuesday morning, the James Webb Telescope showed its first images after its launch six months ago. And while the images from the Hubble telescope were incredible, these blow away even astronomers. As these images inspire everyone from NASA astrophysicists to ordinary laypeople, they remind us that seeing the size and scope of the universe never gets old. Stars have captured the human imagination for millennia, and we’ve often linked the workings of the heavens with the actions here on earth. In antiquity, the movement of the stars were often used......

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Pesach 2022

This week, we welcome the holiday of Passover, the holiday of freedom. During the Passover seder, we act out the story of our ancestors being redeemed from Egypt. In the Talmud, there’s also the idea that we are supposed to understand ourselves to have been redeemed from slavery, too. And there are those who take it one step further. Our ancestors were redeemed in ancient Egypt, we too were redeemed, and not only that: The 19th-century Chassidic Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (commonly known by the name of his influential book, The Sefat......

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Facing Our Past 

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayakheil, the master artisan Bezalel is putting together all the items for Mishkan, the dwelling-place for God. There are a whole host of materials listed – poles and pails, gratings and basins, fire pans, and fleshhooks, and most of them are presented simply as a list. But only one item has a backstory: “He made the laver of copper and its stand of copper, from the mirrors of the women who performed tasks at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.” (Ex. 38:8) Unlike everything else that......

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And I Did Not Know...

“I GOT ONE!” With the recent announcement by the CDC that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children ages 5-11, my wife Lizzie scrambled to find available appointments for our two oldest children. She refreshed the browser each time the search came up empty, going through the painstaking process of inputting their information multiple times until – finally – she landed appointments for both of them. I can’t quite explain how cathartic it felt to see the confirmation screen with their names on it, to know that we would soon reach......

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Esau and Zero-Sum Thinking

The first question most of us ask about elections is, “Who won?” Whether it’s for President or Town Clerk, Senator or Mayor, Congressperson or School Board member, we often have a preferred candidate going in, and feel either excited or disappointed, depending on the result. In short, we view elections as a zero-sum game: there’s a winner, and there’s a loser, and that’s it. But elections are not the same as politics — in the words of former Governor Mario Cuomo, politicians campaign in poetry, but govern in prose. The goal of......

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Abraham's Conflicted Love

We live in an era of punditry. Everyone has an interpretation of events, yet few of us stop to understand what actually might have happened. Interpretation occludes understanding, as tenuously grand conclusions occlude more modest insights that are built upon a firmer footing. Similar critique might be applied to how many of us approach the founder of the Jewish people, Abraham. To venerate the origins of Judaism itself, we conclude at the outset that he was a moral superhero – all the while deemphasizing a personal life riddled with painful complexity. We......

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