This Week In Wisdom


To Forget And To Remember

There are some dark times that we commemorate in a ceremony with the reading of names. And there are some that result in celebrating with oily foods and candles. And there are some where we were so terrified, and now we are so out of our minds to have averted the decree, that we drink. We drink to forget. We don’t ever want to remember it was so awful. Blot out the memory. Forget the darkness. This is Purim. We tell our story of what we went through, and we are commanded......

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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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Seeing the Unseen

Over the last few weeks, the astronomy world watched each step of the James Webb Space Telescope unfold. Aside from all the usual nervousness surrounding a rocket launch, there were 344 single-point failures as it tried to help us see farther, deeper, and more clearly into the reaches of deep space. Miraculously, each step worked exactly as planned – NASA was hoping things would go smoothly, but with rocket science, a lot can go wrong even if the mission is well-planned and designed. There was a palpable sense of relief as the......

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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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