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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Ethics

DIFFICULT DECISIONS 12/5/2016 03:32 PM

Part of the tradition of rabbinic jurisprudence is that courts of law should attempt at almost all costs to arrive at a compromise/arbitration decision rather than attempt to enforce the letter of the law. This is undoubtedly because of the fact that true justice is often beyond the abilities and capabilities of ordinary humans. In all major decisions in life there are always, so to speak,...

UNPOPULAR LEADERS 11/13/2016 01:05 PM

There have been many instances in human history when people were not universally popular with their subjects and citizens. No ruler has ever had unanimous popularity and approval – witness Moshe and Korach, for example – but like everything else in life, popularity is never absolute but only relative. In elections a candidate that achieves a fifty-five percent majority is deemed to have...

THAT IS WHAT IT IS 11/7/2016 03:39 PM

There is a great mantra that is repeated very often in Israeli society that basically states “That is what it is.” Basically it is a stoic observation of the never-ending problems, challenges, disappointments and frustrations of life. Many if not even most of these issues are far beyond one’s ability to change or influence. That fact many times serves to make those problems and frustrations...

DOING BETTER 10/26/2016 02:15 PM

In a recent article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal one of the opinion writers for that esteemed newspaper wrote a thoughtful piece about his feelings as he embarked on the annual fast day of holiness. The main thrust of his article was that American society can and should do better. It should produce better candidates for the presidency, it should be a more robust society, it should be...

IDEOLOGY AND HUMANENESS 9/6/2016 03:00 PM

I think that history, both ancient and recent, proves that ideologies by their nature are rigid, oftentimes cruel, even murderous and dangerous. Devotion to a cause, no matter how noble by its very nature, places human beings in a secondary and often expendable position. When the cause is so noble and the venture so necessary and the perceived good of the fulfillment of the ideology are so...

THE BROADCASTER 8/29/2016 01:47 PM

Those of you who regularly read my writings, beloved as you are and may be, know that I like to look at the sport of baseball as a metaphor for life. The simplicity, beauty and quirky unexpectedness and uncertainties of the game accurately mirror the events in one’s personal and national life. Therefore, when I recently read an article about a revered baseball broadcaster, Vin Scully, I felt...

THE OLYMPICS 8/15/2016 03:20 PM

The Olympic Games currently taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are allegedly supposed to be all about sports, fair play and world camaraderie. However, underlying all of the hoopla, spin and fanfare, is the knowledge deep within all of us, that the games are all about money – lots of money for the athletes, promoters, cities involved and the pompous officials who rule the sporting games. ...

TISHA B’AV 8/9/2016 03:22 PM

The Talmud traced the causes for the destruction of the First and Second temples to the spiritual failings and sins of the Jewish people. As those assessments are undoubtedly correct, they are observed in the popular view of the events to be the sole and only causes for these national tragedies. However, it should be obvious to all that failed policies, false assessments of the military and...

I DON’T KNOW 8/1/2016 02:10 PM

My dear friend and esteemed member of our congregation, Professor Robert Aumann, told me a thoroughly wonderful story with a deep moral message. He had gone to visit the late, great Rabbi Gustman in the hospital where the rabbi was being treated for a sore on his foot. His physician was the famed Dr. Heiman, an exceptional person in his own right. The doctor came into the room and told Rabbi...

HARD CHOICES 7/26/2016 02:28 PM

Life consists of a constant series of hard choices that one is forced to make - and this is true of nations as well as of individuals. And, most of the problems of life are caused by the fact that these choices are almost never win – win situations but are rather choices where both are bad options. The Talmud ruefully advises us to choose the least bad alternative available when we are forced...