Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

In My Opinion

A RETURN TO THE SABBATH 9/15/2014 12:36 PM

During this period of reflective thought, there is one issue that, in my opinion, stands out. And that is the issue of Sabbath observance within the Jewish world. The rabbis of the Talmud placed the Sabbath at the forefront of all the commandments, and essentially as the lodestone of Jewish identity. Sabbath observance brought with it personal trust and cooperation in all social and religious...

SOME THOUGHTS FOR ELUL 9/8/2014 03:10 PM

The month of Elul has always been portrayed as a time of introspection. As we prepare for the coming good and blessed year of 5775, we should also stop to consider the occurrences and events of the past year, 5774. Like most of life, it was a year of contrasts and mixed messages. Israel and the Palestinian Authority negotiated for most of the year but any sort of meaningful agreement failed to...

BACK TO SCHOOL 9/2/2014 01:47 PM

This week marks the return of millions of our children to the regular routine of school. The yeshivot and seminaries of this and other countries have also begun their classroom schedules and study patterns. I think that even though we can all agree that school today is a very necessary part of our society, nevertheless we are also all aware that school contains a downside as well. Not all...

BITTER LESSONS 8/25/2014 12:38 PM

The past has many bitter lessons for the present. Many times the lessons themselves unfortunately provide no answer to current dilemmas since they provided no clear answer to the past dilemmas either. That is what makes these types of historical lessons such bitter ones. It presents the problem in clear perspective but denies us any clear solution to it. One hundred years ago at the...

A STIFF-NECKED PEOPLE 8/17/2014 01:48 PM

The Jewish nation is described in the Torah as being a stiff- necked people. In the context of that particular Torah discussion this description of the people of Israel is not necessarily a complimentary one. It refers to the stubbornness of the generation of the desert of Sinai and their rebellious nature in constantly refusing to abide by God’s will and to accept Moshe’s authority and...

CONFUSING ROLES 8/10/2014 09:00 AM

All people are duty bound to try and help other people in need of such help. Rabbis are especially called upon to be available to help others in their times of distress and difficulties. Nevertheless, it is essential for one to be able to recognize one's limitations and true role. Many a rabbi has gotten himself into deep trouble by acting as a psychologist, therapist, financial advisor,...

THIS ONE FEELS DIFFERENT 8/3/2014 01:52 PM

I have been present in Israel for a number of wars that this small, grave country has been forced to endure. Even before I made Aliyah, I was present here during the first Gulf War when Saddam Hussein rained SCUDs on a then defenseless population here in Israel. Since then I have lived here as an Israeli resident and citizen during the first and second intifada, the second Lebanon war, the...

FECKLESSNESS AND UNWISDOM 7/28/2014 01:38 PM

In Winston Churchill's epic six-volume memoir of the Second World War, in the first volume entitled “The Gathering Storm,” he wrote of the British foreign policy of the 1930s as follows: “[The later disaster was caused by] the English-speaking peoples, [who] through their unwisdom, carelessness and good nature, allowed the wicked to rearm." A good nature is a necessity for personal...

IMPERFECT DEMOCRACY 7/21/2014 12:54 PM

Winston Churchill once famously said that “democracy is a terrible system of government but it is better than any other system.” The irony of that statement has been borne out by the past events of this last century and by current events. It is true that Hitler ruled as a megalomaniac dictator. However, his rise to power was by democratic means and through electoral success. Once in...

THE TERRIBLE TRUTH 7/14/2014 01:19 PM

In my many decades as a public speaker I have encountered many reactions to my words. Though most people love me and are enthralled by what I have to say, many times people have somehow vehemently disagreed and have informed me of their negative opinions. Sometimes people have even walked out while I was still speaking to express their displeasure. Once or twice I remember being heckled by...