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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Ethics

THE ABSENCE OF CIVILITY 7/15/2018 02:13 PM

There was a time, well within recorded memory, when political differences and legislative proposals that people had could be discussed and decided with a modicum of civility and even courtesy. That seems not to be true anywhere in the world any longer. Here in Israel we are accustomed to bitter politics and a great deal of personal venom. Yet, somehow this pales in comparison with the current...

CHARITY 6/24/2018 09:47 AM

Giving charity, helping the needy and acting in a compassionate way towards those who need our help, is one of the pillars of Judaism and Jewish life. We are trained from our earliest days to share our wealth with those who, for various reasons, find themselves helplessly in need. The Talmud places great stress on giving charity and doing so in a regularly, compassionately and in an honorable...

WHAT HAPPENED? 6/17/2018 11:56 AM

I have an acquaintance in the United States with whom I occasionally converse and share ideas. He is a retired Rabbi who for many years was a leading figure in the Conservative rabbinic movement in the United States. Even though we have long agreed to disagree on theological matters, nevertheless all relations are cordial and sometimes even interesting and stimulating. Neither of us are...

GRATITUDE 5/21/2018 12:44 PM

As I have often pointed out in these columns, Judaism is to be seen not only as a system of laws and commandments but, even more importantly, as a system of values and overriding attitudes. It really is the value system of Judaism that determines the application of the laws and commandments of the Torah. Without a true understanding of the underlying values and attitudes of the holy and eternal...

AVOT 5/13/2018 09:57 AM

Both the Mishnah and Talmud are unique in their style of composition for in effect it allows the students thousands of years later to feel as though they have entered into that ancient study hall to hear the discussion of the scholars of Israel. Though most of the text of the Mishnah covers matters of law, ritual, commandments and observances, the tractate called Avot deals almost exclusively...

BECHUKOTAI 5/6/2018 10:54 AM

The Torah reading of this week concludes the book of Vayikra. As is obvious to all who study this book, it is primarily concerned with laws and observances and the details connected to those Divine commandments. Even though the Torah had intimated previously that the observance of these commandments was not a matter of pure recommendation or suggestion but that they were mandatory conditions for...

DAYS IN MAY 5/6/2018 10:49 AM

There are times in life that one is able to see the beginning and end of an idea or movement in its entirety. When I was a child I remember vividly that the first day of May was called May Day and was the day of celebration of the proletariat Left. Fiery speeches, and loud bands, tens of thousands of marchers waving red flags all dominated the media and street of the day. The mood of the day...

HERE AND THERE 4/25/2018 12:38 PM

A very dear friend of mine travels extensively several times a year between his family in Europe and his permanent home in Israel. He often tells me that when he is there he wishes to be here and when he was here he often wishes to be there. I am somewhat in the same situation, so I readily can identify with that sort of emotion. But I check myself by the realization that this is a true...

EVER YOUNG 4/9/2018 12:40 PM

One of the great impossibilities of the human condition is to be blessed with old age and many years and yet somehow to remain an essentially young and energetic person in mind, body and spirit. This is not only true in the case of individual people, but it applies to even nations and empires. Age takes its toll in a universal and indiscriminate fashion. Just look at Europe today. It is old...

IT’S THE ZHIDS 3/12/2018 11:28 AM

One of the more uncanny peculiarities in human history has been that whenever a sinister unexplained event in the world occurs, the Jews are immediately sought out as the scapegoats and the cause of the event. Unfortunately there is a very long and bitter history to this phenomenon. It is so deeply ingrained in parts of the non-Jewish world that even in our time, despite a long history and in the...