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Jewish Thought

RETURN AND REPENTANCE 8/30/2020 12:28 PM

We find ourselves towards the end of the month of Elul, standing before the great days of judgment, forgiveness, and renewed commitment. A few weeks ago, I happened to visit my physician on a relatively minor matter. As he handed me a prescription for a lotion that I should apply and a pill that I should take, he inquired as to whether I had ever been vaccinated for pneumonia. When I told him...

ALL ZOOMED OUT 8/23/2020 10:06 AM

Like many other rabbis and teachers, I have been delivering lectures and teaching Torah to a mostly unseen audience via the technological wonder called Zoom. Because of the coronavirus pandemic and the mandatory governmental ordered lockdowns and assorted prohibitions regarding gathering in public places, especially synagogues, I have had little choice in the matter. I believe that I have...

SPIRITUAL FALLOUT 8/16/2020 10:49 AM

The current Corona epidemic has created many types of victims in its wake. Tragically, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people worldwide have died from the effects of the virus, out of the millions of others, really tens if not hundreds of millions of others, who contracted the disease. Thank God, over 90% of those who were sick have recovered and even though there is some anecdotal...

DEMONSTRATIONS 7/27/2020 10:03 AM

Over the past few weeks, the neighborhood that I live in here in Jerusalem, Rechavia, has been subjected to almost nightly demonstrations. The demonstrators gather across from the house of the Prime Minister of Israel, and proceed to make a lot of noise, beat drums, block traffic, and generally make one aware of their presence. However, I am not really clear as to what they are demonstrating for....

WRITER’S BLOCK 7/19/2020 12:37 AM

Human beings who regularly put pen to paper or, in the case of modern society, finger to keyboard or voice to dictating computer programs, are faced with the often-recurring problem of writer’s block. In my experience, writer’s block occurs in two different formats, both of which are equally annoying, frustrating, and challenging. One form of writer's block is that the writer simply has no...

IMPLOSION 7/5/2020 12:00 AM

Even a cursory review of world history allows the reader to realize that great and mighty countries and empires fall not necessarily because of outside pressures, but because of the implosion of the society itself. Rome ruled the world for over five centuries, and, at the height of its power, it succumbed to barbaric tribes. The breakup and disintegration of the Empire came as Rome was...

Isolation 6/28/2020 01:23 PM

When I returned to my home in Jerusalem from a three-month long sojourn with my children in the United States, I observed a self-imposed quarantine of fourteen days in my home. I discovered that isolation from personal contact with other human beings is truly a form of mental and physical distress. I fully understand now why house arrest, let alone solitary confinement, are viewed by criminal...

The Eternal Question 6/9/2020 11:10 AM

As the corona pandemic hopefully wanes, and as we attempt to return to some sort of normalcy and emerge from our isolation, I have reflected on the fact that there is an enormous theological question raised by the events of the past few months. This theological question has always existed and has always been discussed in Jewish life and by Jewish scholars. But this question has never been...

Commentary on Zoom 5/31/2020 09:44 AM

I have been conducting classes and lectures on Zoom for about three months now. I admit that Zoom is a great creation and that it enabled many of us to remain connected one to another, and to be able to study together. However, as with all good things in life, like chocolate and ice cream, they have their limitations and perhaps should only be done in moderation. I find it quite difficult to...

Sights and Sounds 5/25/2020 06:04 PM

Being cooped up in the houses of my children, in Woodmere and Monsey, over the past two months has left me with an ambivalent feeling regarding the experience. On one hand, my family bonds have been strengthened by the fact that I have spent more time with my children in person and with my grandchildren via the miracle of Zoom, than I ever imagined I would still be able to do. But, on the...