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About the Author

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

]Rabbi Jonathan Sacks served as Britain’s chief rabbi from 1991 to 2013. He was recently named as the 2016 Templeton Prize Laureate. His latest book is Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence

In Search of Jewish Identity

In Search of Jewish Identity

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The other day I was having a conversation with a Jewish intellectual and the question came up, as it often does, as to the nature of Jewish ...


The Courage to Admit Mistakes

The Courage to Admit Mistakes

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Some years ago I was visited by the then American ambassador to the Court of St James, Philip Lader. He told me of a fascinating project he and his ...


The Power of Shame

The Power of Shame

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Internet and social media as instruments of public shaming illustrates the power and the danger of a culture of shame.


Anti-Zionism Is the New Anti-Semitism

Anti-Zionism Is the New Anti-Semitism

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The blood libel of our time.


The Eighth Day

The Eighth Day

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Our parsha begins with childbirth and, in the case of a male child, "On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised" ...


The Dangers of Enthusiasm

The Dangers of Enthusiasm

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Understanding the death of Nadav and Avihu.


Understanding Sacrifice

Understanding Sacrifice

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One of the most difficult elements of the Torah and the way of life it prescribes is the phenomenon of animal sacrifices - for obvious reasons. ...


The Pursuit of Meaning

The Pursuit of Meaning

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Where what we want to do meets what needs to be done, that is where God wants us to be.


Don't Sit:  Walk

Don't Sit: Walk

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Judaism is a journey, not a destination.


The Social Animal

The Social Animal

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At the beginning of Vayakhel Moses performs a tikkun, a mending of the past, namely the sin of the Golden Calf. The Torah signals this by using ...


The Closeness of God

The Closeness of God

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Many nations worship God, but Jews are the only people to count themselves His close relatives.


Inspiration and Perspiration

Inspiration and Perspiration

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Achieving any form of spiritual growth requires sustained effort and daily rituals.


The Gift of Giving

The Gift of Giving

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It was the first Israelite house of worship, the first home Jews made for God. But the very idea is fraught with paradox, even contradiction. How ...


Doing and Hearing

Doing and Hearing

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One of the most famous phrases in the Torah makes its appearance in this week's parsha. It has often been used to characterise Jewish faith as a ...


To Thank Before We Think

To Thank Before We Think

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The Ten Commandments are the most famous religious-and-moral code in history. Until recently they adorned American courtrooms. They still adorn most ...


Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy

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The first translation of the Torah into another language - Greek - took place in around the second century BCE, in Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy ...


The Spiritual Child

The Spiritual Child

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Connecting children to something larger than themselves.


Spirits in a Material World

Spirits in a Material World

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The Torah sometimes says something of fundamental importance in what seems like a minor and incidental comment. There is a fine example of this near ...


Turning Curses Into Blessings

Turning Curses Into Blessings

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Genesis ends on an almost serene note. Jacob has found his long lost son. The family has been reunited. Joseph has forgiven his brothers. Under his ...


On Not Predicting the Future

On Not Predicting the Future

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Jacob was on his death-bed. He summoned his children. He wanted to bless them before he died. But the text begins with a strange ...


Reframing

Reframing

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If we change the way we think, we will change the way we feel.


To Wait Without Despair

To Wait Without Despair

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God answers our prayers, but often not when we thought or how we thought.


How to Change the World

How to Change the World

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Change a life, and you begin to change the universe.


Feeling the Fear

Feeling the Fear

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Courage does not mean having no fear. It means having fear but overcoming it.


How the Light Gets In

How the Light Gets In

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Why Jacob? That is the question we find ourselves asking repeatedly as we read the narratives of Genesis. Jacob is not what Noah was: righteous, ...


A Father’s Love

A Father’s Love

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Why did Isaac love Esau?


Faith in the Future

Faith in the Future

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First you have to build a future. Only then can you mourn the past.


The Jews, 50 Years from Now

The Jews, 50 Years from Now

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What will be the condition of the Jewish community 50 years from now?


To Bless the Space Between Us

To Bless the Space Between Us

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There is a mystery at the heart of the biblical story of Abraham, and it has immense implications for our understanding of Judaism. Who was Abraham ...


Journey of the Generations

Journey of the Generations

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Mark Twain said it most pithily. “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when ...


The Art of Listening

The Art of Listening

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Exploring the sin of the first man.


Moses' Death, Moses' Life

Moses' Death, Moses' Life

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And so Moses dies, alone on a mountain with God as he had been all those years ago when, as a shepherd in Midian, he caught sight of a bush in ...


The Arc of the Moral Universe

The Arc of the Moral Universe

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In majestic language, Moses breaks into song, investing his final testament to the Israelites with all the power and passion at his command. He ...


Torah as Song

Torah as Song

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Moses' long and tempestuous career is about to end. With words of blessing and encouragement he hands on the mantle of leadership to his successor ...


Why I Am a Jew

Why I Am a Jew

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The most fateful moment in my life came when I asked myself, “Who am I?” This is my answer.


The Two Voices: A New Perspective on the Meaning of Teshuvah

The Two Voices: A New Perspective on the Meaning...

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An intellectual journey exploring the concept and deep meanings of Teshuvah. (1 hr class)


Why Judaism?

Why Judaism?

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Choice is like a muscle: use it or lose it.


The Pursuit of Joy

The Pursuit of Joy

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Happiness, said Aristotle, is the ultimate good at which all humans aim.[1] But in Judaism it is not necessarily so. Happiness is a high value. ...


To the Third and Fourth Generations

To the Third and Fourth Generations

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There is, on the face of it, a fundamental contradiction in the Torah. On the one hand we hear, in the passage known as the Thirteen Attributes of ...


Environmental Responsibility

Environmental Responsibility

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Some commands in the Torah were understood so narrowly by the sages that they were rendered almost inapplicable. One example is the ir ha-nidachat, ...


The Second Tithe and the Making of a Strong Society

The Second Tithe and the Making of a Strong...

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Biblical Israel from the time of Joshua until the destruction of the Second Temple was a predominantly agricultural society. Accordingly, it was ...


The Power of Gratitude

The Power of Gratitude

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Gratitude is at the heart of what it means to be a Jew.


The Right and the Good

The Right and the Good

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Heroes of the moral life go the extra mile and do more than they are commanded.


Why Are There So Many Jewish Lawyers?

Why Are There So Many Jewish Lawyers?

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Justice lies at the beating heart of Jewish faith.


Retribution and Revenge

Retribution and Revenge

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Near the end of Bemidbar, we encounter the law of the cities of refuge: three cities to the east of the Jordan and, later, three more within the ...


Elijah and the Still, Small Voice

Elijah and the Still, Small Voice

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Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘Why are you here, Elijah?’ He replied, I am moved by the zeal for the Lord, God of ...


Fighting BDS in the Name of Human Rights

Fighting BDS in the Name of Human Rights

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BDS is the latest incarnation of the denial to Jews as a distinctive faith and people the right to govern themselves in the land of their beginnings.


Assembling Reminders

Assembling Reminders

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You are driving ever so slightly above the speed limit. You see a police car in your rear view mirror. You slow down. You know perfectly well that ...


Inspiring Greatness in Others

Inspiring Greatness in Others

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David Brooks, in his new best seller, The Road to Character,[1] draws a sharp distinction between what he calls the resume virtues - the ...


Two Versions of the Moral Life

Two Versions of the Moral Life

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The parsha of Naso contains the laws relating to the nazirite - an individual who undertook, usually for a limited period of time, to observe ...