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About the Author

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Lord Rabbi Sacks is the emeritus chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth. He currently teaches at New York University, Yeshiva University and King’s College London.

The Politics of Responsibility

The Politics of Responsibility

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The 26th chapter of Vayikra sets out with stunning clarity the terms of Jewish life under the covenant. On the one hand, there is an idyllic picture ...


The Economics of Liberty

The Economics of Liberty

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The most surprising best-selling book in 2014 was French economist Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century (1) - a dense 600-page long ...


The Circumcision of Desire

The Circumcision of Desire

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It is hard to trace with any precision the moment when a new idea makes its first appearance on the human scene, especially one as amorphous as that ...


Violence and the Sacred

Violence and the Sacred

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Why sacrifices? To be sure, they have not been part of the life of Judaism since the destruction of the Second Temple, almost 2,000 years ago. But ...


What do We Sacrifice?

What do We Sacrifice?

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A deeper look into the philosophy of animal sacrifices.


Integrity in Public Life

Integrity in Public Life

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There is a verse so familiar that we don't often stop to reflect on what it means. It is the line from the first paragraph of the Shema: "You ...


The Spirit of Community

The Spirit of Community

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What do you do when your people has just made a golden calf, run riot and lost its sense of ethical and spiritual direction? How do you restore ...


Can There be Compassion without Justice?

Can There be Compassion without Justice?

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At the height of the drama of the Golden Calf a vivid and enigmatic scene takes place. Moses has secured forgiveness for the people. But now, on ...


The Ethic of Holiness

The Ethic of Holiness

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With Tetzaveh something new enters Judaism: Torat Cohanim, the world and mindset of the priest. Rapidly it became a central dimension of Judaism. It ...


The Labour of Gratitude

The Labour of Gratitude

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There is an important principle in Judaism, a source of hope and also one of the structuring principles of the Torah. It is the principle that God ...


Healing the Heart of Darkness

Healing the Heart of Darkness

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What makes us moral? And what makes humanity capable of being so inhumane?


The Structure of Good Society

The Structure of Good Society

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In the House of Lords there is a special chamber used, among other things, as the place where new peers are robed before their introduction into the ...


The Face of Evil

The Face of Evil

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After 9/11, when the horror and trauma had subsided, Americans found themselves asking what had happened and why. Was it a disaster? A tragedy? A ...


Telling the Story

Telling the Story

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Identity is based on the narrative that links me to the past, guides me in the present, and places on me responsibility for the future


Freewill

Freewill

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Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart?


On Not Obeying Immoral Orders

On Not Obeying Immoral Orders

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The opening chapters of Exodus plunge us into the midst of epic events. Almost at a stroke the Israelites are transformed from protected minority to ...


When Is It Permitted To Tell a Lie?

When Is It Permitted To Tell a Lie?

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After the death of Jacob, Joseph's brothers were afraid. Years earlier, when he had revealed his true identity to them, he appeared to have forgiven ...


The Birth of Forgiveness

The Birth of Forgiveness

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There are moments that change world: 1439 when Johannes Gutenberg invented movable-type printing press (though the Chinese had developed it four ...


Appearance and Reality

Appearance and Reality

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Finally after 22 years and many twists and turns, Joseph and his brothers meet. We sense the drama of the moment. The last time they had been ...


The Parable of the Tribes

The Parable of the Tribes

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From beginning to end, Genesis 34 tells a terrifying story. Dina, Jacob's daughter - the only Jewish daughter mentioned in the entire patriarchal ...


Love Is Not Enough

Love Is Not Enough

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Judaism is supremely a religion of love: three loves. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all ...


To Be Free, Let Go of Hate

To Be Free, Let Go of Hate

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Straight talk in Britain's House of Lords.


Was Jacob Right To Take the Blessings?

Was Jacob Right To Take the Blessings?

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Was Jacob right to take Esau's blessing in disguise? Was he right to deceive his father and to take from his brother the blessing Isaac sought to ...


The Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers

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The pillar of Jewish life is kindness.


The Binding of Isaac

The Binding of Isaac

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"Take your son, your only son, the one you love - Isaac - and go to the land of Moriah. Offer him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I ...


How Perfect Were the Patriarchs and Matriarchs?

How Perfect Were the Patriarchs and Matriarchs?

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In an extraordinary series of observations on this week's parsha, Nahmanides (Ramban, Rabbi Moses ben Nahman Girondi, 1194 - 1270), delivers harsh ...


Beyond Nature

Beyond Nature

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Are we naturally good or naturally bad? On this great minds have argued for centuries. Hobbes believed that we have naturally “a perpetual and ...


Europe’s Alarming New Anti-Semitism

Europe’s Alarming New Anti-Semitism

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Attacks and hateful rhetoric against Jews are on the rise – and it’s not just Jews who should worry.


On Leadership: Staying Young

On Leadership: Staying Young

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Moses did not fade. That is the accolade the Torah gives him at the end of his long and eventful life: Moses was a hundred and twenty years old ...


On Leadership: Consensus or Command?

On Leadership: Consensus or Command?

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What do you say to your successor? What advice do you give him or her? Vayelech is the place to look for the answer, because it is here that Moses ...


A Leader’s Call to Responsibility

A Leader’s Call to Responsibility

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The story of humanity has been for the most part a flight from responsibility.


Defeating Death

Defeating Death

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Only now, reaching Nitzavim-Vayelech, can we begin to get a sense of the vast, world- changing project at the heart of the Divine-human encounter ...


On Leadership: A Nation of Storytellers

On Leadership: A Nation of Storytellers

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Howard Gardner, professor of education and psychology at Harvard University, is one of the great minds of our time. He is best known for his theory ...


On Leadership: Against Hate

On Leadership: Against Hate

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Do not forget the past but do not be held captive by it.


Learning and Leadership

Learning and Leadership

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The parsha of Shoftim is the classic source of the three types of leadership in Judaism, called by the sages the "three crowns": of ...


On Leadership: Defining Reality

On Leadership: Defining Reality

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One of the gifts of great leaders, and one from which each of us can learn, is that they frame reality for the group. They define its situation. ...


On Leadership:  To Lead Is To Listen

On Leadership: To Lead Is To Listen

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Understanding the depth of listening.


On Leadership:  The Fewest of All Peoples

On Leadership: The Fewest of All Peoples

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Israel would be the smallest of the nations for a reason that goes to the very heart of its existence as a nation.


Why So Much Suffering?

Why So Much Suffering?

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Creating freedom without anarchy, order without tyranny.


The Leader as Teacher

The Leader as Teacher

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It was one of the great moments of personal transformation, and it changed not only Moses but our very conception of leadership itself. By the end ...


Leadership at Times of Crisis

Leadership at Times of Crisis

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Hope, love and the power of humanity.


On Leadership: Conflict Resolution

On Leadership: Conflict Resolution

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Moses as a guide to negotiation and conflict resolution.


Lessons of a Leader

Lessons of a Leader

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Sometimes a leader can go too fast.


Sanctifying Life

Sanctifying Life

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In memoriam Eyal, Gilad and Naftali.


Leadership and Loyalty

Leadership and Loyalty

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Is leadership a set of skills, the ability to summon and command power? Or does it have an essentially moral dimension also? Can a bad man be a good ...


On Leadership: Miriam, Moses' Friend

On Leadership: Miriam, Moses' Friend

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It is one of the great mysteries of the Torah. Arriving at Kadesh the people find themselves without water. They complain to Moses and Aaron. The ...


On Leadership: Servant Leadership

On Leadership: Servant Leadership

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In Judaism to lead is to serve.


On Leadership: Confidence

On Leadership: Confidence

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It was perhaps the single greatest collective failure of leadership in the Torah. Ten of the spies whom Moses had sent to spy out the land came back ...


On Leadership: Power or Influence?

On Leadership: Power or Influence?

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The essence of Jewish leadership.


On Leadership: The Politics of Envy

On Leadership: The Politics of Envy

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Few things in the Torah are more revolutionary than its conception of leadership. Ancient societies were hierarchical. The masses were poor and ...