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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

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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Because there is no more challenging way of choosing life.


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 ...


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 ...