click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Join 400,000 Aish subscribers
Get Email Updates




About the Author

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Sacks is the former Chief Rabbi of the UK and the Commonwealth, philosopher and the author of 25 books.

Three Types of Community

Three Types of Community

by

A long drama had taken place. Moses had led the people from slavery to the beginning of the road to freedom. The people themselves had witnessed God ...


Two Types of Religious Encounter

Two Types of Religious Encounter

by

Framing the epic events of this week's Torah portion are two objects - the two sets of tablets, the first given before, the second after, the sin of ...


Prophet and Priest

Prophet and Priest

by

The portion of Tetsaveh, as commentators have noted, has one unusual feature: it is the only portion from the beginning of Shemot to the end of ...


In the Details

In the Details

by

God is in the details.


Two Narratives of Creation

Two Narratives of Creation

by

The Torah describes two acts of creation: God's creation of the universe, and the Israelites' creation of the mikdash or mishkan, the sanctuary that ...


The Politics of Revelation

The Politics of Revelation

by

The revelation at Mount Sinai - the central episode not only of the parshah of Yitro, but of Judaism as a whole - was unique in the religious ...


To Be a Leader of the Jewish People

To Be a Leader of the Jewish People

by

That day, God saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians ... The Israelites saw the great power God had displayed against the Egyptians, and the ...


Freedom's Defence

Freedom's Defence

by

And you shall explain to your child on that day, 'It is because of what the Lord did for me when I went free from Egypt'. It was the moment for ...


Of Lice and Men

Of Lice and Men

by

Throughout all Egypt the dust turned into lice. But when the magicians tried to produce lice by their secret arts, they could not. The lice attacked ...


Leadership and the People

Leadership and the People

by

The sedra of Shemot, in a series of finely etched vignettes, paints a portrait of the life of Moses, culminating in the moment at which God appears ...


Altruism and Religion

Altruism and Religion

by

Religion is the best antidote to the individualism of the consumer age.


Generations Forget and Remember

Generations Forget and Remember

by

Lessons of assimilation, acculturation, and exile.


Choice and Change

Choice and Change

by

The sequence from Bereishit 37 to 50 is the longest unbroken narrative in the Torah, and there can be no doubt who its hero is: Joseph. The story ...


Disguise

Disguise

by

Joseph is now the ruler of Egypt. The famine he predicted has come to pass. It extends beyond Egypt to the land of Canaan. Seeking to buy food, ...


The Refusal to be Comforted

The Refusal to be Comforted

by

The deception has taken place. Joseph has been sold into slavery. His brothers have dipped his coat in blood. They bring it back to their father, ...


Fear or Distress?

Fear or Distress?

by

Jacob and Esau are about to meet again after a separation of twenty two years. It is a fraught encounter. Once, Esau had sworn to kill Jacob in ...


Encountering God

Encountering God

by

A unique approach to prayer by the biblical Jacob.


Between Prophecy and Oracle

Between Prophecy and Oracle

by

Rebecca, hitherto infertile, became pregnant. Suffering acute pain, "she went to inquire of the Lord" [vatelekh lidrosh et Hashem] ...


Hopes and Fears

Hopes and Fears

by

The Torah portion of Chayei Sarah focuses on two episodes, both narrated at length and in intricate detail. Abraham buys a field with a cave as a ...


Even Higher Than Angels

Even Higher Than Angels

by

It is one of the most famous scenes in the Bible. Abraham is sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day when three strangers pass ...


Making Space

Making Space

by

The call to Abraham, with which Lech Lecha begins, seems to come from nowhere: "Leave your land, your birthplace, and your father's house, ...


True Grit

True Grit

by

The secret of success is how we view failure.


True Morality

True Morality

by

Is there such a thing as an objective basis of morality? For some time, in secular circles, the idea has seemed absurd. Morality is what we choose ...


A Living Book

A Living Book

by

It is the most famous, majestic and influential opening of any book in literature: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the ...


Moses the Man

Moses the Man

by

That very day the Lord spoke to Moses, "Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho, and view ...


The Heart, the Home, the Text

The Heart, the Home, the Text

by

By now Moses had given 612 commands to the Israelites. But there was one further instruction he still had to give, the last of his life, the final ...


Why Be Jewish?

Why Be Jewish?

by

In the last days of his life Moses renews the covenant between God and Israel. The entire book of Devarim has been an account of the covenant - how ...


Listening and Law

Listening and Law

by

It would be reasonable to assume that a language that contains the verb "to command" must also contain the verb "to obey." The ...


Letting Go of Hate

Letting Go of Hate

by

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence ...


Greatness Is Humility

Greatness Is Humility

by

There is a fascinating detail in the passage about the king in this week's parsha. The text says that "When he takes the throne of his kingdom, ...


The Politics of Freedom

The Politics of Freedom

by

Having set out the broad principles of the covenant, Moses now turns to the details, which extend over many chapters and several parshiyot. The long ...


The Morality of Love

The Morality of Love

by

Something implicit in the Torah from the very beginning becomes explicit in the book of Devarim. God is the God of love. More than we love Him, He ...


Why Is the Jewish People So Small?

Why Is the Jewish People So Small?

by

Near the end of Va-etchanan, so inconspicuously that we can sometimes miss it, is a statement with such far reaching implications that it challenges ...


Profits and Prophets

Profits and Prophets

by

There are few more blazing passages in the whole of religious literature than the first chapter of the book of Isaiah, the great "vision," ...


The Prophetic Voice

The Prophetic Voice

by

During the three weeks between 17 Tammuz and Tisha b'Av, as we recall the destruction of the Temples, we read three of the most searing passages in ...


The Zealot

The Zealot

by

With Pinhas a new type enters the world of Israel: the zealot. "Pinhas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned My anger away from ...


Not Reckoned Among the Nations

Not Reckoned Among the Nations

by

The year is 1933. Two Jews are sitting in a Viennese coffee house, reading the news. One is reading the local Jewish paper, the other the ...


Losing Miriam

Losing Miriam

by

It is a scene that still has the power to shock and disturb. The people complain. There is no water. It is an old complaint and a predictable one. ...


Seven Principles of Jewish Leadership

Seven Principles of Jewish Leadership

by

We are free. We are responsible. And together we can change the world.


The Leader as Servant

The Leader as Servant

by

Korach had a point. "You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set ...


The Fear of Freedom

The Fear of Freedom

by

The episode of the spies has rightly puzzled commentators throughout the centuries. How could they have got it so wrong? The land, they said, was as ...


Is a Leader a Nursing Father?

Is a Leader a Nursing Father?

by

It was the emotional low of Moses' life. After the drama at Sinai, the revelation, the golden calf, the forgiveness, the building of the Tabernacle ...


Sages and Saints

Sages and Saints

by

As mentioned in a previous Covenant and Conversation, there was an ongoing debate between the sages as to whether the nazirite - whose laws are ...


The Ever-Repeated Story

The Ever-Repeated Story

by

The Jewish people’s unfolding destiny, in 5 acts.


The Limits of the Free Market

The Limits of the Free Market

by

As I was writing this essay a newspaper headline caught my eye. It read, "The UK's richest people have defied the double-dip recession to ...


Eternity and Mortality

Eternity and Mortality

by

Our parsha begins with a restriction on the people for whom a Kohen may become tamei, a word usually translated as "defiled, impure, ...


The Scapegoat

The Scapegoat

by

The strangest element of the service on Yom Kippur, set out in Leviticus 16:7-22, was the ritual of the two goats - one offered as a sacrifice, the ...


Holiness and Childbirth

Holiness and Childbirth

by

The sidrot of Tazria and Metzorah contain laws which are among the most difficult to understand. They are about conditions of "impurity" ...


Teach Your Children Well

Teach Your Children Well

by

The world we build tomorrow is born in the stories we tell our children today.


The Thanksgiving Offering

The Thanksgiving Offering

by

Among the sacrifices detailed in this week's sedra is the korban todah, the thanksgiving offering: "If he offers it [the sacrifice] as a ...


Sign up today!