Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
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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.

Making Space

Making Space

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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

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The secret of success is how we view failure.


True Morality

True Morality

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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You are part of a continuing story. How will you write your chapter?


Listening and Law

Listening and Law

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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

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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

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The real honor is not the honor we receive but the honor we give.


The Politics of Freedom

The Politics of Freedom

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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


The Leader as Servant

The Leader as Servant

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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


The Limits of the Free Market

The Limits of the Free Market

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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

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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

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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

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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

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


The Thanksgiving Offering

The Thanksgiving Offering

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


Self and Sacrifice

Self and Sacrifice

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The laws of sacrifices that dominate the early chapters of the book of Vayikra / Leviticus, are among the hardest in the Torah to relate to - for it ...


Mirrors of Love

Mirrors of Love

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Love as a means to reach the Divine.


The Birth of a New Freedom

The Birth of a New Freedom

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Witnessing the birth of a new idea is a little like watching the birth of a galaxy through the Hubble Space Telescope. We can witness just such an ...


The Aesthetic in Judaism

The Aesthetic in Judaism

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Why is the Torah so specific and emphatic, in this week's parsha, about the clothes to be worn by the Kohen and the Kohen Gadol? "These are the ...


The Architecture of Holiness

The Architecture of Holiness

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Why precision matters in spirituality.


The Custom That Refused To Die

The Custom That Refused To Die

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There's an enthralling story about the Ten Commandments and the role they played in Jewish worship and the synagogue. It begins with a little-known ...


Music, Language of the Soul

Music, Language of the Soul

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For the first time since their departure from Egypt the Israelites do something together. They sing. "Then sang Moses and the children of ...


The Necessity of Asking Questions

The Necessity of Asking Questions

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Intelligence is God's greatest gift to humanity.


Freedom and Truth

Freedom and Truth

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Why did Moses tell Pharaoh, if not a lie, then less than the full truth? Here is the conversation between him and Pharaoh after the fourth plague, ...


Who Am I?

Who Am I?

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Identifying with the Jewish People.


The Last Tears

The Last Tears

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At almost every stage of fraught encounter between Joseph and his family in Egypt, Joseph weeps. There are seven scenes of tears: 1. When the ...


The Day Forgiveness Was Born

The Day Forgiveness Was Born

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Humanity changed the day Joseph forgave his brothers.


The Author of Our Lives

The Author of Our Lives

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Attributing success to God.


What is the Theme of Stories of Genesis?

What is the Theme of Stories of Genesis?

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One of the most fundamental questions about the Torah turns out to be one of the hardest to answer. What, from the call of God to Abraham in Genesis ...


The Jewish Journey

The Jewish Journey

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To be a Jew means not to be fully at home in the world.


The Birth of the World's Oldest Hate

The Birth of the World's Oldest Hate

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The roots of anti-Semitism.


The Tragedy of Good Intentions

The Tragedy of Good Intentions

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Why did Rebecca tell Jacob to acquire the blessing through deceipt?


E.g.: The Power of Example

E.g.: The Power of Example

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So familiar are we with the story of Abraham that we do not always stop to think about what a strange turn it is in the biblical narrative. If we ...


Individual and Collective Responsibility

Individual and Collective Responsibility

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I once had the opportunity to ask the Catholic writer Paul Johnson what had struck him most about Judaism during the long period he spent ...


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