About the Author

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt”l was an international religious leader, philosopher, and respected moral voice. The author of over 35 books, he received multiple awards in recognition of his work including the 2016 Templeton Prize. He was the recipient of 18 honorary doctorates, and was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 2005 and made a Life Peer, taking his seat in the House of Lords in October 2009. Rabbi Sacks zt”l served as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013. Rabbi Sacks zt”l was born on the 8th March 1948 and passed away on the 7th November 2020 (Shabbat Kodesh 20th MarCheshvan 5781).

These weekly teachings from Rabbi Sacks zt”l are part of the ‘Covenant & Conversation’ series on the weekly Torah reading. Read more essays from the series on www.rabbisacks.org.

Also available: The FAMILY EDITION of Covenant & Conversation, designed to enhance your parsha conversation with everyone from teenagers to great-great-grandparents. To read and print this family-friendly learning resource, for an inter-generational discussion around your Shabbat table on Rabbi Sacks’ ideas for the week, please click here.

Making Space

The call to Abraham, with which Lech Lecha begins, seems to come from nowhere: "Leave your...

True Grit

The secret of success is how we view failure.

True Morality

Is there such a thing as an objective basis of morality? For some time, in secular circles, the...

A Living Book

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

Moses the Man

Moses exemplifies how a human being, without ever ceasing to be human, can become a giant of the moral life.

The Heart, the Home, the Text

By now Moses had given 612 commands to the Israelites. But there was one further instruction he...

Why Be Jewish?

We are all part of the ever-folding Jewish story.

Listening and Law

It would be reasonable to assume that a language that contains the verb "to command"...

Letting Go of Hate

To be free, you have to let go of hate.

Greatness Is Humility

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

The Politics of Freedom

Having set out the broad principles of the covenant, Moses now turns to the details, which extend...

The Morality of Love

Something implicit in the Torah from the very beginning becomes explicit in the book of Devarim....

Profits and Prophets

There are few more blazing passages in the whole of religious literature than the first chapter of...

The Prophetic Voice

During the three weeks between 17 Tammuz and Tisha b'Av, as we recall the destruction of the...

The Zealot

With Pinhas a new type enters the world of Israel: the zealot. "Pinhas son of Eleazar, son of...

Seven Principles of Jewish Leadership

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

The Leader as Servant

Korach had a point. "You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them,...

Is a Leader a Nursing Father?

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

Sages and Saints

As mentioned in a previous Covenant and Conversation, there was an ongoing debate between the...

The Ever-Repeated Story

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

The Limits of the Free Market

As I was writing this essay a newspaper headline caught my eye. It read, "The UK's richest...

Eternity and Mortality

Our parsha begins with a restriction on the people for whom a Kohen may become tamei, a word...

The Scapegoat

The strangest element of the service on Yom Kippur, set out in Leviticus 16:7-22, was the ritual...

Holiness and Childbirth

The sidrot of Tazria and Metzorah contain laws which are among the most difficult to understand....

Teach Your Children Well

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

The Thanksgiving Offering

Among the sacrifices detailed in this week's sedra is the korban todah, the thanksgiving...

Self and Sacrifice

The laws of sacrifices that dominate the early chapters of the book of Vayikra / Leviticus, are...

Mirrors of Love

Love as a means to reach the Divine.

The Birth of a New Freedom

Witnessing the birth of a new idea is a little like watching the birth of a galaxy through the...

The Aesthetic in Judaism

Why is the Torah so specific and emphatic, in this week's parsha, about the clothes to be worn by...

The Architecture of Holiness

Law, structure and precision are essential to attaining holiness.

The Custom That Refused To Die

There's an enthralling story about the Ten Commandments and the role they played in Jewish worship...

Music, Language of the Soul

Music and the power of transcendence.

The Necessity of Asking Questions

Judaism believes it’s a religious duty to teach our children to ask questions.

Freedom and Truth

Why did Moses tell Pharaoh, if not a lie, then less than the full truth? Here is the conversation...

Who Am I?

Identifying with the Jewish People.

The Last Tears

At almost every stage of fraught encounter between Joseph and his family in Egypt, Joseph weeps....

The Day Forgiveness Was Born

Humanity changed the day Joseph forgave his brothers.

The Author of Our Lives

We are free, and God is also intimately involved in our lives.

What is the Theme of Stories of Genesis?

One of the most fundamental questions about the Torah turns out to be one of the hardest to answer...

The Jewish Journey

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

The Tragedy of Good Intentions

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

E.g.: The Power of Example

So familiar are we with the story of Abraham that we do not always stop to think about what a...

Walking Together

There is one image that haunts us across the millennia, fraught with emotion. It is the image of a...

How to Reverse the West's Decline

The greatest civilizations eventually fall due to their own internal decay.

The Future of European Jewry

Those who deny Jews or Israel their freedom will lose, or fail to gain, their own.

Christianity's Rise in China

China realizes what the West is rapidly forgetting: a civilization is as strong as its faith.

British Academic Freedom?

The anti-Israel campaign raises the question: Does academic freedom exist on campus?

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