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.

The Torah as God's Song

At the end of his life, having given the Israelites at God's behest 612 commands, Moses gave them...

Not Beyond the Sea

You don't need to climb a mountain or enter an ashram to find the Divine Presence. The beauty of Jewish spirituality is God is near.

How Rosh Hashanah Can Transform Our Lives

10 essential insights that go to the heart of Judaism.

Animal Welfare

Animals do not have rights, but we have duties towards them.

The Ecological Imperative

We are not the owners of nature but its custodians.

Collective Joy

It is easy to speak to God in tears. It is hard to serve God in joy.

The Politics of Memory

The real test of a nation is not if it can survive a crisis but if it can survive the lack of a crisis.

Why Is the Jewish People So Small?

Nations are not judged by their size but by their contribution to the human heritage.

The Teacher as Hero

Imagine the following scenario. You are 119 years and 11 months old. The end of your life is in...

Deuteronomy: The World of Covenant

The unique covenant on display in the Book of Deuteronomy.

The Religious Significance of Israel

Only in Israel can the Jewish people construct a political system, an economy, and an environment on the template of Jewish values.


The Israelites were almost within sight of the Promised Land. They had successfully waged their...

The Crown All Can Wear

Moses said to the Lord, "May the Lord, God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over...

Not Reckoned Among the Nations

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

Losing Miriam

It is a scene that still has the power to shock and disturb. The people complain. There is no...

Argument for the Sake of Heaven

The Korach rebellion was not just the worst of the revolts from the wilderness years. It was also...

Fear of Freedom

The episode of the spies was one of the most tragic in the entire Torah. Who sent them and to what...

Camp and Congregation

The parsha of Beha'alotecha speaks about the silver trumpets - clarions - Moses was commanded to...

Seasons of Love: A Shavuot Message

At the heart of faith is loyalty, love and kindness.

Leading a Nation of Individuals

Bamidbar begins with a census of the Israelites. That is why this book is known in English as...

The Birth of Hope

It is not too much to say that Jews kept hope alive, and hope kept the Jewish people alive.

Evolution or Revolution?

There are, it is sometimes said, no controlled experiments in history. Every society, every age,...

Three Versions of Shabbat

Corresponding to three ways one encounters God.

The Connection between Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism

Anti-Zionism is the latest mutations of the world’s longest hate.

Thinking Fast and Slow

For the Torah Portion in Israel, click here: https://www.aish.com/tp/i/sacks/509182821.html If we...

From Priest to People

Something fundamental happens at the beginning of this parsha and the story is one of the greatest...

The Power of Speech

Language, in Judaism, is the basis of creation, revelation, and the moral life.

The Sacrifices of Childbirth

At the start of this parsha is a cluster of laws that challenged and puzzled the commentators....

Between Hope and Humanity

It should have been the great day of celebration. The Tabernacle, Israel's first collective house...

Destructive and Self-Destructive

This sedra, speaking about sacrifices, prohibits the eating of blood: Wherever you live, you...

On Jewish Character

Pekudei has sometimes been called the accountant's parsha, because that is how it begins, with the...

A Stiff-Necked People

It is a moment of the very highest drama. The Israelites, a mere forty days after the greatest...

Brothers: A Drama In Five Acts

At last, brothers learn to live together in unity.

A Portable Home

The Divine Presence lives not in a building but in its builders; not in a physical place but in the human heart.

Loving the Stranger

God made us into the world's archetypal strangers so that we would fight for the rights of strangers.

Mount Sinai and the Birth of Freedom

At Sinai, the politics of freedom was born.

The Divided Sea: Natural or Supernatural?

The splitting of the Reed Sea is engraved in Jewish memory. We recite it daily during the morning...

Against Their Gods

The ninth plague - darkness - comes shrouded in a darkness of its own. What is this plague doing...

The God Who Acts In History

The Israelites were at their lowest ebb. They had been enslaved. A decree had been issued that...

The Light at the Heart of Darkness

Tyranny cannot destroy humanity. Moral courage can sometimes be found in the heart of darkness.

The Future of the Past

The scene that brings the book of Genesis to a close is intensely significant. Joseph's brothers...

Jewish Strength is Not in Their Numbers

Don’t count Jews; count their vast contributions.

Does My Father Love Me?

It is one of the great questions we naturally ask each time we read the story of Joseph. Why did...

The Universal and the Particular

The story of Joseph is one of those rare narratives in Tenach in which a Jew (Israelite/Hebrew)...

Refusing Comfort, Keeping Hope

The deception has taken place. Joseph has been sold into slavery. His brothers dipped his coat in...

Physical Fear, Moral Distress

Twenty-two years have passed since Jacob fled his brother, penniless and alone; twenty-two years...

When the "I" is Silent

In the silence of the "I," we meet the "Thou" of God.

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