Keeping the Light Burning: A Middle Path to Well-Being During Trying Times

Times are challenging; the vision of a shared society seems harder for many to maintain in our era, whether we are discussing life within Israel’s “Green Line,” the recent decision about frozen embryos issued by Alabama’s Supreme Court, refugee policy in Europe, or China’s surveillance state and restricted human rights. It is difficult to ascertain whether things are worse today than in previous eras; it seems clear, however, that a great many people feel things are worse, and this impacts their capacity to work toward the better world we all wish would arrive sooner than it ever does. Many people are throwing their hands up.

Three Gifts

When is a material gift spiritual, and when is a spiritual gift material? I have a vivid recollection of a November sun casting its cold rays onto the front porch of my childhood home as I unwrapped the large cardboard carton that contained an unassembled Big Wheel. The Big Wheel came to market in the 1970s; it was basically what happened when a tricycle died, went to heaven, and came back reincarnated as the coolest set of wheels any five-year-old could dream of owning.

Fight Club and the Ten Commandments

In 1996, a novel was published that touched the country’s nerve. It was brought to the big screen three years later, and despite initially tepid box office earnings, was destined to become a peculiar cult classic. That movie was Fight Club, starring Ed Norton and Brad Pitt. It is a dark, morbid study of the hollowness of consumer culture and white-collar corporate jobs while highlighting the loss of meaningful human connection.

Breathing in the Ten Commandments

The Shabbat on which we read Parshat Yitro always feels particularly momentous since we recite the Aseret HaDibrot, or the Ten Commandments on this day. Indeed, tomorrow I will be speaking about the important role that the Ten Commandments and Torah as a whole have had on the Jewish people. Given that focus, it seemed appropriate to take a somewhat different direction for this Oasis Song. While Jewish law has an enormous scope, it rarely is about dry statutes; instead, it has long been a repository of Jewish history, moral dilemmas, and ethical sensitivities.

The Mountains of Darkness: Ecological Reflections for Tu Bishvat

In the southeast corner of Oregon, there is a sparsely inhabited swath of land known as the Outback. It is a place every Oregonian should visit at least once, for as the sun drops below the horizon, the night sky there becomes one of the darkest places left on the planet. Staring up there when the moon is small is to gasp in wonder at a vision of the stars most modern people no longer have access to.

Words Matter: Israel, South Africa, and the International Court of Justice

As many are aware, South Africa brought charges of genocide against the State of Israel in one of the legal bodies of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice. Arguments were heard, beginning yesterday. Because of time constraints, I want to make two quick points at this time: if this is a topic in which people have interest, it would be possible to explore this legal case more deeply and to explain more thoroughly my own evolving thinking on this historic and pernicious case, while also providing more sources for those who want to continue their own investigation. If this is a topic on which you would like to hear more, please reach out.

Perspectives on Leadership, Accountability, and Plagiarism

This week, much of the Jewish and general social media universe have quickly written about the meaning of Claudine Gay’s resignation as the president of Harvard University. There are people who view this as a victory in the war against antisemitism on college campuses, while others think this is a terrible result for Jews as it will be used by our enemies to exaggerate the strength and reach of Jewish power.