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Friday, April 20, 2018

Divrei Torah

IDF Inquiry: Who Leaked Information to Bennett?

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has instructed IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, to initiate an inquiry against a senior reservist officer who is suspected of leaking unauthorized information to Minister Naftali Bennett during Operation Protective Edge.

The senior officer has already been dismissed from his position because of passing on the information,

Lessons of Equality

For the past several weeks, certain ideas have dominated my consciousness. Don’t worry, these are not obsessive thoughts, and I am not a candidate for a psychiatric diagnosis. Rather, whenever I prepare a speech lately, or sit down to write a column such as this, I can’t help but think about a particular set of political principles.

The principles I ponder

The Good Old Days

It was the kind of thing you would hear from old men. “Things just ain’t the way they used to be.” “This new generation is going to hell in a handbasket.” “I remember when things were different and better, back in the good old days!”

Now that I am becoming a bit older myself, I find that I sometimes parrot some of those phrases. Increasingly, my

Aleinu: Obligation to Fix the World or the Text?

The Jewish obligation of tikkun olam is widely referred to and it is traditionally assumed that the Aleinu prayer is one of the texts upon which this obligation is based. This article will show that a very strong case can be made that the original version of Aleinu read Letakein Olam with a caf (=to establish the

The Duty of Civilians in War

It seems that war is one of the most common of all human activities. Study history of the human race, and you will not find many years that were not blemished by warfare. Read the literature of the world, and you will find very few books whose pages are not bloodstained. Study the Jewish tradition, beginning with the Bible itself, and you will find very few narratives

The Participant Observer

I have had a long and abiding interest in the process by which we make decisions in our lives. Long ago, I was taught that the best way to make a decision is to impartially examine all of the relevant available facts. Impartiality guarantees objectivity. Sadly, however, we are seldom truly impartial and, therefore, our ability to make

What’s Missing In This Picture?

The old and crum­bling building housed a synagogue that was a “gift” from Joseph Sta­lin to the Jews of Odes­sa. Historically, Odessa was a metropolis with a large Jewish population and many dozens of synagogues of all types. With the advent of the Communist regime, and especially under Sta­lin’s heavy-fisted rule, almost all of those syna­gogues were closed

“Discipline and Suffering”

As a parent, grand­parent, and psychologist, I am often considered to be something of an ex­pert on parenting and child-rearing. In that capacity, I have frequently been asked to review or give an opinion about any of the plethora of books on the subject of raising one’s children.

Like in any genre, there are better books and worse books in this category.

Va’etchanan: Thou Shalt Not Alter the Recipe

The meal had been going wonderfully. The meat roll (pastrami and smoked turkey) and salmon gefilte fish had been delicious. The chu­lent was just so, not too runny, not too dry. The portabella mushroom chicken was perfection itself. Even the potato kugel tasted better than usual. But then Elisheva was an excellent cook, so none of this came as a big surprise. The

“Religion is Good for You”

“Religion is good for you.” “A religious person is a mentally healthy person.” Statements such as these could not have been made when I was a graduate stu­dent in psychology back in the 1960s. Quite the contrary. The prevalent belief in the mental health profession then was that reli­gion was a neurosis, and that religious peo­ple needed to abandon their

Devarim: The Final Oration

Scene: The Parsi­panny Hilton Grand Ballroom. A hall filled with red, white, and blue balloons and streamers, with ap­proximately 200 people standing around, looking a bit dejected. A man in a pin-striped suit with perfectly coiffed, grey hair approaches the podium. (Loud applause.)

“Thank you. Thank you. I just got off the phone with Joshua Franklin and

The Jewish Obsession: Parshat Devarim/Shabbat Chazon

The popular media often accuses the Jewish people of an obsession. Some accuse us good-humoredly of an obses­sion with food. Others maliciously accuse us of being obsessed with money. I agree that there is a Jewish obsession. I maintain that it is justice with which we are obsessed.

I define an obsession as an idea that dom­inates our thinking even when there