Vayishlach 5778 Not only feminists, but all morally conscious people are outraged by media reports of harassment and abuse by high profile men in positions of power. After decades of increasingly liberal attitudes to sex and sexuality, and coarsely using femininity as a marketing tool, the conversation needs an intellectual framework. What are appropriate responses by society and by women who find themselves in these situations? Should the men concerned be granted any opportunity for remorse and restitution, or have they terminated their reputation and careers forever? Sh..
It was after midnight on Tuesday night. Los Angeles International Airport, usually bustling with frenetic crowds was quieting down. The day had been a very long one. I summoned an Uber driver hoping for a silent ride. Instead I was connected to a most unusual, African American driver. He was kind, and had a sensitive demeanor and delicate voice. Our fascinating conversation started at the airport and did not end until after he stopped outside my home. My driver explained to me how sensitive he is to the energy of his passengers. For example, he avoids taking people to wor..
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese mindfulness master living in in France, talks ofa practice called noble silence.  “If we are talking, we are talking,” he writes. “But if we are doing something else….such as eating…then we do just these things. We aren’t doing these things and also talking. We do these things in joyful, noble silence….free to hear the deepest call of our hearts.” What might the Torah have to say about this practice? Imagine a silent Kiddush after Shabbat services! I can’t. The day after reading about..
Discover the wisdom within Parshat Lech Lecha, 5778 The powerful imperative, “Travel into yourself!” is the title of the Parsha and its opening phrase. Lech-Lecha is literally translated as “go for yourself” meaning, go for your own benefit. The Zohar translates it as “Travel into yourself,” a deeper, more specific and more complex version of “Know thyself” (γνῶθι σεαυτόν), the Delphic maxim attributed to Socrates. Travel into yourself is not license for self-absorption. Lech-l..
Noach, 5778 Left-wing “liberalism” fights for the acceptance of cultural and gender diversity with an intolerant hatred for ideological diversity. It battles Faith and Israel with the same ferocity that the people of Babel battled the principles of moral monotheism. I have thought about the recent hurricanes, earthquakes and Californian fire catastrophes while they were happening and after. But it was thoughts I had, even sympathy, but not deep enough feelings of caring and empathy. I have felt disappointed in myself for that. Distance should not reduce my capa..
Shabbat Bereishit, 5778 From Sukot to Bereishit Shabbat Bereishit  is a moving moment in the calendar. The story of the Creation arouses primal feelings and mystical thoughts. The story is about miracle, Garden of Eden, talking snakes and fiery angels. Yet it is also about the rational science, nature and psychology. Science and miracle; an oxymoron? No, I shall argue, a polarity that requires the embracing of both especially when striving to live a spiritual life in modern times. This year Shabbat Bereishit is somewhat eclipsed by the long weekend of Shemini Atzeret and ..
America can be proud of so many of her ordinary people; people like the ones who risked their lives and gave their time and resources to help victims of the Las Vegas massacre, Harvey and Irma. But there is also a dark side to our society. Suppressed anger and violence lurks beneath the thin veneer of much of American courtesy. This comment is not based on research (although there may well be research to support it). It is based only on my own observations of people’s behaviors both as individuals and in large angry masses, widely reported acts of violence by the public and ..
Missed Opportunity I confess; I am a serial procrastinator. When faced with a deadline, I will happily do anything else before attending to the matter at hand. It is amazing how, when facing an urgent time line, I suddenly become aware of countless other things that need my attention; things that when I had the time, escaped my attention entirely. So, as I open the first chapter in the Shulchan Aruch (the four-section 16th century code of Jewish law and practice), I am shocked by the first paragraph in the section dealing with the Yomtov (holyday) of Sukot: “It is a mitzvah to p..