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..
Asseret Yemei Teshuva 5778 Hashem does speak to us. He speaks to us in numerous ways at various times; sometimes quite directly and personally, at times less so. He is not limited in how often he communicates; it is we who are limited in how well we listen and how often we hear. As we grow older, gain experience and become humbler, our hearing improves – at least our hearing of G-ds messages improves provided we practice the art of listening out for them. Hashem speaks though coincidence, He speaks through suffering – Hashem rebukes those he cares about (Mishlei 3:12). S..
Secular liberal Jews have hijacked the term tikun olam (repairing the world) to promote agendas of secular social justice and environmentalism. Irrespective of the worthiness of these agendas, this is not the meaning nor the intention of the term tikun olam. The term comes from the Aleinu prayer which we recite three times a day, and is a central theme of Rosh Hashanah: לתקן עולם במלכודת שדי means to repair the world by its accepting the supremacy of Hashem’s Governance, a very different idea. As I experience the hours before Rosh Hashanah in Jerusalem, breathing in the palpable atmosphere..
Almost exactly 24 years ago, a friend was driving my father z”l to the Los Angeles airport as he used to do regularly at the end of my father’s weekly trips. This was to be their last ride together. My father suffered a sudden heart attack only a day later and passed away. This ride was significant in other ways. My father made a comment in the car that was unusual for him and quite out of context. He told my friend that we would lose Israel for a very brief time before Mashiach came. I couldn’t understand or even relate to this comment at the time. Although 1991 was a turbulent year in the..
28 Iyar 5775 Rabbi David Lapin The world’s growing intolerance for a Jewish State – like anti-Semitism – is an emotional issue, not a rational one. Emotion cannot be countered with reason. Emotion can only be countered with emotion. I left Israel for the UK on June 4th, 1967, a day before the outbreak of the Six-Day War. Barely seventeen, I arrived there a few weeks earlier to start my Yeshiva career in Kefar Hassidim, a small agricultural village eight miles south-east of Haifa and less than 40 miles from the Syrian border. I recall speaking to a command..
Our times are dark not only for the Jewish people but for all of civilization as we know it. Light will prevail, but we shouldn’t rely on miracles. מתן אדם ירחיב לו (משלי יח) The generosity of an individual provides him with expansiveness (Proverbs 18). Vayikra 5775 © Rabbi David Lapin, 2015 What the Midrash Means Series - 1:16 ____________________________ Our times are troubled. They call for innovative strategies to combat dark forces and villainous activity. But our times also call for a different response, one that has served us well for millennia. The Midrash below (Vay..
Will is the initiator and the energy that underpins a choice and powers its conversion to action. Terumah 5775 © Rabbi David Lapin, 2015 What the Midrash Means Series - 1:15 _________________________________ Power is the way we experience energy. When electricity provides us with power, we experience its energy. We experience the energy of others when we feel the power of their personalities. When we experience G-d’s power in our lives, we feel His energy. The most potent energy we can experience is when we feel the power of another’s will. Simply, the term willpower, connotes ..