Posted on January 21st, 2019

Exodus 18:1–20:23 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 

The Bond of Loyalty and Love

In the course of any life there are moments of awe and amazement when, with a full heart, you thank God shehecheyanu vekiyemanu vehigiyanu lazeman hazeh, “who has kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this day.”

Two that particularly stand out in my own memory were separated by almost ten years. The first was the Lambeth Conference at Canterbury in 2008. The conference is the gathering, every ten years, of the bishops of the Anglican Communion – that is, not just the Church of England but the entire worldwide structure, much of it based in America and Africa. It is the key event that brings this global network of churches together to deliberate on directions for the future. That year I became, I believe, the first rabbi to address a plenary session of the conference. The second, much more recent, took place in October 2017 in Washington when I addressed the friends and supporters of the American Enterprise Institute, one of the world’s great economic think tanks.

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Shabbat Shira - Beshalach

Posted on January 14th, 2019

Exodus 13:17-17:16 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 

The Longer, Shorter Road

At the end of his new book, Tribe of Mentors, Timothy Ferris cites the following poem by Portia Nelson. It’s called ‘Autobiography in Five Short Chapters’:

Chapter 1: I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost… I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in this same place. But it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

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Posted on January 7th, 2019

Exodus 10:1−13:16 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 

The Story We Tell

It remains one of the most counterintuitive passages in all of religious literature. Moses is addressing the Israelites just days before their release. They have been exiles for 210 years. After an initial period of affluence and ease, they have been oppressed, enslaved, and their male children killed in an act of slow genocide. Now, after signs and wonders and a series of plagues that have brought the greatest empire of the ancient world to its knees, they are about to go free.

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Posted on December 31st, 2018

Exodus 6:2-9:35 

By Shlomo Katz for Torah.org

Why Don’t They Listen?

Hashem tells Moshe in this week’s Parashah (7:3), “I shall harden Pharaoh’s heart.” The Midrash Shmot Rabbah comments: Rabbi Yochanan said, “On this basis, heretics can argue that Pharaoh had no ability to repent, as it is [further] written (10:1), ‘I have made his heart stubborn.’ Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said to Rabbi Yochanan, “Let the heretics be silenced. We read (Mishlei 3:34), ‘If [one is drawn] to scoffers, he will scoff,’ [i.e., Hashem allows a person to go in the way he chooses]. This teaches that Hashem warns a person once, twice and three times. If he does not repent, Hashem seals the person’s heart so that he will not repent and instead will be punished for his sins.” [Until here from the Midrash]

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Posted on December 24th, 2018

Exodus 1:1−6:1 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 

God Loves Those Who Argue 

I have become increasingly concerned about the assault on free speech taking place throughout the West, particularly in university campuses.[1] This is being done in the name of “safe space,” that is, space in which you are protected against hearing views which might cause you distress, “trigger warnings”[2] and “micro-aggressions,” that is, any remark that someone might find offensive even if no offence is meant.

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