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Man Should Not Be Alone

There is a reason why the most tried-and-true punishment in prison is solitary confinement; we desperately crave conversation and connection. Mankind does not manage loneliness well. When we are alone, we tend to spin out of balance, becoming odder and odder as time passes. In time, depression becomes mental imbalance which in turns morphs into […]

Being Vulnerable: Gratitude

The word “Jew” comes from the name given to the patriarch Judah: “[Leah] conceived again and bore a son, and declared, ‘This time I will thank the LORD.’ Therefore, she named him Judah.” (Gen. 29:35) So an entire people is named after this one verb: to thank. Saying “thank you” is a definitional part of Judaism. Indeed, […]

Pour Out the Blood: Equal and Opposite

Humans are the change agents on our planet.  In this, eco-liberals and religious Jews can agree – we both see the natural world as essentially cyclically static, a system that, from a scientific perspective, is in a kind of autopilot. Since the days of open miracles are behind us, the only things in this world […]

Blundering Toward a Positive Relationship

Most good parents realize that children mis-behave, at least in part, because they crave attention. Negative attention is still attention, and if parents fail to provide attention to the kids who are well-behaved (but still react to naughty behavior), then they are training their children to act out in less productive ways. This pattern is […]

I’ll Eat the Fruit Again, Thank You

One of the things that makes mankind special is that we can – and do – take in data, make sense of it, assign it to categories in order to make it useful, and act accordingly. These categories, whether they are of the more scientific “mammal or not mammal?” variety or the softer stereotypes of, […]

G-d’s (brief) Engagement to the Jewish People

It is very odd that the Torah takes time to tell us all about G-d’s plans for enriching the Jews with Egyptian gold. G-d first tells Moshe, in their first conversation at the burning bush, that When you go, you shall not go empty.  Every woman shall borrow from her neighbor, and from her who […]

What Did Cain Do Wrong?

Many have speculated on Hashem’s reasons for accepting Abel’s offerings and rejecting Cain’s: using the text alone, Hashem’s rejection of Cain’s offering almost seems arbitrary. The differences in the text or the Torah are minimal: we know only that Cain brought from his fruits, and Abel brought firstlings from his flock. What if the answer […]

Cargo Cult Primitives

(this was written in 2018, long before Covid became its single best example) One of the best Ricochet posts of all time was @DanHanson’s post on Cargo Cult Science. Among its other virtues, the article (which if you have not read, you really,, really should) was amazing because it helped us see how, even within […]

The Meaning of Chometz

Why does it matter whether or not we have leavening (chometz) in our lives on Pesach? And how on earth did such a seemingly random thing end up being a defining characteristic of the Jewish people?! Just think about it: In Israel, even the most secular, non-observant Jews have a Seder. A recent poll put […]

Giving Destroys the Soul

The joke is told of a man who is drowning 50 yards off shore. There are countless variations on this joke, but the simplest political version I know is that the Democrat throws the man 200 yards of line, then drops his own end. And the Republican throws 40 yards of line, because even a […]

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