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Connecting Body and Soul

We have long understood that people contain an essential dualism, referred to sometimes as “heart and mind,” or “mind and matter,” or “body and soul.” Most famously, Adam is created from two opposing ingredients: dust from the earth, and living soul blown in through his nostrils. Though I only really am sure of the Torah […]

Filling the World

My study partners and I were curious about why, when Tamar is pregnant with twins, the verse starts with, “when her time came to give birth,” but when Rivkah is pregnant with Esau and Jacob, the text is different: “when her days were full to give birth.” They are parallel cases, but for some reason […]

Maximizing our Blessings

It is clear to me that G-d does not answer all prayer. But it is also clear to me that G-d surely is involved in the lives of those who bring Him into our world; I feel G-d’s kisses on a daily basis, and I know many others who do as well. Last night we […]

The Key Elements of Successful Prayer

The Key Elements of Successful Prayer We often think of great characters in the Torah as being the forefathers, or perhaps Moses. But if we do that, we overlook someone who did something that nobody else in the Torah ever managed: he prayed for an extremely specific set of events, which began to emerge even […]

Can We Institutionalize Kindness?

Remember orphanages? Orphanages used to be good places. Places that created a home for the homeless, structure for the parentless, love for the abandoned and lost. Alexander Hamilton was an orphan. His widow, Eliza, was rightly praised for founding the Orphan Asylum Society, the city’s first private orphanage, a home for hundreds of children. And […]

The Symbolic Importance of Blood in the Torah

Nobody ever wrote a hot and dark romance novel centered around our forbidden lust for used fingernails. Or mucus. Now, blood… that is entirely different. Blood is one of the most potent symbols the world has – and not just for vampires. Primitives and pagans drink the blood of animals whose spirits they want to […]

The Importance of Dreaming Big

It is statistically quite likely that a person on Planet Earth will be born, live, and die, without making much difference to the world around them. Indeed, to many people this almost seems to be the plan: they want to find the easiest or smoothest path from here to the grave. Nevertheless, there are clearly […]

Light in Darkness

Some years ago my brother-in-law was telling a story to my children about an experience he had while flying a small private plane around Manhattan at night. It was a great story, masterfully told, and there were moments when it looked quite bad – like mid-air collision bad – for Our Hero. My kids were […]

Why “Heaven and Earth”?

I like to read the text of the Torah carefully: why are certain words or phrases used instead of others? Take for example, the beginning of the poem near the end of the Torah: Give ear, O heavens, let me speak;Let the earth hear the words I utter! Why is it written this way, instead […]

The Evolution of a Society: From Men to Laws

The Founders were keenly aware of the dangers of a society governed by a king, and they were equally wary of any government that relies on an individual, no matter how great they may be, as the source of guidance and inspiration for a nation. This was a big issue in George Washington’s presidency: was […]

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