Covenant & Conversation

  • The Face of Evil (Beshalach 5775)

    After 9/11, when the horror and trauma had subsided, Americans found themselves asking what had happened and why. Was it a disaster? A tragedy? A crime? An act of war? It did not seem to fit the pre-existing paradigms. And… read more
  • Telling the Story (Bo 5775)

    Go to Washington and make a tour of the memorials and you will make a fascinating discovery. Begin at the Lincoln Memorial with its giant statue of the man who braved civil war and presided over the ending of slavery.… read more
  • Freewill (Vaera 5775)

    The question is ancient. If God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, then it was God who made Pharaoh refuse to let the Israelites go, not Pharaoh himself. How can this be just? How could it be right to punish Pharaoh and his… read more
  • On Not Obeying Immoral Orders (Shemot 5775)

    The opening chapters of Exodus plunge us into the midst of epic events. Almost at a stroke the Israelites are transformed from protected minority to slaves. Moses passes from prince of Egypt to Midianite shepherd to leader of the Israelites… read more
  • When is it permitted to tell a lie? (Vayechi 5775)

    After the death of Jacob, Joseph’s brothers were afraid. Years earlier, when he had revealed his true identity to them, he appeared to have forgiven them for selling him as a slave. That was the theme of last week’s essay.… read more
  • The Birth of Forgiveness (Vayigash 5775)

    There are moments that change the world: 1439 when Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable-type printing press (though the Chinese had developed it four centuries before), or 1821 when Faraday invented the electric motor, or 1990 when Tim Berners-Lee created the… read more
  • Appearance and Reality (Mikketz 5775)

    Finally after twenty-two years and many twists and turns, Joseph and his brothers meet. We sense the drama of the moment. The last time they had been together, the brothers planned to kill Joseph and eventually sold him as a… read more
  • The Heroism of Tamar (Vayeshev 5775)

    This is a true story that took place in the 1970s. Rabbi Dr Nahum Rabinovitch, then Principal of Jews College, the rabbinic training seminary in London where I was a student and teacher, was approached by an organisation that had… read more
  • The Parable of the Tribes (Vayishlach 5775)

    From beginning to end, Genesis 34 tells a terrifying story. Dina, Jacob’s daughter – the only Jewish daughter mentioned in the entire patriarchal narratives – leaves the safety of home to go out to “look at the daughters of the… read more
  • Love Is Not Enough (Vayetse 5775)

    Judaism is supremely a religion of love: three loves. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might.” “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” And “You shall love… read more