Covenant & Conversation

  • Violence and the Sacred (Tzav 5775)

    Why sacrifices? To be sure, they have not been part of the life of Judaism since the destruction of the Second Temple, almost 2,000 years ago. But why, if they are a means to an end, did God choose this… read more
  • Why Do We Sacrifice? (Vayikra 5775)

    The laws of sacrifices that dominate the early chapters of the book of Leviticus, are among the hardest in the Torah to relate to in the present. It has been almost 2,000 years since the Temple was destroyed and the… read more
  • Integrity in Public Life (Pekudei 5775)

    There is a verse so familiar that we don’t often stop to reflect on what it means. It is the line from the first paragraph of the Shema: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with… read more
  • The Spirit of Community (Vayakhel 5775)

    What do you do when your people has just made a golden calf, run riot and lost its sense of ethical and spiritual direction? How do you restore moral order – not just then in the days of Moses, but… read more
  • Can there be Compassion without Justice? (Ki Tissa, 5775)

    At the height of the drama of the Golden Calf a vivid and enigmatic scene takes place. Moses has secured forgiveness for the people. But now, on Mount Sinai yet again, he does more. He asks God to be with… read more
  • The Ethic of Holiness (Tetzaveh 5775)

    With Tetzaveh something new enters Judaism: Torat cohanim, the world and mindset of the priest. Rapidly it became a central dimension of Judaism. It dominates the next book of the Torah, Vayikra. Until now, though, priests in the Torah have… read more
  • The Gratitude of Labour (Terumah 5775)

    There is an important principle in Judaism, a source of hope and also one of the structuring principles of the Torah. It is the principle that God creates the cure before the disease. Bad things may happen but God has… read more
  • Healing the Heart of Darkness (Mishpatim 5775)

    Jobbik, otherwise known as the Movement for a Better Hungary, is an ultra-nationalist Hungarian political party that has been described as fascist, neo-Nazi, racist, and anti-semitic. It has accused Jews of being part of a “cabal of western economic interests”… read more
  • The Structure of the Good Society (Yitro 5775)

    In the House of Lords there is a special chamber used, among other things, as the place where new peers are robed before their introduction into the House. When my predecessor Lord Jakobovits was introduced, the official robing him commented… read more
  • 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