Covenant & Conversation

  • To the Third and Fourth Generations (Ki Tetzei 5775)

    There is, on the face of it, a fundamental contradiction in the Torah. On the one hand we hear, in the passage known as the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, the following words: The Lord, the Lord, compassionate and gracious God,… read more
  • Environmental Responsibility (Shoftim 5775)

    Some commands in the Torah were understood so narrowly by the sages that they were rendered almost inapplicable. One example is the ir ha-nidachat, the city led astray into idolatry, about which the Torah states that “you must kill all… read more
  • The Second Tithe and the Making of a Strong Society (Re’eh 5775)

    Biblical Israel from the time of Joshua until the destruction of the Second Temple was a predominantly agricultural society. Accordingly, it was through agriculture that the Torah pursued its religious and social programme. It has three fundamental elements. The first… read more
  • The Power of Gratitude (Ekev 5775)

    In the early 1990s one of the great medical research exercises of modern times took place. It became known as the Nun Study. Some 700 American nuns, all members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in the United States,… read more
  • The Right and the Good (Va’etchanan 5775)

    Buried among the epic passages in Va-etchanan – among them the Shema and the Ten Commandments – is a brief passage with large implications for the moral life in Judaism. Here it is together with the preceding verse: You shall … read more
  • Why are there so many Jewish lawyers? (Devarim 5775)

    At the beginning of Devarim, Moses reviews the history of the Israelites’ experience in the wilderness, beginning with the appointment of leaders throughout the people, heads of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. He continues: And I charged your judges at… read more
  • Retribution and Revenge (Mattot-Masei 5775)

    Near the end of Bemidbar, we encounter the law of the cities of refuge: three cities to the east of the Jordan and, later, three more within the land of Israel itself. There, people who had committed homicide could flee… read more
  • Elijah and the Still, Small Voice (Pinchas 5775)

    Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘Why are you here, Elijah?’ He replied, I am moved by the zeal for the Lord, God of Hosts…” The Lord said to him, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain… read more
  • A people that dwells alone? (Balak 5775)

    In the course of blessing the Jewish people Bilaam uttered words that have come to seem to many[1] to encapsulate Jewish history: How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I doom whom God has not doomed?… read more
  • Anger Management (Chukkat 5775)

    There are some, say the Talmud, who acquire their world in an hour and others who lose it in an hour. No example of the latter is more arresting and bewildering than the famous episode in this week’s parsha. The… read more