Covenant & Conversation

  • Not In Heaven (Nitzavim 5776)

    When I was a student at university in the late 1960s – the era of student protests, psychedelic drugs, and the Beatles meditating with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – a story went the rounds. An American Jewish woman in her… read more
  • We Are What We Remember (Ki Tavo 5776)

    One reason religion has survived in the modern world despite four centuries of secularisation is that it answers the three questions every reflective human being will ask at some time in his or her life: Who am I? Why am… read more
  • The Limits of Love (Ki Teitse 5776)

    In a parsha laden with laws, one in particular is full of fascination. Here it is: If a man has two wives, one loved, the other unloved [senuah, literally “hated”], and both the loved and the unloved bear him sons… read more
  • The Greatness of Humility (Shoftim 5776)

    At a dinner to celebrate the work of a communal leader, the guest speaker paid tribute to his many qualities: his dedication, hard work and foresight. As he sat down the leader leaned over and said, “You forgot to mention… read more
  • The Deep Power of Joy (Re’eh 5776)

    On 14 October 1663 the famous diarist Samuel Pepys paid a visit to the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Creechurch Lane in the city of London. Jews had been exiled from England in 1290 but in 1656, following an intercession… read more
  • The Spirituality of Listening (Eikev 5776)

    It is one of the most important words in Judaism, and also one of the least understood. Its two most famous occurrences are in last week’s parsha and this week’s: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is… read more
  • The Power of Why (Va’etchanan 5776)

    In a much watched TED talk Simon Sinek asked the question: how do great leaders inspire action?[1] What made people like Martin Luther King and Steve Jobs stand out from their contemporaries who may have been no less gifted, no… read more
  • To 120: Growing Old, Staying Young (Devarim 5776)

    On 27 March 2012, to celebrate the diamond jubilee of the Queen, an ancient ceremony took place at Buckingham Palace. A number of institutions presented Loyal Addresses to the Queen, thanking her for her service to the nation. Among them… read more
  • Keeping Our Word (Matot 5776)

    This week’s parsha opens with an account of the laws of vows and oaths. What is it doing here near the end of the book of Numbers, as the Israelites approach the destination of their journey to the promised land?… read more
  • The Complexity of Human Rights (Matot-Masei 5776)

    The book of Bamidbar comes to a close that is very strange indeed. Earlier in the parsha of Pinchas we read of how the five daughters of Tzelophehad came to Moses with a claim based on justice and human rights.[1]… read more