Covenant & Conversation

  • The Gift of Giving (Terumah 5776)

    It was the first Israelite house of worship, the first home Jews made for God. But the very idea is fraught with paradox, even contradiction. How can you build a house for God? He is bigger than anything we can… read more
  • Doing and Hearing (Mishpatim 5776)

    One of the most famous phrases in the Torah makes its appearance in this week’s parsha. It has often been used to characterise Jewish faith as a whole. It consists of two words: na’aseh venishma, literally, “we will do and… read more
  • To Thank Before We Think (Yitro 5776)

    The Ten Commandments are the most famous religious-and-moral code in history. Until recently they adorned American courtrooms. They still adorn most synagogue arks. Rembrandt gave them their classic artistic expression in his portrait of Moses, about to break the tablets… read more
  • Renewable Energy (Beshallach 5776)

    The first translation of the Torah into another language – Greek – took place in around the second century BCE, in Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy II. It is known as the Septuagint, in Hebrew Hashiv’im, because it was… read more
  • The Spiritual Child (Bo 5776)

    The American writer Bruce Feiler recently published a best-selling book entitled The Secrets of Happy Families.[1] It’s an engaging work that uses research largely drawn from fields like team building, problem solving and conflict resolution, showing how management techniques can… read more
  • Spirits in a Material World (Vaera 5776)

    The Torah sometimes says something of fundamental importance in what seems like a minor and incidental comment. There is a fine example of this near the beginning of today’s parsha. Last week, we read of how Moses was sent by… read more
  • Turning Curses into Blessings (Shemot 5776)

    Genesis ends on an almost serene note. Jacob has found his long lost son. The family has been reunited. Joseph has forgiven his brothers. Under his protection and influence the family has settled in Goshen, one of the most prosperous… read more
  • On Not Predicting the Future (Vayechi 5776)

    Jacob was on his death-bed. He summoned his children. He wanted to bless them before he died. But the text begins with a strange semi-repetition:  “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to… read more
  • Reframing (Vayigash 5776)

    Maimonides called his ideal type of human being – the sage – a rofe nefashot, a “healer of souls”.[1] Today we call such a person a psychotherapist, a word coined relatively recently from the Greek word psyche, meaning “soul”, and… read more
  • To Wait Without Despair (Mikketz 5776)

    Something extraordinary happens between last week’s parsha and this week’s. It is almost as if the pause of a week between them were itself part of the story. Recall last week’s parsha about the childhood of Joseph, focusing not on… read more