Covenant & Conversation

  • Two Kinds of Fear (Shelach Lecha 5776)

    One of the most powerful addresses I ever heard was given by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, on this week’s parsha: the story of the spies. For me, it was nothing less than life-changing. He asked the obvious… read more
  • From Despair to Hope (Beha’alotecha 5776)

    There have been times when one passage in today’s parsha was for me little less than life-saving. No leadership position is easy. Leading Jews is harder still. And spiritual leadership can be hardest of them all. Leaders have a public… read more
  • The Blessing of Love (Naso 5776)

    At 176 verses, Naso is the longest of the parshiyot. Yet one of its most moving passages, and the one that has had the greatest impact over the course of history, is very short indeed and is known by almost… read more
  • The Sound of Silence (Bamidbar 5776)

    Bamidbar is usually read on the Shabbat before Shavuot. So the sages connected the two. Shavuot is the time of the giving of the Torah. Bamibar means, “In the desert.” What then is the connection between the desert and the… read more
  • A Sense of Direction (Bechukotai 5776)

    Smartphones can do amazing things – few more amazing than Waze, the Israeli-designed satellite navigation system acquired by Google in 2013. But there is one thing even Waze cannot do. It can tell you how to get there, but it… read more
  • Family Feeling (Behar 5776)

    I argued in Covenant and Conversation Kedoshim that Judaism is more than an ethnicity. It is a call to holiness. In one sense, however, there is an important ethnic dimension to Judaism. It is best captured in the 1980s joke… read more
  • Holy Times (Emor 5776)

    The parsha of Emor contains a chapter dedicated to the festivals of the Jewish year. There are five such passages in the Torah. Two, both in the book of Exodus (Ex. 23:14-17; 34:18, 22-23), are very brief. They refer only… read more
  • In Search of Jewish Identity (Kedoshim 5776)

    The other day I was having a conversation with a Jewish intellectual and the question came up, as it often does, as to the nature of Jewish identity. What are we? What makes us Jewish? This has been one of… read more
  • The Courage to Admit Mistakes (Acharei Mot 5776)

    Some years ago I was visited by the then American ambassador to the Court of St James, Philip Lader. He told me of a fascinating project he and his wife had initiated in 1981. They had come to realise that… read more
  • The Power of Shame (Metsorah 5776)

    On 20 December 2013, a young woman, Justine Sacco, was waiting in Heathrow airport before boarding a flight to Africa. To while away the time she sent a Tweet in questionable taste about the hazards of catching AIDS. There was… read more