Covenant & Conversation

  • Moses’ Death, Moses’ Life (Vezot Habracha 5775)

    And so Moses dies, alone on a mountain with God as he had been all those years ago when, as a shepherd in Midian, he caught sight of a bush in flames and heard the call that changed his life… read more
  • The Arc of the Moral Universe (Ha’azinu 5775)

    In majestic language, Moses breaks into song, investing his final testament to the Israelites with all the power and passion at his command. He begins dramatically but gently, calling heaven and earth to witness what he is about to say,… read more
  • Torah as Song (Vayelech 5775)

    Moses’ long and tempestuous career is about to end. With words of blessing and encouragement he hands on the mantle of leadership to his successor Joshua, saying, “I am a hundred and twenty years old today. I may no longer… read more
  • Why Judaism? (Nitzavim 5775)

    This week’s parsha raises a question that goes to the heart of Judaism, but which was not asked for many centuries until raised by a great Spanish scholar of the fifteenth century, Rabbi Isaac Arama. Moses is almost at the… read more
  • The Pursuit of Joy (Ki Tavo 5775)

    Happiness, said Aristotle, is the ultimate goal at which all humans aim.[1] But in Judaism it is not necessarily so. Happiness is a high value. Ashrei, the closest Hebrew word to happiness, is the first word of the book of… read more
  • 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