Covenant & Conversation

  • 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
  • When truth is sacrificed to power (Korach 5775)

    What was wrong with Korach and his fellow rebels? On the face of it, what they said was both true and principled. “You have gone too far,” they said to Moses and Aaron. “The whole community is holy, every one… read more
  • Assembling Reminders (Shelach Lecha 5775)

    Photo credit: Oren Hayon You are driving ever so slightly above the speed limit. You see a police car in your rear view mirror. You slow down. You know perfectly well that it is wrong to exceed the speed limit… read more
  • From Pain to Humility (Behaalotcha 5775)

    David Brooks, in his new best seller, The Road to Character,[1] draws a sharp distinction between what he calls the résumé virtues – the achievements and skills that bring success – and the eulogy virtues, the ones that are spoken… read more
  • Two Versions of the Moral Life (Naso 5775)

    The parsha of Naso contains the laws relating to the nazirite – an individual who undertook, usually for a limited period of time, to observe special rules of holiness and abstinence: not to drink wine or other intoxicants (including anything… read more