Why does Tikun Israel precede Tikun Olam?

I was recently asked at a talk that I gave why I emphasize the need for Tikun Israel to precede Tikun Olam. Here is part of my answer to the question: “Rav Salantar taught – first one fixes his house, then his community, then the world, and so on… I am extremely proud of the work Jewish organizations and movements have committed towards healing the world – Tikun Olam. Continue reading

The World As It Should Be?

The world as it should be? Now how you gonna do that? Last week’s Torah portion describes Jacob’s dream (you know, the one with the ladder): “And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of Gd ascending and descending on it. And…the LORD…said: …The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed. And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee whithersoever thou goest, and will bring thee back into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” (Gen 28:12-19). Continue reading

ואהבת לרעך כמוך – Love your neighbor as yourself

“ואהבת לרעך כמוך” הוא פסוק בתורה, מצווה ומושג יסוד, לדעת חכמי ישראל לדורותיהם. משמעותו היא שהאדם צריך לאהוב את הזולת כשם שהוא אוהב את עצמו. מכלל זה נגזרים דרכי התנהגויות רבות, שבגללן חכמי המשנה התייחסו אליו כאל כלל מרכזי וחשוב בכל התורה. זה הזמן בחודש אלול לקראת ימי ראש השנה ויום כיפור שעלינו להתייחס אחד אל השני כמשפחה, כבני אדם. Continue reading

A Case of Mistaken Identity II

Not quite. It turns out that many Jews regardless of their citizenship identify with the People of Israel/Jewish Peoplehood. For some the relationship is prompted by threats against Jews and the state of Israel generating a tremendous amount of talk-back and interest. The recent attack on Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria, the rise of anti-Semitism and terror attacks on Jews in France, the IOC’s denial of a minute of silence in memory of the murdered Israeli athletes in Munich 1972 –all of these events and others like them raise the ire of Jews worldwide from individuals to communities, from federations to governments. Continue reading

A stiff-necked People?

Exodus describes the Israelites as a “stiff necked people”; I prefer a “Resilient People”. Resilience is an individual’s tendency to cope with stress and adversity. This coping may result in the individual “bouncing back” to a previous state of normal functioning, or using the experience of exposure to adversity to function better than expected. Resilience is most commonly understood as a process and not a trait. Continue reading

Tu B’Shvat in Israel – now I get it, too

Yitro, (Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law), a priest of Median “…heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel…” freeing them from slavery and guiding them through the Sinai wilderness (Ex. 18:1). This notion of hearing/knowing all that God has done is magnified here in Israel throughout the Jewish calendar. Since making Aliyah this past summer our experience observing the Sabbaths and holy days have been unlike any other, and here comes Tu B’Shvat. My friend and colleague Esther hit the nail on the head in her Tu B’Shvat email: “…I love that you can always tell what holiday it is here by what’s on sale at the supermarket (There are already hamentaschen out for Purim…). The almond trees are beginning to bloom and flowers are popping up everywhere… And the best news is that the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) has risen over 62 centimeters since the beginning of January (@-212.99m, 1cm above the lower red line)… Continue reading

Why & how are we?

Jacob was to be known as Isra-el.”…כי שרית עם אלוקים ועם אנשים, ותוכל…” (בראשית לב:כט) – ‘Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for thou hast struggled with God and with humanity, and hast prevailed.’ (Genesis 32:29). Isra-el struggles with God and with humanity. We, the People of Isra-el, maintain that struggle/interaction from time immemorial. Continue reading