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Editorial & Opinion | Musings

02/25/2015 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

When Moses came down from Sinai, the Torah teaches, “He did not know that his face was aglow” [Exodus 34:29].

02/18/2015 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

Martin Gilbert, who recently died, completed the official biography of Winston Churchill and wrote many other books on Jewish, general and British history. But he was also an extraordinary mensch. I experienced his kindness myself.

02/12/2015 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

The Hebrew word “Pesach” denotes a holiday, and refers to the angel of death skipping over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt. But the same word that means skipping also means “lame.” Hidden in that similarity is a deep lesson.

02/04/2015 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

Perhaps no concept in Judaism has been more misused and misunderstood than chosenness. It is not a doctrine of racial superiority, though some have interpreted it as such. The first statement in the Torah about human beings is that all are created in the image of God and all have a common ancestry. The choice is one of service, not of being served. And it does not preclude the notion that other nations too are chosen for other tasks.

01/28/2015 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

History can change by very slim margins: Had Blucher been a little late to Waterloo or, as Pascal put it, had Cleopatra’s nose been longer, the world would have been different.

01/21/2015 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer criticized Judaism for being an optimistic religion. One could make a case for Judaism’s pessimism based on a history of suffering, or even on certain verses from the Tanach, (e.g. Ecclesiastes 7:1: “The day of death is better than the day of birth”). Nonetheless, Schopenhauer was right. Judaism is, in the end, optimistic.