Musings

Another Land To Cherish

Rabbi David Wolpe reflects on the blessings of America in his weekly column.

07/01/2015
Special to The Jewish Week

On July 4, we should once again recall our extraordinary good fortune.  For almost 20 years I have met once a week with Kirk Douglas to study Torah.  He is now 98 years old.  I once asked him in his remarkable life, what was his greatest blessing?  “No doubt about it,” he answered, “my greatest blessing is that my parents came to America.”

Rabbi David Wolpe

Stretching The Limits

06/24/2015
Special to the Jewish Week


Why do the five books of the Torah end with Israel still in the wilderness? The entire story points toward the Promised Land, yet Moses dies and the Israelites are outside the land.

One possibility is the Torah’s lesson that the land is both a reality and an ideal. In the book of Joshua, the Israelites enter the land and have to fight to establish themselves. In the wilderness, they will dream of the land and envision an ideal.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Acting On Judaism

Rabbi David Wolpe says you can't be a wonderful Jew on sentiment alone.

06/17/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

Judaism has never been a system of belief alone. Judaism is enacted faith.

Immediately following the declaration “Shema,” we read about the ways that declaration is carried into the world: teaching children, mezuzah, tzitzit. When a child reaches maturity we do not say he or she has reached the age of belief, but rather the age of action, a son or daughter of mitzvah. To be a mature Jew is to be an acting Jew.

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Fire This Time

06/10/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

The Greek hero Prometheus steals fire from the gods, for which he is chained to a rock and tortured endlessly. In Jewish lore, on the other hand, Adam is afraid when the first night arrives and God instructs him on how to create a fire. When the blaze ignites, Adam says gratefully, “Blessed be the creator of fire.”

Rabbi David Wolpe

All In The Family

06/03/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

It is remarkable how many turning points in Torah are about events in a family. Not only Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel, but Abraham and Sarah emigrating and Jacob and Esau fighting and Joseph struggling with his brothers. Also, the fidelity of Ruth to Naomi and Esther to Mordecai and Absalom’s betrayal of his father David and Solomon’s succession, and on and on.

Rabbi David Wolpe

When You’re Down And Troubled…

05/27/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

When you are successful the world is at your feet. But what about when you fall?

The boxer Willie Pep made perhaps the most pointed observation on people’s tendency to desert: “The first things to go are your legs. Then it’s your reflexes. And then it’s your friends.”

Rabbi David Wolpe

Music Hath Charms

05/20/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

The Psalmist tells us that he will solve a riddle with his harp (Psalm 49:5). What sort of riddle can be solved with a harp?

Rabbi David Wolpe

New Morning

Jacob's blessing is one of self-transformation.

05/13/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

When Jacob wrestles with the angel until sunrise, the angel tells Jacob to release him as the dawn breaks. Jacob insists on a blessing. The angel asks Jacob his name, and then tells him he is no longer Jacob, but Israel [Genesis 32:25-33].

Rabbi David Wolpe

Limitation And Freedom

05/06/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

A famous philosophical principle comes to us from Immanuel Kant: “ought implies can.” In other words, you cannot suggest that someone ought to do something unless in fact, they can do it. This same principle is expressed by the Rabbis when they state that one is not allowed to make a rule that the community cannot abide.

Rabbi David Wolpe

Rabbi David Wolpe's 'Musings'

'Turkey under the table': Everyone needs someone willing to enter her world.

04/29/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav once told of a prince who suffered from delusions and thought he was a turkey. A wise man cured him by emulating his behavior: Crawling under the table, pecking at his food and behaving just like a turkey. Gradually, he began to ask the prince — “Can’t a turkey wear a shirt?” And, “Can’t a turkey eat with utensils?” In that way the wise man gradually brought the prince back to acknowledging his humanity.

Rabbi David Wolpe
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