Musings

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

Learning And Legacy

04/22/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

Readers of the Gilgamesh epic are often struck by its similarity to the Bible story. There is a man created from earth who loses paradise, who accepts food from a woman, who is clothed after nakedness, a massive flood, a perfidious snake and much more. Gilgamesh tells of a quest for immortality, and in that quest we see an important distinction.

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Real Business Of Synagogue

04/15/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

Once Rabbi Lev Yitzchak of Bereditchev went to the marketplace in the middle of a busy weekday. There he stood and proclaimed lessons from the Torah. One of the men in the market said, “Rabbi, with all due respect, we are trying to conduct business here.” “I’m sorry,” replied the Bereditchever. “I just thought that since you always talk business in the synagogue, I could talk Torah in the marketplace.”

Rabbi David Wolpe

Fully Free

04/08/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

Why is the Torah compared by our sages to a marriage contract, to a ketubah? 

One might suppose that they both limit freedom. Each constrains what a person may do, imposing obligations and restricting choices. But to see it this way is to misunderstand freedom. Freedom is the expansion of opportunity not the absence of obligation.

Rabbi David Wolpe

It’s A Classic

04/01/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

In high school I approached a well-known rabbi and told him that I had read one of his books and liked it very much. “Ah, have you read my other book?” he asked. No, I had not. “You should,” he told me, “it’s a classic.”

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Torah’s Practical Bent

03/25/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

Judaism may seem abstract, but the things that keep it alive are very concrete. If you cannot pay for food and clothes, for the lights and the rooms, the desks and the books, the ideas have nowhere to take root. This deep truth is expressed in a powerful story about Rabbi Hiyya.

Tell The Story

03/18/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

Jews venerate memory. So important is memory to Jews that one characterization of God in our prayers is “Zochair kol Hanishkachot” — the one who remembers everything forgotten. To be God is to have the gift of perfect memory.

Rabbi David Wolpe
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