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On Being Nice

Here’s a heretical thought. Avraham could afford to be nice to people because he didn’t have to live in a typical Jewish community. Don’t kill me. Jewish communities are probably no better or worse than most other communities. They all like to impose their own conventions, have their expectations and feel uncomfortable with those people who do not exactly fit…

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Mourning

This week I had three Houses of Mourning to attend. There was a sad symmetry to the three shivas. One was for a ninety-year-old man. The second was for a middle-aged woman who died of cancer. The third was for a young man, whose life was tragically cut short, to the incredible pain of his parents and siblings. For the…

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Ushpizin

The current “hot favorite” Israeli film is called Ushpizin. Ushpizin is an Aramaic word for “guest” and the verb means “to host”. The film is made and acted by two formerly secular actors, now married and converted to religion in a very serious way. The plot is about a childless couple of “returnees” to religion who have adopted the Bratslav…

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Creation

As we return to reading the Biblical story of creation, the battle over what should be taught in American schools rages on. According to The Washington Post, George Bush wants school science classes to teach Intelligent Design as an alternative to Darwinian or neo-Darwinian evolution. He said: “Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can…

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Be Happy!

The Torah command us times to “rejoice” on Sukkot. The fact is that one should enjoy all festivals (with the possible exception of Yom Kippur). And if you check out Deuteronomy 28:47 you’ll find that in general, in every part of our lives, we are expected to see the good and worship God through joy and that is the source…

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Philo & Pepys

We Jews really are a funny people. We strive to acquire nice homes and the security of our own little palaces, yet at this time of the year we are busy putting up rickety shacks or garden huts without roves, or prefabricated enclosures in fabric, plastic, canvas or waterproof Burberry, or extensions with electronically operated roofs that have automatic sensors…

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