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Sukkot Reading

September 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Something interesting to read over Sukkot … how many books have you read? Isn’t it time for you to read a Jewish book?

Here’s Tablet Magazine’s round up of the 101 Great Jewish Books

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Categories: Books Tags: ,

First time, shame on you…

There are some folks who think the Jewish people are nuts! And I am beginning to wonder if they are not right!

Albert Einstein was considered the greatest mind of the 20th century, although it is reported that his wife, in speaking of him, would say: “What does he know?” But he knew a lot! And he came up with a definition of insanity that has become immortalized. It was Einstein who reportedly said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” By that definition, there are people who must think the Jews are insane!

One of them is Thomas Friedman. Thomas Friedman is one of the world’s leading political columnists. His books and his column on the editorial page in the NY Times are read and taken into consideration world-wide by leaders of public and international policy. There are some Jews who consider Mr. Friedman an enemy of Israel. And the truth is, he has written things about Israel that were nasty, inappropriate and downright wrong. But I, for one, do not consider him an enemy of Israel. His first book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, is a classic. Anyone interested in the Middle East should read it. Mr. Friedman grew up with a Zionist background, and I think he genuinely cares about the state of Israel, while having a dislike for many of its policies and leaders. He is no fan of Prime Minister Netanyahu. But with Mr. Netanyahu now having control over 96 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, last month Mr. Friedman – feeling that Netanyahu can now do anything he wants – gave him some advice in what to do help reach a settlement with the Palestinians. Friedman’s advice? Don’t wait for the Palestinians to come to the table … Israel should unilaterally pull back from areas in the West Bank that will someday be given over to a Palestinian state. Friedman referred to a peace plan that was advocated a month earlier in an op-ed in the NY Times by two former Israeli security officials. Israel, on its own, should stop all settlement building, pull back to behind its security fence in the West Bank and start to build housing for 100,000 Jewish settlers who would have to be relocated. In return for which, the Palestinians would agree to …? To nothing! It would be a unilateral act on Israel’s part. READ MORE

Noah, Steve Jobs and the Tower of Babel

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Today, from start to finish, I want to talk to you about Steve Jobs … from the start of today’s Torah portion until its conclusion, for both contain an important lesson regarding Steve Jobs’ life and death and an important lesson for all of us to take to heart.

Our Torah portion this morning told the story of Noah and the flood. But before the story is told, our rabbis first discuss: how did Noah get his name, and what does it mean? The Torah tells us: “Zeh yinachameinu mimaseinu u’mei-itzvon yadainu … this one will bring us rest from our work and the toil of our hands.” Noach means, rest” and “comfort.” Why did he get this name? Because, according to our tradition, Noah was the creator of the first advancement in agricultural technology. It was Noah who invented the plow … the first great farming tool that made it easier for early mankind to abandon a nomadic existence and to till the soil, easing man’s physical workload. It provided mankind opportunities for rest and leisure and the comforts of life.

Steve Jobs followed in the footsteps of Noah. His technological creations changed the way in which we live. It is said that three apples changed the course of history: Adam’s apple, Newton’s apple … and Steve Jobs’ Apple! I use his computer and his phone, and well understand from personal experience how remarkable this man’s creations are. Genius is certainly a word appropriate for him. His technological advancements open the book of knowledge to billions around the world. That’s something we Jews should applaud. At the beginning of Genesis where God tells us, “Be fruitful and multiply … fill the earth and subdue it,” my teacher, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, says that means that it is a religious requirement to harness the forces of nature for the betterment of all mankind. READ MORE

PLUS: If you want to gain Jewish knowledge, here is a good place to start.  Although I don’t agree with many of the selections, they are all worth considering in The Huffington Post’s Jewish Books: 18 Essential Texts Every Jew Should Read

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A great Haggadah for your Seder!

Look whose Haggadah is being featured by the Baltimore Jewish Times!

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Chanukah’s contemporary lessons

December 14, 2009 Comments off

Here are two different perspectives on the contemporary lessons of Chanukah … they both make you think:

The Hanukkah Story, by David Brooks (New York Times, 12/10/09)

Kosher Courage, by Matthew Wagner (Jerusalem Post, 12/13/09)

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