The Righteous Mind

The Righteous Mind

I recently finished reading Professor Jonathan Haidt's new book The Righteous Mind and found it to be utterly fascinating. The objective of the book is to present readers with a nuanced psychologically based reason for why people of good will and character differ so sharply and so strongly on critical issues. He specifically draws our attention to the subjects of religion and politics but his theory could be applied to any subject on which people passionately and vigorously disagree.This is … [Read more...]

The Exodus and Miraculous Realism

Egyptian slaves

This past weekend Jews throughout the world celebrated the beginning of Pesach, the Passover holiday, by embarking on the ancient rituals of the seder. The seder, with its rich symbolic actions and accompanying powerful text from the Haggadah, is an entryway into the psychological, emotional and spiritual experience of the Exodus. Indeed, this is the very point of having the seder, as the early rabbis taught: "In every generation, one is obligated to see oneself as having left Egypt. (Pesachim … [Read more...]

A Philosophy of Jewish Law

halacha

The most defining characteristic of an observant Jewish life is fidelity to the halacha, to Jewish law. The halacha is an all-encompassing system that governs a person's life from the moment they wake up in the morning until they go to sleep at night. There is little area in one's daily routine that is not nuanced by Jewish law. A person who maintains a life devoted to halacha is often asked about the perceived burden of doing so.1 How is it possible to live life encumbered by so many details … [Read more...]

Torah Learning as the Foundation of Community

It was a little over a year ago that I wrote an article for the religion magazine First Things in which I argued that the foundation for building a large umbrella inclusive community cannot rest on shared prayer alone. I wrote: "Perhaps we require a different paradigm for Jewish inclusiveness. For a generation we have relied on shared ritual. But ritual runs directly into contentious issues such as gender separation, and leads to the stark contrast of the highest or lowest common denominator. … [Read more...]


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