Ki Tisa

Posted on February 18th, 2019
Exodus 30:11−34:35

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Anger: Its Uses and Abuses

Comparing two of the most famous events in the Torah, we face what seems like a glaring contradiction. In this week’s parsha, Moses on the mountain is told by God to go down to the people. 
They have made a golden calf. Moses descends, holding in his hands the holiest object of all time, the two tablets carved and inscribed by God Himself.

As he reached the foot of the mountain, he saw the people dancing around the calf. In his anger, he threw down the tablets and broke them to pieces (Ex. 32:19). It was a public display of anger. Yet Moses was not criticised for this act, done entirely of his own accord.[1] Resh Lakish, commenting on the verse in which God commands Moses to carve a new set of tablets to replace the ones “which you broke” (Ex. 34:1), says that God was, in effect, giving His approval to Moses’ deed.[2]     
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Posted on February 11th, 2019

Exodus 27:20–30:10

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Crushed for the Light


There are lives that are lessons. The late Henry Knobil’s was one. He was born in Vienna in 1932. His father had come there in the 1920s to escape the rising tide of antisemitism in Poland, but like Jacob fleeing from Esau to Laban, he found that he had fled one danger only to arrive at another.

After the Anschluss and Kristallnacht it became clear that, if the family were to survive, they had to leave. They arrived in Britain in 1939, just weeks before their fate would have been sealed had they stayed. Henry grew up in Nottingham, in the Midlands. There he studied textiles, and after his army service went to work for one of the great British companies, eventually starting his own highly successful textile business.

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Posted on February 4th, 2019

Exodus 25:1–27:19

By Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann for

Doing What We Must

The Torah tells us at the beginning of parshas Terumah that the Mishkan (Tabernacle) is to be built through the donations of B’nei Yisrael. Later on, in parshas Vayakhel (chapter 36), the Torah describes the outpouring of materials contributed towards the construction of the Mishkan and its accessories. One gets the impression that the Torah is encouraging goodwill and voluntarism; that it praises the Jewish people for their voluntary contributions.

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Mishpatim - Mahar Chodesh

Posted on January 28th, 2019

Exodus 21:1−24:18

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

William Ury, founder of the Harvard Program of Negotiation, tells a marvellous story in one of his books.[1] A young American, living in Japan to study aikido, was sitting one afternoon in a train in the suburbs of Tokyo. The carriage was half empty. There were some mothers with children, and elderly people going shopping.

Then at one of the stations, the doors opened, and a man staggered into the carriage, shouting, drunk, dirty, and aggressive. He started cursing the people, and lunged at a woman holding a baby. The blow hit her and sent her into the lap of an elderly couple. They jumped up and ran to the other end of the carriage. This angered the drunk, who went after them, grabbing a metal pole and trying to wrench it out of its socket. It was a dangerous situation, and the young student readied himself for a fight.

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Posted on January 21st, 2019

Exodus 18:1–20:23 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 

The Bond of Loyalty and Love

In the course of any life there are moments of awe and amazement when, with a full heart, you thank God shehecheyanu vekiyemanu vehigiyanu lazeman hazeh, “who has kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this day.”

Two that particularly stand out in my own memory were separated by almost ten years. The first was the Lambeth Conference at Canterbury in 2008. The conference is the gathering, every ten years, of the bishops of the Anglican Communion – that is, not just the Church of England but the entire worldwide structure, much of it based in America and Africa. It is the key event that brings this global network of churches together to deliberate on directions for the future. That year I became, I believe, the first rabbi to address a plenary session of the conference. The second, much more recent, took place in October 2017 in Washington when I addressed the friends and supporters of the American Enterprise Institute, one of the world’s great economic think tanks.

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