“Your Thoughts: Assimilation”

As we look around America’s melting pot, we see descendants of immigrants.  We see groups of peoples whose ancestors were either forced to arrive here for slavery purposes, or those who arrived here to escape oppression.  Modern day America is a mixture of the descendants of African slaves, now African Americans, as well as the Irish, Italian,…

“Your Thoughts: Discrepancies”

In his teachings, Dr. Michael J. Cook outlines wonderfully some discrepancies between Christian and non-Christian sources, and the possible significance. He states the following examples: Christian Sources (Gospels & Acts)  – Rome and Christianity coexisted relatively harmoniously. Non-Christian Sources (Suetonius/Tacitus/Pliny/Josephus/Philo) – Rome persecuted Christianity, in turn, Christians fear Rome. Possible significance – Christian writers hoped…

“Your Thoughts: Proselytizing”

My wife was recently greeted on the playground, with our son, by six Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They approached her with a hearty “good morning,” to which she politely responded with “good morning.”  My wife is no stranger to evangelists and door-to-door proselytizing, so she handled herself quite well.  One of the Jehovah’s Witnesses asked if she’d…

“Your Thoughts: Two Sets of Hands”

The Talmud (Archin 15b) says that Loshon Hara (evil speech)  “kills” three people: the one who is spoken about, because his reputation is ruined the one who speaks Loshon Hara, because he transgresses and lowers himself spiritually the one who listens to the Loshon Hara, because he is providing the speaker with the opportunity to…

“Sticks and Stones”

This week’s parsha is a familiar story.  The Israelites stand on the edge of Canaan, and before they can enter, Moses wishes to see what awaits them.  He sends twelve Israelites into the land to see what kind of land it is, and what potential enemies await them.  Two of the Israelites come back saying…

“Your Thoughts: Translators”

If you’ve ever read David Bellos’ book Is That a Fish in Your Ear: Translation and The Meaning of Everything, you read his chapter called “What Translators Do.”  If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. He begins: “Speakers of any natural language repeat themselves and others all the time, and to do so they use their…

“Your Thoughts: My Many Colored Days”

I was reading Dr. Seuss’ My Many Colored Days to my son tonight, and I really enjoyed it.  Dr. Seuss has a way of inspiring me and entertaining my son all at the same time.  This happened when I read Oh The Places You’ll Go to my son as well.  My Many Colored Days talks about…

“The Torah Lives”

Beha’alotcha, this week’s parsha, is not an easy one.  Four chapters in the book of Numbers, laying out cultic rules and laws.  It discusses the laws of sin offerings, which aren’t particularly relevant; it outlines the Passover holiday…don’t they know it’s June?  It discusses silver horns to blow to assemble the entire congregation, but that…

“Your Thoughts: Competition”

I’ve never liked religions or movements that try to blot out their competition.  Book burning, for instance, is just the lowest level humanity can achieve, that is unless they are inhuman enough to start burning the bodies of their enemies.  The truth is, when the former starts, the latter is sure to follow. Why?  Why…

“Your Thoughts: Intermarriage”

I saw a post on Facebook recently on my newsfeed that said the following quote attributed to Hakham Ben Tsiyon: “If one converts to Judaism in order to marry at Jew – clearly they are not coerced, they are motivated by love.  Thus we can see this love as a means for that person to draw…

“Your Thoughts: Hazing”

“…I think that hazing is a natural part of defining any group. And I don’t know why. But there’s not a profession or a career or a group out there that, on some level, doesn’t have some ritual in which the new member is either tormented, or tortured, or beaten, or humiliated.” That’s This American…

“Your Thoughts: The Cringe”

I’ve been re-listening to This American Life episodes lately, mostly to pass the time while my son naps in the car.  One of my favorite episodes of all time is called “Cringe.”  In between some hilarious stories that make you cringe, Ira Glass says the following: “You cringe in that moment of revelation, when you…