Saturday, 27 June 2015

Mussar: Competitiveness Drives Away the Truth

"Those who possess the characteristic of always desiring to outdo others cannot accept the Truth. When people have the desire to always be right, even when the truth is plain before their eyes, they will distort in order to maintain their imagine superiority.

This applies in all areas of life."
~ Rav Nachman of Breslov
Likutei Moharan I 122 

Kol Tuv,

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Hillary Milhous Clinton - WSJ

"The similarities between Richard Nixon and Mrs. Clinton go well beyond their hostility toward the press."


Kol Tuv,

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Mussar: How and Why Arguing with Most People is a Waste of Time

"The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it."

~ George Bernard Shaw

Only a sincere Seeker of Truth seems to get past this

Rav Nachman of Breslov noted that arguers often become overtaken by "Ko'ach Hannitzachon" and thereby lose their objectivity to understand or to value counter-arguments. Beth Hillel were deemed "Anv'sonnim", perhaps due to this peculiar meedah.

I have given colleagues "ultimatums" as follows

Either be a passionate advocate for a position


Be passionately objective about the truth.

But don't conflate the too. If you wish to be an intellectually honest researcher, then drop your prejudices and follow the trail of the evidence. If you go in with your mind made up, forgetaboutit.

Kol Tuv,

Thursday, 18 June 2015

RCA Condolences to Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC
Jun 18, 2015 -- The following letter has been sent to the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, in the wake of the horrific shootings there:

To the Members of the Emanuel AME Church,

As fellow human beings created in the image of God, as fellow Americans, and as members of a people that shares the experiences of discrimination and murder based on faith and ethnicity, we, the largest collection of Orthodox Jewish rabbis in the nation, express to you our outrage at the murders of nine of your brothers and sisters, including your pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

We extend to you, and to their families, our deepest expressions of condolence and pledge to work with you, and other people of faith, to bring an end to violence and discrimination, and to the hatreds that so many of us hoped had waned which have returned with virulent force. We act in the spirit of consolation that came to us in our recent time of need, when Palestinian terrorists entered a place of worship during services and massacred four rabbis, and letters of support came to us from fellow Americans.

May the prophecy of Isaiah be fulfilled for you and your community, "The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted (30:26)" and "Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end (Isaiah 60:20)."

Sincerely yours,
President Rabbi Leonard Matanky
Executive Vice President Rabbi Mark Dratch

The RCA is to be commended for this.

Monday, 15 June 2015

United with Israel: I Cannot Be Charlie Hebdo

The natural response to the attack against Charlie Hebdo is to stand in support of those who were terrorized. The challenge, though, is that, while one can defend Charlie Hebdo's right to do what it does, in response to this terror, are we also called upon to agree with it? This is an issue I address in my latest blog on United with Israel at (with 2 comments). It can also be found on Facebook at where it has 159 likes, 22 shares and 14 comments (including one of my own). Feel free to comment here or there.

A further issue that I did not address in the UWI blog but would like to mention here, in that it must also be addressed, is the balancing of Western values with Torah values. In the blog, I speak as one who favours the Western value of freedom of religion which includes the respect of variant religions. I therefore inherently have problems with Charlie Hebdo's mocking of Islam. How, though, we can ask, does Torah values actually look at this mocking? It would seem to me clear that Torah values would look upon Charlie Hebdo's mocking of Judaism negatively. The question is actually not how Torah would view the mocking of Islam in a vacuum but, rather, how to view it within the context of living within the Western world. This explains my approach with the UWI blog but the full position is actually much more complex

Rabbi Ben Hecht