Yom Kippur 5778: Who’s in Charge?

An ancient paradox, presented in the name of Rabbi Akiva: הכל צפוי והרשות נתונה (אבות ג, טו) All is foreseen; but choice is given. (Avot 3:15) These four Hebrew words contain the classic conflict between determinism and free will. For millennia, many of the world’s greatest thinkers have struggled to reconcile the sense that we…

Rosh Hashanah 5778: Just Mercy

The pick-up truck was parked outside a prison in rural Alabama. It was festooned with Confederate flags and bigoted bumper stickers; there was a shotgun in a rack. Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer, fresh out of Harvard Law School, coming to visit a new client imprisoned on death row there. He noticed the truck…

5775: A Green Rosh HaShanah

Could it be that Rosh HaShanah is not a Jewish holiday? No—it couldn’t be! Rosh HaShanah is the Jewish New Year. On Rosh HaShanah Jews gather in Jewish houses of worship and say Jewish prayers. We hold our Jewish books, and we blow our Jewish horns. We even take one day and turn it into…

Yom Kippur 5774: The Sage of Sacred Secrets (Yizkor)

Moshe Rabbeinu, alav hashalom—Our master Moses, peace be upon him, played many pivotal roles during 40 years of leadership. He was Israel’s liberator, lawgiver, prophet, judge, general and ombudsman. He was his people’s harshest critic and their staunchest defender. He spoke directly to God, and yet was humble. Moses was our greatest prophet of all…

Rosh HaShanah 5774 Mountains of the Spirit

Rabbi Danny Nevins 1 Tishrei 5774 / 5 September 2013 Early one morning my friend and I broke camp, hoisted our packs, and hit the trail. Soft light filtered through forests of spruce and birch, and drops of dew glistened like gems on every leaf. Approaching the trailhead, we came to the register—a big ledger…