Three Great Weekend Reads

In case you missed them…

Do all religions teach the same thing?

Is there a problem with corporate jargon?

Can “Curb Your Enthusiasm” tackle #MeToo?

As Huxley argues, there is a lot of agreement between proponents of classical theism in Platonic, Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish philosophy over three main points: God is unconditioned eternal Being, our consciousness is a reflection or spark of that, and we can find our flourishing or bliss in the realisation of this.

I like Anna Wiener’s term for this kind of talk: garbage language. It’s more descriptive than corporatespeak or buzzwords or jargon. Corporatespeak is dated; buzzword is autological, since it is arguably an example of what it describes; and jargon conflates stupid usages with specialist languages that are actually purposeful, like those of law or science or medicine.

For someone seemingly intent on finding the funny in the day’s hottest buttons, the recent revolution of exposure and cancelation would be too tempting a challenge to pass up. So David and Larry grab on to the third rail with both hands in the season premiere, launching a multi-episode arc that sticks a stubborn, boorish man in a highly delicate situation.

Three Great Jewish Reads

In case you missed them…

Does bipartisan support for Israel still exist?

How does political division wear on us spiritually?

What happens when hunting Nazis is entertainment?

Debates about Israel-related policies always were a part of public discourse, and no one expects the two main parties will agree on all the details. However, some tenets were considered foundational to the idea of bipartisan support and these also seem under threat. Military aid to Israel is one such topic.

How and when will the divisions be healed? Will we ever feel safe? Do we dare to hope for a world that is less angry, more kind and more generous?

It’s not “nice” to do but “necessary” to find ways to be grounded and, dare I say, hopeful. Becoming bitter and angry may feel good and justified for a while, but then you figure out these emotions can eat you alive.

The battle between good and evil plays out in two arenas in Amazon Prime Video’s “Hunters,” a 10-episode series produced by Jordan Peele (“Get Out,” “Us”). It juxtaposes the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II with the eye-for-an-eye revenge mission of a group of mostly Jewish avenging angels, hell-bent on thwarting a conspiracy to resurrect the Third Reich in the United States.

Commentary on Parashat Mishpatim

This week at the Jewish Journal, Parashat Mishpatim is under discussion. In this parsha G‑d legislates a series of laws for the people. These include the laws of the indentured servant; the punishment for murder, kidnapping and theft; civil laws pertaining to redress of damages, the granting of loans; the rules governing the conduct of justice by courts of law. Also included are laws warning against mistreatment of foreigners and the observance of the festivals (such as Sukkot).

Shmuel: The Israelites were slaves for a long time and now they are having laws commanded to them to manage their own slaves. How are these connected?

Rabbi Leon Wiener Dow: The trauma of having been slaves in Egypt has the potential to manifest itself in two different ways. One is that I’m not able to get my head around the fact that I’m not a slave anymore. The other is that sometimes, when we suffer a trauma, the way people deal with it is by inflicting it on someone else.

But if the slave declares, “I love my master, and my wife and children: I do not wish to go free,” his master shall take him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall then remain his slave for life. -Exodus 21:5-6

Dini Coopersmith: I learned this message of the Nesivos Shalom, the writings of Rabbi Noach Berezovsky, zatzal: Sometimes, he says, we get so entrenched in the material world that we lose our identity as a Jew, an Israelite and go back to being a “Hebrew” — a slave to our physical desires.

On Shabbat, the Torah commands in this week’s torah portion, “You shall do no work … rest and sanctify it.”

On Shabbat, we leave our hectic schedules and spend the day together as a family: eating, talking, singing, praying, catching up and enjoying one another’s company.

Shabbat is a 24-hour “commitment device” that helps us bring out our better selves and allows the true richness of our life and family to emerge.

Three New Jewish Podcasts

Just in time for the weekend, three new podcasts about Judaism, Jewish culture, and Israel.

Shmuel Rosner and Boris Dolin discuss Boris’s new book – the “Suez wall”  which details the unknown history of Israel’s war of attrition.

“In the late 60s, the Soviet Union decided that it’s time to send its navy to the world ocean. The first arena they put their new ships in was the Mediterranean, but they needed an excuse, so they created the crisis that we know as they the six-day war.”

How do we secure the Jewish future in a changing America? Rabbi Bachman has some ideas.

“People used to define themselves as a Jew first and an American second. In the course of my rabbinical career, I’ve seen it drop down. It’s there, but it might be fifth or sixth on the list. We can tear our clothes but none of that really helps us.”

In 2015, Prof. Uri Shanas of Haifa University came up with a groundbreaking idea – what if private people got together to buy a big chunk of nature, and committed to preserve it. With several partners, Uri created TiME – This is My Earth, an organization that strives to purchase and preserve 2.3% of Earth’s entire territory.

Today’s Hot Issues

Three Great Weekend Reads Three Great Jewish Reads Commentary on Parashat Mishpatim Three New Jewish Podcasts