Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Divrei Torah

Thoughts on Marriage

From time to time, I will part from my usual format of answering questions to share with you thoughts regarding marriage and its challenges.

A number of years ago, I was speaking to a large gathering of women at a N’shei Chabad convention.  After my address, during the question period, a woman began telling the story of her marriage a number of


Ten Ways to Upgrade Back-to-School Night

Our schools are great. I really believe that. And because of that, I’m confident that the leaders and teachers in our schools can put their heads together to come up with a better way to do “Back-to-School Night.” If Facebook posts and bus stop conversations are any indication, parents perceive Back-to-School Night as a test of their endurance and patience.


The Power of Connections: Thoughts on Rosh Hashana

Imagine the scene at the funeral of Avraham. Everyone is there. The room is full. There is an overflow crowd stretching out the door as thousands of people have come to pay their last respects to the individual whose new way of thinking about God had revolutionized the world.

Avraham’s son Yitzhak gets up to speak. He looks out over the huge crowd and there,


Repression of the Sublime

It was advertised as one symposium at a major psychology conference. It was to be a discussion about memory and forgetfulness. But it turned out to be one of the most intense and instructive days that I have ever witnessed.

The first speaker began by insisting that the fact that we remember things is obvious. What requires explanation, he argued, is why we


Shabbos Shuva

Poor Sefer Yoel. It always tends to be ignored when it comes to Trei Asar. Everyone remembers Sefer Yonah from Yom Kippur, Hoshea from “Shuva Yisrael ad Hashem Elokecha,” and Malachi from the last two pissukim which have been referenced as referring to Ba’alei Teshuva. But Sefer Yoel? It appears briefly at the Seder right before the Makkos (the spilling on wine


Grading Like God

In some ways it seems that we, as educators, ignore that the school year begins in Elul. We spend much time learning about the texture of the month and preparing for the Yomim Noraim, but we miss out on the educational model that Elul and the High Holidays present to us as teachers.

Elul is characterized by its focus on Teshuva. In thinking


There Are Children Starving For Your Job

Now that our yeshivot and day schools are back in session, it might be a good opportunity to take a look at the current K-12 school curriculum. I recently wrote a piece entitled, “Tiding the STEM.” I was also interviewed in the Baltimore Jewish Times on the topic. As parents and educators prepare for the upcoming school year, it might be an


Day Schools Deliver Jewish Literacy

A great many articles about day schools, including recent pieces by Gil Graff (“Of Blintzes and Jewish Education“) and Rabbi Josh Cahan (“Is day school worth it? How do you judge?“), take as their starting point the assumption that the main argument in favor of day school—the main reason why parents should send their children there—is its impact on Jewish


Motherhood in the “Lean In” Era

(This article appeared in Lilith magazine––independent, Jewish & frankly feminist––summer 2013. Visit www.Lilith.org for more information and to subscribe. Reprinted with permission.)


Great expense, great expectations

When Ronit Sherwin moved to Delaware in 2011 to become executive director of the University of


Walls Have Ears

We all have our secret lives.

I don’t mean to say that each of us has a sinister side, which we wickedly act out in some deep, dark, private world. What I do mean is that we all act differently when we are alone, or with a few close intimates, than we act when we are out in public, among others.

There is no one who is so behaviorally consistent that


What Threatens The Torah World And The Rabbinate?

In Israel, it is not the IDF “draft decree,” nor the “equality of burden” proposal, nor even budget cuts or the elections for the Chief Rabbinate that threaten the Torah world or the rabbinate in any way. If the elite members of the haredi yeshivot will serve the public in some way, their Torah world will only grow and deepen. This will be especially


You Shall Not Steal WHAT?

“You shall not steal,” the eighth commandment cautions us in the biblical Book of Exodus (20:13). And so, implemented in most civilized societies, most people won’t walk out of department stores with expensive trinkets they inadvertently slipped into their pocket and for which they “forgot” to pay. But the funny thing is, many of us will pluck a few