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Posts Tagged Ethics

Talking about the way we talk about Israel

Friday, January 23 at 5:45 pm Ben Murane, Northwest Director of Outreach at the New Israel Fund, will share stories of the good work being done by the good organizations which constitute half of Israel’s citizenship – stories that don’t make the news. As part of our ongoing exploration of how we as American Jews relate to Israel, we seek to learn from those who have first hand experience, as we choose our own thoughtful steps in the midst of the passion that the subject inspires. Join us on erev Shabbat  to learn from Ben Murane, the New Israel Fund North West Director of Outreach. Shir Tikvah has committed to bringing you different opportunities to learn about Israel in an atmosphere of makhloket, “sacred arguing”, in which we take care not only with our facts, but are also careful to share them respectfully and to listen mindfully.

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Shabbat VaYera: How Are Jews To Be in the World?

How are Jews meant to be in the world? The answer suggested by Jewish ethics is that with every step and with every word, we are to seek the presence of G-d. That does not mean that we are to treat the world as a game of hide-and-seek, but rather that we are to consider the impact of every word and act. Will this thing that I am about to say, that I am burning to say, bring the Presence more fully into being? Will this act that I plan to undertake bring more wholeness into my life and that of my family, my friends, my companions in community? This week we are given a clear message about the intersection of ethical behavior and the Presence of G-d, as our ancestors struggled to understand it. We have arrived, this week, at the parashat hashavua called VaYera, “[G-d] appeared”. In this […]

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Shabbat Ki Tetze: There Are No Small Details

Judaism is full of lofty ideals and ethical standards, but if you only know your religion in this way you are missing out on a layer of Jewishness which is much closer to home. (No, not the “cultural Judaism” layer of eating bagels….) It’s the “what do I do right now?” layer, what we might call practical Jewish ethics – or what Rabbi Louis Jacobs called “habit forming Jewish ethics”. Musar, a classic form of Jewish practical ethics, was created by Rabbi Israel Salantar in 19th century Lithuania “with the aim of promoting greater inwardness, religious piety, and ethical conduct” (to learn more click here). The general idea is to avoid creating Jews who keep kosher but act unethically; that is to say, they keep the halakha of practice but not of interpersonal relationships with other people and with the earth. The mitzvot of such relationship responsibility are there, but Jewish study did not focus upon them in the average Lithuanian yeshiva […]

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Shabbat Parah 5774: How Do You Justify Your Ethics?

Shalom Shir Tikvah Learning Community, This week’s parashat hashavua, called Shemini, is once again embellished with a special reading for a special Shabbat, Shabbat Parah. It is one of several which precede Pesakh and, by their themes, remind us to prepare for the great Festival in certain necessary ways. The very fact that we read an extra text of the Torah signals the surpasing importance of the Festival of Matzah. Compare it to the High Holy Days, which are only preceded by special Haftarah readings, and you can see that the Pesakh holy day period is historically of far greater significance. Why? and how did Pesakh, admittedly still important, lose ground to Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur? (If you don’t believe that it did, consider your own feelings toward the two holy day periods: which one would you assume was more important? A special meal with a long story, or an […]

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