Are We Architects of Our Own fate?

Photograph of Tamar Marvin
by Tamar Marvin, PhD
posted on August 21, 2019
A central theme of Parashat Eikev is contingency: that a person’s fate is predicated on their actions, and the future is not yet written. A core problem occupying medieval philosophers, including the classical Torah commentators, the question of causality continues to fascinate—and elude—us today. In our own time, it tends to be scientists who explore the way that cause and effect play out in time. Physicists debate the linearity of time, with some advancing the block universe theory in which causality is an illusion created by human cognitive processes. Read more...

Multiple Motives for Our Actions

Headshot of Elliot Dorff
by Rabbi Elliot Dorff, PhD
posted on August 14, 2019
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
Why do I show up to teach my classes at American Jewish University?  For a whole variety of reasons.  I love teaching.  I signed a contract to do so (I promised).  I owe it to the students, who paid tuition.  I am being paid.  Responses from students challenge me to think in new ways, thus enriching and expanding my scholarship and writing.  I am deeply committed to Judaism for reasons that I have thought about a lot, and I am glad to be training the next generation of rabbis and lay leaders for the Jewish community.  I want people to think well of me, that I am responsible, etc., etc.  At Read more...

On Zealotry and the Pursuit of Peace

Headshot of Rabbi Adam Greenwald
by Rabbi Adam Greenwald
posted on July 25, 2019
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
Our Torah portion this week recalls a man named Pinchas, the great-nephew of Moses, who engages in an act of vigilante violence. The Israelites are in the midst of a plague, brought down by God as penance for rampant acts of sexual immorality. Pinchas responds by capturing a couple in flagrante delicto, and executing them-- stabbing the pair of them through with his spear. Read more...