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Originally on Hevria
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Tell Me What These Words Mean

The 3rd member of a Sukkot series. Member the 1st. Member the 2nd. “Every single thing one sees or hears is an instruction for his conduct in the service of G-d. This is the idea of avoda, service: to comprehend and discern in all things a way in which to serve G-d.” -The Holy Baal […]

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Objective Reality Is For Meeting G-d

“Facts don’t care about your feelings,” some Jews say. I do wonder, though. If facts don’t care about your feelings, why is Rosh Hashana called the “day of the beginning of your action”? In many other words: Once upon a time, centuries ago, few would have recognized a real facts/feelings distinction, if “facts” mean shared […]

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An Elul Lie

Elul. Twenty grinning bosses frocked and leering come to tame you with horns of Gabriel blowing incantations you first heard fall like silver neutron hatchets from your mother’s mouth to pin your heart to the cracked timbers of your cage. They know naught of the power you peel from the night hidden from all eyes. […]

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Why History’s Greatest Philosopher Lived in Liadi

I am only a beginner student of philosophy, so when I say the Alter Rebbe is the greatest thinker to ever live, it has nothing of the authority of Yitro, who chose G-d after worshipping all idols on the face of the earth. Really, I am giving a considered opinion that may be wrong but […]

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Ben Zoma The Skeptic

Perhaps Ben Zoma’s words in Chapter 4 of Pirkei Avot are not as simple as they appear. The sage seems to be explaining why we should not seek wealth, wisdom, and strength in the traditional senses. You can make all the money in the world, but until you’re satisfied, you’re not rich. You can lift […]

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The G-d of Nothing

Imagine you are an ancient pagan worshipping spirits, the forces of nature, or mathematical abstractions. You have no problem saying what your god is. He’s this dude with pale blue eyes and a massive hammer. He can turn into a magnificent swan. She is the perfect triangle transcending all worldly triangularity. What does it mean […]

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Reckoning With Kabbalah

If G-d is any, He is One. Not the one of counting or one of many, but the One and Only, alone. He has no parts, no aspects, no faculties, no cause. His one is truly infinite. He is not the unit for addition; there is no room for a second; nothing additional can exist. […]

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Our Mystic Generation

Every year, Reb Shlomo ‘the Yellow’, the melamed of Nevel, would walk to Lubavitch to spend the Simchat Torah festival with his rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer. Even in his later years when his strength had failed him, he refused to climb onto a wagon for even a minute; every step of the way was taken […]

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May G-d Rescue Us From Our Solutions

Based on my everyday experience, it makes sense that the creation of the world is incomprehensible. What is this thing doing here? Why is it built on a system of soul and body, a painful contradiction seemingly unjustified by anything in the universe? Sure, there’s baseball and hating Michael Chabon, but no joy in this […]

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Why the Rebbe Stayed in America

The Lubavitcher Rebbe is a prophet. Time and again we ask him, respectful and pleading, “Why won’t you visit Israel? Why won’t you move to Israel? How can a leader of world Jewry avoid the Holy Land?” Then the Rebbe’s response. He smiles, reminds us of the laws that would not permit his return if […]

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