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skepticism
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Testing for Prophets

Reflecting on the Jewish Rules of Prophet Identification

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Messianic Skepticism

One impression that emerges from reading the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s letters on matters of faith is that deep skepticism and profound belief are not opposites, but rather belong together in a healthy soul. You can see this in the way the Rebbe describes the historical giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, taking a Kuzari-like tack […]

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I Won’t Know What Pittsburgh Means

Sometimes, when I’m bored, I imagine something truly preposterous—a man of space and time. Such a man would not see the world the way we do. I like to think he’d divide things neatly into cubic meters, or perhaps (with a nod to the issue of establishing an absolute frame of reference for such a […]

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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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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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Perhaps the Earth is Flat

Of all the fresh hells we face in our long, chaotic slide into civilizational decay, the rise of the flat-earthers is the most encouraging. Take a moment to appreciate that a whole small demographic has united with the power of the Internet to rebel against the curvature of the earth. This initial blow alone sometimes […]

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Stuck Inside of Elul with the Tishrei Blues Again

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On “Inasmuch”

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My Rebbe Is An Activist, But I’m Not

Even respectable chassidim agree that talk is cheap. I’ve heard them speak about it for hours at farbrengens. However, every respectable chassid also knows that the three garments of the soul, in descending order of truth/reality, are thought, speech, and action. So really, action is cheap. Maybe that’s why Jews love action. Oh, I’m not […]

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My New Year’s Resolution Is To Make No Difference

I resolve, for the New Year, to not “make a difference.” I must accept what I cannot change and find the strength to change the things I can, to paraphrase a wise prayer. I will remember this year that strength is rarely measured in page views, Facebook likes, or marketing budgets. True strength is strength of character. […]

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