Open Hearts. Open Minds. Strong Values.


Posted on November 12th, 2018

Genesis 28:10−32:3 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 

Out of the Depths

What did Jacob add to the Jewish experience? What is it that we find in him that we do not find to the same measure in Abraham and Isaac? Why is it his name – Jacob/Israel – that we carry in our identity? How was it that all his children stayed within the faith? Is there something of him in our spiritual DNA? There are many answers. I explore one here, and another next week in Vayishlach.

Read & Listen. 


Posted on November 5th, 2018

Genesis 25:19−28:9 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 

Why Isaac? Why Jacob?

Why Isaac, not Ishmael? Why Jacob, not Esau? These are among the most searing questions in the whole of Judaism.

It is impossible to read Genesis 21, with its description of how Hagar and her son were cast out into the wilderness, how their water ran out, how Hagar placed Ishmael under a bush and sat at a distance so she would not see him die, without feeling intensely for both of them, mother and child. They are both crying. The Torah tells us that God heard Ishmael’s tears and sent an angel to comfort Hagar, show her a well of water, and assure her that God would make her son “a great nation” (Gen. 21:18) – the very promise he gave Abraham himself at the start of his mission (Gen. 12:2).

Read & Listen. 

Chayei Sarah

Posted on October 29th, 2018

Genesis 23:1−25:18 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 

The World’s Oldest Man 

On 11 August 2017, the world’s oldest man passed away, just a month short of his 114th birthday – making him one of the ten longest-lived men since modern record-keeping began. If you knew nothing else about him than this, you would be justified in thinking that he had led a peaceful life, spared of fear, grief and danger.

The actual truth is the opposite. The man in question was Yisrael Kristal, Holocaust survivor. Born in Poland in 1903, he survived four years in the Lodz ghetto, and was then transported to Auschwitz. In the ghetto, his two children died. In Auschwitz, his wife was killed. When Auschwitz was liberated, he was a walking skeleton weighing a mere 37 kilos. He was the only member of his family to survive.

Read & Listen.


Posted on October 22nd, 2018

Genesis 18:1–22:24 



Worth Celebrating

And the child (Yitzchok) grew and was (vayigmal) weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Yizchok was (higamel) weaned. (Breishis 21:8)

Why did Avraham make such a great celebration to honor the day that Yitzchok did not need to nurse from his mother Sara? Why does the Holy Torah bother to record it? Why did Avraham not make a party or a feast upon any other occasion, like winning the war of the four kings and the five kings? That was certainly a great accomplishment! What was insufficient about that? What’s so great about this?

Continue reading.

Lech Lecha

Posted on October 15th, 2018

Genesis 12:1−17:27 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 

The Courage not to Conform

Leaders lead. That does not mean to say that they don’t follow. But what they follow is different from what most people follow. They don’t conform for the sake of conforming. They don’t do what others do merely because others are doing it. They follow an inner voice, a call. They have a vision, not of what is, but of what might be. They think outside the box. They march to a different tune.

Read & Listen.