The sliding scale of justice (d’var Torah: Parashat R’eh)
I once went to watch a double murder trial at the Old Bailey. It was a fascinating afternoon, watching a room full of people busily poring over a sequence of events from a couple of years earlier that will only have lasted two or three minutes […]
Some time ago in Paris, the summer grey sky was acting like a sodden sponge, dripping on the big glass roof of The Musée de l’Homme in Paris. I was there standing with my four year old daughter in front of a huge dinosaur skeleton.
There was, in the image of this little girl dressed […]
A rabbinic story…
One evening, Rabbi Ishmael and Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah were eating dinner together when it was time to say the evening Shema. Rabbi Elazar was standing up, but when the time came he laid down to say the Shema. Rabbi Ishmael was already reclining but he moved and sat upright to say […]
This week’s reading is the first sidra in Deuteronomy, called Devarim, which is also the Hebrew name for the entire book. In Deuteronomy 1:16, we read the words of Moses as he addresses the people, reminding of them of what he had said in the past (in the translation from the Etz Hayim Torah […]
The Fragility of Progress
When the news came in, I was sitting on the sofa watching the TV with my mum. I was in my late teens, back home from my first term at university.
The government had just legalised IVF for lesbians. It was the crowning glory of a raft of legislation passed by a […]
A Win-Win deal ? Really?
There is a modern expression which could be said as easily by a Head of state or a travelling salesman in Medina. We are doing “this”, and it will be win-win”… “This”? Of course, “this” is the perspective of the one who made the offer, the same one who also […]
At the beginning of this week’s parashah, God awards Pinchas, son of Elazar the Priest, a ‘covenant of peace’ (Num. 25.12). This is rather ironic, given that Pinchas has literally just committed one of the most despicable acts of violence in the Torah. Seeing Zimri (a Shimonite) taking Cozbi (a Midianite woman) into the […]
Parashat Balak: The Sword Between Our Eyes
This week’s Torah portion, Balak, tells the story of the prophet or sorcerer Balaam. Having just witnessed the defeat of the Amorites by the sword of Israel, the Moabite King Balak, fearing a similar confrontation and conclusion, summons Balaam to curse Israel. The Torah provides little biographical […]