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Upcoming Lessons

Introducing you to new planes in spirituality, society, and self-awareness - one week at a time

Different, Yet Equal

Different, Yet Equal

“We’re All the Same!” Is Tempting. It’s Also Premature

Korach’s rebellion that saw him yelling, “We’re all equal, why do you, Moses, get the fancy title?!” can be mistaken for a romantic everyman’s struggle. In a way, Korach really was on to something, but ultimately, he was mistaken. Walk the tightrope of “different but equal” through the lenses of our nation's first uprising of the proletariat.

Week of Jun 26, 2022
“It’s Not My Thing” Is Not an Excuse

“It’s Not My Thing” Is Not an Excuse

When the Hour Demands, Rise to the Occasion

We all have our comfort zones. You’re forgiven for wanting to stay there. But remember this: If you do, you will never grow. Worse yet, when someone else needs you, they’ll receive no answer. A curious plot twist in an ancient desert story with clouds of glory and heavenly mann calls us to get uncomfortable and be there for someone else—even if it’s not “your thing.”

Week of Jul 3, 2022
The Making of a Nation

The Making of a Nation

Determining the Precise Moment the Jewish Nation Was Born

Avraham was the first Jew, right? But wait. What about the events at Mount Sinai, when everyone received the Torah: Wasn’t that the moment of nationhood? Come to think of it, were the Jewish people not born at the Exodus from Egypt? An enthralling roller-coaster ride through the literature explores this important question.

Week of Jul 10, 2022
You Have It in You

You Have It in You

Remember: Your Soul Came First

“I can’t do it, it’s too hard, and I don’t have what it takes!” Sound familiar? It turns out that the prophet Jeremiah said the same thing to G-d Himself. G-d’s answer? A stirring string of verses opening the haftarah imparts the rousing message that your soul came before all the challenges you will ever face, so you have all the firepower you need.

Week of Jul 17, 2022
Chosen Nation

Chosen Nation

Sorting through the Myths

Is it racist to make the claim that we’re the “Chosen Nation”? What does that even mean in the first place? A closer look at the Chosen Land (spoiler: Israel) uncovers an edifying take on this much-abused idea. Far from privileged pretentiousness, to be chosen is a responsibility and a demand.

Week of Jul 24, 2022
Ivory Tower Meets the Proletariat

Ivory Tower Meets the Proletariat

Blending Passion with the Prosaic; Holiness with the Everyday

There are always those who are particularly passionate about religion and G-d, and then there’s . . . everyone else: just typical people trying to do the right thing and get by. Is that enough? Must we all be passionate and holy? Discover a middle ground that is far from middling.

Week of Jul 31, 2022
Good Neighbors Make Good People

Good Neighbors Make Good People

Your Environment Matters. Choose Wisely.

“Jewish law” is a term often thrown around when talking about Judaism. But what, exactly, makes Jewish law “Jewish” per se? A deep look at the moral underpinnings of Jewish law reveals an important lesson to be culled from a ruling about neighbors: you are greatly impacted by your surroundings. Make the environment you wish to see in this world.

Week of Aug 7, 2022
G-d’s Security System

G-d’s Security System

Understanding the Magic of the Mezuzah

Throughout the ages, Jews have affixed a small scroll on the doors of their homes, loudly proclaiming to all, “This is a Jewish home.” Discover the meaning of this important mitzvah, and just how much you can benefit from the mezuzah’s protective quality.

Week of Aug 14, 2022
Not up for Debate

Not up for Debate

Understanding Is Great. Conviction Is Even Better.

A moral compass built on reason alone stands on very shaky ground. No matter how smart and sophisticated you are, it’s possible to justify pretty much anything. The trick is to move into a different zone: the power of conviction. 

Week of Aug 21, 2022
The Universe Is on Your Side

The Universe Is on Your Side

Reinterpreting the Real Rendition of Reality

Witnesseses and testimony typically sound like the stuff of courtrooms and depositions. But a thrilling spin through Jewish law, philosophy, and mysticism yields a surprising conclusion: every Jew is a witness, testifying to a divine reality that puts the universe on the right side of the struggle between good and bad.

Week of Aug 28, 2022
One Love at a Time

One Love at a Time

To Truly Love is to Love Exclusively

The Jewish wedding ceremony is hallowed and joyous. Arguably its most iconic feature is the  ring slipped on the glowing bride’s finger. What is the symbolism of this ancient ritual? A surprising legal journey brings us to the inalienable truth that to truly love is to let go of any past loves, for the heart can only be wide open to one when it is closed off from all others.

Week of Sep 4, 2022
To Refine the Mind and Uplift the Spirit

To Refine the Mind and Uplift the Spirit

What Two Great Chasidic Masters Contributed to the World and to You

Chasidism, its leaders, and its masters are the subject of much fascination. But what really lies at the heart of this movement, and how does it really enrich your daily life? The shared birthday of two of the greatest Chasidic masters to ever live opens a window into the depth and wonder of a revolution that can change your life.

Week of Sep 11, 2022
The Holiness of Wanting a Lot of Stuff

The Holiness of Wanting a Lot of Stuff

A Jew Only Wants to Do What G-d Wants. Owning Stuff Is Part of That.

The High Holidays are awe-inspiring for everyone. Packed into the synagogue, we spend time praying and connecting with G-d. But what do we ask for? Stuff. “Give me this, grant me that. . . .” And it goes on. Is that the best way to spend such a holy time? Asking for stuff? You bet! Discover the real reason why you want anything. It may surprise you.  

Week of Sep 18, 2022
When a Parent Loves Their Child

When a Parent Loves Their Child

Forgiveness Is Never All or Nothing

It’s that time of the year again: the time to fix past wrongdoings and right our ship, going forward. But what if you’re just not ready to fix it all? Is it OK to feel bad, say, like halfway? Instead of complete overhaul, is just small incremental change acceptable? Rabbi Akiva shares his edifying answer.

Week of Sep 25, 2022
Celebrating Life to the Fullest

Celebrating Life to the Fullest

The Simchat Torah Dance: To the Tune of Purpose

Simchat Torah is a holiday famous for dancing and raucous joy. But is this the appropriate way to celebrate the Torah? Discover the true joy of completing the entire Torah reading cycle. It’s not so much about what you have learned, but about the type of life it enables you to lead.

Week of Oct 2, 2022

Previous Lessons

Leave the Past Behind

Leave the Past Behind

The Case against the Apology Tour

You did something wrong. Of that, you’re sure. Does that mean you must forever publicly beat your chest to be accepted in polite society? A closer look at the High Priest’s confession on Yom Kippur tells an empowering story about how we ought to look at our past—and our future.

When You Love Enough to Care

When You Love Enough to Care

Seeing Another Person for Who They Really Are

When you love them, you love them, that’s it. But what happens when you don’t? There’s no love switch, is there? A deep look into the soul of another Jew and what she really wants reveals that yes, indeed there is.

Do It Because It’s The Right Thing to Do

Do It Because It’s The Right Thing to Do

Give Selflessly, Even If You Get Nothing out of It

Suppose you accidentally left a twenty-dollar bill outside and only after the fact you realized that someone who really needed it found it and bought lunch. Do you deserve any credit? From an awkwardly placed verse in a discussion about sacrifices we learn that yes, such a donation may just be the most noble of all.

The Divine Is in the Details

The Divine Is in the Details

Discovering the Majesty of the Minutiae in Judaism

Do it this way. Not larger than an ounce, not smaller than the size of your fist. Check for the kosher symbol, and make sure you eat before this time and make Kiddush after that time. Judaism is hyper-detail-oriented, and some find it more devilish than divine. But that’s a simple misunderstanding of just how great a mitzvah really is.

You’re Feeling Uninspired? Great. Now’s Your Chance

You’re Feeling Uninspired? Great. Now’s Your Chance

Discovering the Spiritual Opportunity of a Human Moment

When things are clicking and you’re feeling inspired, well, it’s just great. But here’s the problem: that’s not reality. Life is messy, challenging, and often leaves you exhausted and uninspired. What to do then? It is precisely then that you have a real chance to finally do what G-d always wanted you—and the entire world—to do.

The Indomitable Power of Torah

The Indomitable Power of Torah

Whatever Your Reason, Keep at It. Eventually It’ll Rope You In

Conventional wisdom would say that if you’re studying something for the wrong reasons, you shouldn’t study it at all. But that’s not what the Torah says. And that’s because there’s a unique dynamic at play: the Torah is G-d’s wisdom; eventually, it’ll awaken something inside of you.

The Case against Passive Parenting

The Case against Passive Parenting

You Can’t Control the Result, but You Can Certainly Control the Process

In one the Bible’s most rousing stories, a weeping childless woman makes a solemn vow to consecrate her son to G-d, should she be so blessed. The woman is Chanah, and the son the prophet Samuel. From what would appear to be a dubiously legal move, we learn that parents must do their utmost to guide their children along the proper path.

Good Is Good, Better Is Better, and Best Is Best

Good Is Good, Better Is Better, and Best Is Best

Why Jews Spend So Much on Their Religion

Jews do Judaism with grandeur. Thousands on an etrog, fine china for Shabbat dinner, and gilded synagogues that match the finest architecture anywhere. But why? Because we understand that when it comes to our relationship with G-d, only the best will do. Anything less may not be lacking, but it is wanting—and we’ll have none of that.

You Matter. Yes, Even You

You Matter. Yes, Even You

G-d Doesn’t Only Pay Attention to Big Things and Important People

“Omnipresent” is a word thrown around as a name for G-d, which is a fancy way of saying, “He’s everywhere and always paying attention.” It’s a great name: G-d really is paying attention to everything He created, and He cares very much about what they do—including you.

The Real Reality

The Real Reality

When Keeping Your Commitments Gets Rough, Remember What’s Real

In days of old, the Jewish calendar was determined by the High Court based on the sighting of a new moon. In a radical and extremely counterintuitive law, we read that the court had the power to proclaim a new month even when the moon wasn’t yet seen; in other words, the courts could dictate reality. Discover how you, too, can dictate the “real” reality.

You Are in G-d’s Hands: Can You Believe It?

You Are in G-d’s Hands: Can You Believe It?

You Are Not Entirely the Product of Your Own Success

Who doesn’t worry about finances? In an ever-changing economy with so much uncertainty, even those with “stable” jobs are being forced to reckon with a queasy sense of worry. By looking to our ancestors who harvested miraculous manna in the desert, we can find much-needed stability: trust in G-d.

All Access

All Access

Exploring Judaism’s Approach to Mitzvah Observance for the Disabled

Judaism is rich with values, teachings, and . . . practices. Many don’t even think about their physical ability to fulfill those practices, but what about those who physically cannot? Is the mitzvah of tefilin not for someone without an arm? Is someone with impaired hearing denied access to the beauty of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah? Of course not! Discover how.

Put on the Blinders

Put on the Blinders

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize and Don’t Stop Moving

A dry, legal, and highly technical clause of Jewish finance law is picked apart in a psychological/religious analysis. We emerge with powerful lessons for maintaining the sense of dignity and perseverance we need to power through our intended mission in life.

Judaism: A Religious or National Project?

Judaism: A Religious or National Project?

Three Sides of the Same Coin

There’s much chatter on this question. Throw in the mix the many other possibilities of what “Judaism” may or may not be. So, what is it, after all? The story of the nascent Jewish nation emerging from Egypt, entering the Holy Land, and finally building a Temple for G-d has some answers.

When’s Your REAL Birthday?

When’s Your REAL Birthday?

Your Birthday Celebrates Realized Potential. Go Ahead and Realize Even More

People love celebrating; yahrtzeits not so much. Surprisingly, while the birthday and yahrtzeit of our first leader, Moshe, occurred on the same date, it is technically only his passing that is commemorated. Why? Because your true birthday is more about what you’ve done than about what you can do.

Embracing Opposition

Embracing Opposition

How to Look Adversity in the Face and Declare, “I’m Not Afraid of You!”

Are you experiencing any opposition lately? Are things just not working out? What do you tell yourself to power through? From the tragic story of the Jews sinning with the Golden Calf to a fascinating tale about a bull talking to Elijah the prophet, widen and deepen your perspective to embrace those challenges and emerge all the better.

I’ll do It For You

I’ll do It For You

The Secret Glue to Sustainable Relationships

What, really is the secret to long-lasting and committed relationships? All human relationships are but a mirror of our relationship with G-d, and so, we arrive at this simple conclusion: when you’re doing it for each other, and not so much with each other, that’s when you know your connection has lasting power.

There’s a Temple Inside of You. Go Ahead and Find It

There’s a Temple Inside of You. Go Ahead and Find It

Discovering the Meaning of the Deepest Parts of Your Soul

The Temple and its predecessor, the Tabernacle, hold a very prominent place in Judaism. But they were destroyed millennia ago. What relevance do they have today? A fascinating story of a stubborn sage, who refused to budge until he received an answer from G-d, furnishes the answer.

When It Comes to Judaism, It’s Personal

When It Comes to Judaism, It’s Personal

You Did a Mitzvah? Time to Throw a Party!

Some throw parties when they graduate college, others for a promotion, while others for their birthday. But when was the last time you attended a party that celebrated, say, finishing a Torah study course, or a year of lighting Shabbat candles? An obscure celebration of wood donations in the Temple by a select few families shows the way.

Going the Extra Mile

Going the Extra Mile

When You Care, It Makes All the Difference

No one likes being forced into doing things, and when we are, the results are always a bit lackluster. As this class reveals, the Purim story brings the Jewish story full circle, exposing just how important it is to not only do what you must, but to really care about it, too.

So You Think You’re Perfect? Think Again.

So You Think You’re Perfect? Think Again.

There’s Always Something to Repair

Apologizing and acknowledging our own shortcomings is always hard, and if we’re honest with ourselves, sometimes we’re just not willing to go through the pain of that acknowledgment. The always-available purification ashes in the Temple tell a very different story—one of empowerment and positivity.

The Case for Spiritual Adrenaline

The Case for Spiritual Adrenaline

Understanding the Unnatural Nature of Time Itself

Rosh Hashanah is in the autumn, right? Well, sort of. There’s a case to be made for the month of Nissan, just before Passover, being considered the “beginning of the year.” What’s the point of this alternate beginning? It’s about mapping an unnatural and miraculous way of being onto the very course of time itself. Surprisingly, for a Jew, it’s a happy partnership.

Redemption Is Never Over

Redemption Is Never Over

Reliving the Exodus in Real Time

Family and friends gather around the seder table, and once again, we do the same thing we’ve been doing for millennia. Is there anything interesting or personal about this ritual that can elevate it to stardom? A closer look at the language used in the Haggadah exposes the secret of the Exodus: It never really finished. It’s waiting for you.

Torah and Science: Best of Friends

Torah and Science: Best of Friends

The Synthesis Runs a Lot Deeper Than You Think. Just Do it Right

Many have grappled with the apparently irreconcilable differences between religion and science; “Religion is the domain of faith; science, that of reason,” is a common attitude. A new read of when G-d disrupts a grand feat of modern engineering teaches a refreshing approach.

Lawless Leaders vs. Moral Mentors

Lawless Leaders vs. Moral Mentors

How Important Is Character to Being a Top Dog?

When a leader’s star begins to rise, people tend to scrutinize their character. But how important are their personal morals anyway? After all, the main thing is getting the job done, right? The lengthy narrative of Abraham’s life story clues us in.

A Well of Love

A Well of Love

Sustainable Love Is a Quiet Affair

To be “in love” is to be generous, wide open, and full of dreams. That’s a great first step—but it’s only the first step. Abraham, the first Jew, was a man of kindness, yet the wells of emotion he dug were ultimately stuffed up. It took his quiet, disciplined son, Isaac, to redig them and open them forever. It’s much the same in our lives, too.

Lose Your Audience and Feel Good About It

Lose Your Audience and Feel Good About It

Sometimes, It’s Best to Shrink Your Audience to Amplify Your Message

Was there ever something you felt strongly about, yet kept to yourself for fear of losing your audience? It’s a tough call each time, and the divergent legacies of Abraham and his wife Sarah are quite instructional. Ultimately, it’s Sarah who wins the day.

This Holy Land Is Your Land

This Holy Land Is Your Land

The Uniqueness of Israel and Our Special Right to It

Debated in the halls of the UN and fought for with much spilled blood, Israel’s Jewish ownership is contested time and again. From the beginning of time itself, G-d designated this unique land to stand apart from any other, and gave it to His people. It’s time to take a better look.

A Jerusalem Jew in Times Square

A Jerusalem Jew in Times Square

You Want to Make an Impact? Be Real

Are you a worldly Jew or a Jew in this world? What is your primary orientation? Jacob’s brash and forceful reply to his conniving uncle reveals that it wasn’t his business acumen that was so impressive; instead, it was his zealous commitment to his ideals. We can do the same.

Summon Up All Your Resources and Win the War

Summon Up All Your Resources and Win the War

Lessons from Frederick the Great on How to Be the Best Version of Yourself

Have you come up short in any personal battles lately? Jacob’s tactics against his ruthless brother Esau all the way down to a great Prussian military leader teach us a timeless tactic: don’t be a one-trick pony; focus all you’ve got on one front, and you’ll win the war.

Expand Your Life Story. Also, Be Selective

Expand Your Life Story. Also, Be Selective

The Characters and Events Shape the Conclusion

What keeps your air conditioner working, your orange juice pulp-free, and your coffee grounds out of your cup? A filter. Your life’s story needs one, too: you should embrace, expand, and engage with as much as possible, and when you do, make sure your filter is extra fine.

It’s Dark Out There? Look Again

It’s Dark Out There? Look Again

Chanukah Celebrates the Quest for Light. Leave the Speeches for Later

Families gathered together in raucous joy to hear the story of the holiday. Sound familiar? Yes—for Purim, not Chanukah. You want to know why there’s no Chanukah Megillah? Because when you’re busy blazing up the darkness, there’s no time for stories.

Don’t Tell Me Anything until I Know You Care

Don’t Tell Me Anything until I Know You Care

Joseph’s Master Class in Effective Communication

Arguably one of the most dramatic narratives in the Torah, the showdown between Joseph and his brothers and the ensuing emotions after Joseph’s big reveal contain timeless lessons for anyone looking to up their communications game.

A Life of Worth is a Life Worth Living

A Life of Worth is a Life Worth Living

Life’s Hard? Welcome to the Chance of Your Lifetime

“If anyone would offer to sell me a moment of future suffering for a billion dollars, I wouldn’t buy,” a famous rabbi once said. “But if anyone would propose to buy a moment of my past suffering for a billion dollars, I wouldn’t sell either.” Discover his secret.

Living in “DeNile”

Living in “DeNile”

The Perils of Overreliance on Self, and What to Think Instead

Is the “self-made millionaire” the ultimate success story we should all look up to? Is everything really in our control, our dreams limited only by our capacity to carry them out? Not so fast. That’s an Egyptian mentality. Baby Moses floating in a basket down the Nile has a very different message to share.