This is not the time to extinguish the many institutions that have risen up to create a civil society. The arts nourish the soul, schools nurture the potential of our youth and promote the scientific and creative research that will secure our future.
Parshat Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9) One of the biggest misnomers in the Jewish vocabulary is the translation of tzedakah as "charity." This mistranslation has gone on for so long in the American Jewish community that it's a hard habit to break.
Each night before retiring, the great Chasidic master Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav would make a list. At the end of a long day, he would write down all the wrongs he had committed -- against other people, against God, against himself. Nachman would read the list over and over again, with increasing levels of agitation and remorse, until he welled up with sorrow.
In this week's Torah portion, the Israelites are encouraged -- commanded really -- to write something down.
In Ki Tetze, we are given many mitzvot to do -- 613, actually. What's a mitzvah? A commandment to do a good deed, or to follow directions to perform a certain ritual. As a Jew, it is important to do both. We become role models for the world in our acts of charity, and we remember who we are and where we came from through our ritual.
For The Kids
Deeply ingrained ideas die hard. This week's parasha,however, helps to ring the death knell for one such idea. Many of us have been trained to believe that the Torah's commandments can be broken down into two basic categories.