Author Archives: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Moses Annuls a Vow (Ki Tissa 5780)

Featured image © Yoram Raanan Kol Nidre, the prayer said at the beginning of Yom Kippur, is an enigma wrapped in a mystery, perhaps the strangest text ever to capture the religious imagination. First, it is not a prayer at all. It is not even a confession. It is a dry legal formula for the […]

Rabbi Sacks: ‘We live in an age of armchair morality’ (published in The Sunday Telegraph)

Lord Sacks says the West is in ‘dark’ times, but has faith that young people – Generation Z – will turn things around By Peter Stanford; first published in The Sunday Telegraph on 8 March 2020 It takes a brave man today to publish a book with the title Morality – or a foolish one. In […]

Dressing to Impress – Tetzaveh 5780, Family Edition

Click on the image below to download this week’s Family Edition of Covenant & Conversation for Tetzaveh. The Family Edition is an accompaniment to the main Covenant & Conversation and is aimed at making Rabbi Sacks’ ideas more accessible to older children and teenagers. It includes a number of questions to enhance your Shabbat discussions, […]

Dressing to Impress (Tetzaveh 5780)

Tetzaveh, with its elaborate description of the “sacred vestments” which the Priests and the High Priest wore “for glory and for splendour,” seems to run counter to some fundamental values of Judaism. The vestments were made to be seen. They were intended to impress the eye. But Judaism is a religion of the ear more […]

What Do We Receive When We Give? (Terumah 5780)

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Tell the Israelites to take an offering for Me; take My offering from all whose heart moves them to give” (Ex. 25:1-2). Our parsha marks a turning point in the relationship between the Israelites and God. Ostensibly what was new was the product: the Sanctuary, the travelling home for […]

We will do and we will hear (Mishpatim 5780)

Two words we read towards the end of our parsha – na’aseh ve-nishma, “We will do and we will hear” – are among the most famous in Judaism. They are what our ancestors said when they accepted the covenant at Sinai. They stand in the sharpest possible contrast to the complaints, sins, backslidings and rebellions […]

The Universal and the Particular (Yitro 5780)

The quintessential Jewish expression of thanks, gratitude and acknowledgment is Baruch Hashem, meaning “Thank God,” or “Praise be to the Lord.” Chassidim say of the Baal Shem Tov that he would travel around the little towns and villages of Eastern Europe, asking Jews how they were. However poor or troubled they were, invariably they would […]

Crossing the Sea (Beshallach 5780)

Our parsha begins with an apparently simple proposition: When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the land of the Philistines, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert […]

The Story We Tell About Ourselves (Bo 5780)

Sometimes others know us better than we know ourselves. In the year 2000, a British Jewish research institute came up with a proposal that Jews in Britain be redefined as an ethnic group and not as a religious community. It was a non-Jewish journalist, Andrew Marr, who stated what should have been obvious. He said: […]

The Weighing of the Heart (Vaera 5780)

In this week’s parsha, before even the first plague has struck Egypt, God tells Moses: “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and multiply My miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt.” (Exodus 7:3) The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is referred to no less than twenty times in the course of the story of the Exodus. Sometimes it […]