All posts by Leslie Cook

Torah Study: Re’eh 2017

Overcoming Our Egos

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said that human beings come to God through both motivations: “A man totally unconcerned with his self is dead.  But a man exclusively concerned with his self is a beast.” That human beings naturally engage in this world through both our reflective and transitive selves. From both our ego-driven as well as our selfless-inspired souls. Our challenge is to overcome egocentrism and selfishness.  To actualize the Awe of Heaven. “The greatest beauty,” wrote Rabbi Heschel, “grows at the greatest distance from the ego.”

Torah Study: Eikev 2017

Living with G-d’s Grace

The Israelite’s prolonged wandering in the desert served as a learning-experience: that whether in the desert or once settled as a sovereign nation, their very existence is ultimately dependent on God’s grace, “one does not live by bread alone, but by everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

Torah Study: Va’etchanan 2017

Making Time for Holiness

On Shabbat, we actualize the Jewish tradition’s idea of holiness, kedusha. That what constitutes holiness is not a sacred object, place, person, ritual or practice. But rather, we make the times of our life holy through the distinction between work and rest. The distinction between the things that are ours and the things that belong to God.

Torah Study: Matot-Masai 2017

The Promised Land

Zion is aspirational. Beyond the physical land. Beyond a specific place, a particular piece of real estate. That the story of arrival to the Promised Land was never about arrival. That as with all things Holy, Kedusha in Hebrew, what matters is to bring Divinity into our lives. And so, regardless of whether we live in Jerusalem, Paris or Chicago, we must ask ourselves, ask of our community: Now that we are here, what do we have to do in order to make our lives matter? Holy? The Promise Land, after all, is a state of mind.