Here is an idea from this week's commentary essay on #Yitro: 🇬🇧 bit.ly/2SjZX4o / 🇮🇱 bit.ly/2SoM8C5 / 🇪🇸 bit.ly/38jToEM / 🇫🇷 bit.ly/38qkn1m / 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦Family Edition bit.ly/2OP8lXE / Listen spoti.fi/33Npq9s. #ShabbatShalom Image
Why does #Judaism distinguish between the universality of God and the particularity of our relationship with Him? Answer: because this helps us solve the single greatest problem humanity has faced since earliest times. How can I recognise the dignity and integrity of the ‘other’?
History and biology have written into the human mind a capacity for altruism toward the people like us, and aggression toward the people not like us. We are good, they are bad.
We are innocent, they are guilty. We have truth, they have lies. We have God on our side, they do not. Many crimes of nation against nation are due to this propensity. Which is why Tanach teaches otherwise.
It is hard to think of a more compelling principle for the 21st century. The great problems humanity faces – climate change, economic inequality, cyberwarfare, artificial intelligence – are global, but our most effective political agencies are at most national.
There is a mismatch between our problems and the available solutions. We need to find a way of combining our universal humanity with our cultural and religious particularity.
God is universal. Therefore humanity, created in His image, is universal. But the revelation and covenant at Mount Sinai were particular. They belong to our [Jewish] story, not the universal story of humankind.
I believe this ability to be both particular in our identity and universal in our commitment to the human future is one of the most important messages we, as Jews, have to deliver in the 21st century.
We are different, but we are human. Therefore let us work together to solve the problems that can only be solved together.

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More from @rabbisacks

Sep 6, 2021
As we approach Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the start of the Jewish year, here are ten short ideas from Rabbi Sacks zt"l which might help you focus your davening and ensure you have a meaningful and transformative experience.
(1) Life is short. However much life expectancy has risen, we will not, in one lifetime, be able to achieve everything we might wish to achieve. This life is all we have. So the question is: How shall we use it well?
(2) Life itself, every breath we take, is the gift of God. Life is not something we may take for granted. If we do, we will fail to celebrate it. Yes, we believe in life after death, but it is in life before death that we truly find human greatness.
Read 12 tweets
Oct 1, 2020
THREAD -> #Succot is the festival of insecurity. It is the candid acknowledgment that there is no life without risk, yet we can face the future without fear when we know we are not alone. Image
God is with us, in the rain that brings blessings to the earth, in the love that brought the universe and us into being and in the resilience of spirit that allowed a small and vulnerable people to outlive the greatest empires the world has ever known.
Succot reminds us that God’s glory was present in the small, portable Tabernacle that Moses and the Israelites built in the desert even more emphatically than in Solomon’s Temple with all its grandeur. A temple can be destroyed. But a succah, broken, can be rebuilt tomorrow.
Read 9 tweets
Sep 30, 2020
THREAD -> #Succot is the time we ask the most profound question of what makes a life worth living.
Having prayed on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to be written in the Book of Life, Kohelet (the book we read on Succot) forces us to remember how brief life actually is, and how vulnerable. “Teach us rightly to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).
What matters is not how long we live, but how intensely we feel that life is a gift we repay by giving to others. Surely this is a message that resonates even more forcefully this year as we approach Succot in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Read 6 tweets
Sep 29, 2020
THREAD -> More than any other festival, #Succot (which begins on Friday evening) represents the dual character of Jewish faith. We believe in the universality of God, together with the particularity of Jewish history and identity. Image
All nations need rain (which we pray for on Succot). We are all part of nature. We are all dependent on the complex ecology of the created world.
We are all threatened by climate change, global warming, the destruction of rain forests, the overexploitation of non-renewable energy sources and the mass extinction of species.
Read 9 tweets
Sep 26, 2020
There is an old story that I find incredibly moving and powerful, particularly as we approach #YomKippur in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic (and which appears in my 'Ceremony & Celebration' educational resource for Yom Kippur -> rabbisacks.info/2E0XMhR). Image
One Yom Kippur, the Baal Shem Tov was praying together with his students, and he had a worrying sense that the prayers were not getting through, and the harsh heavenly decree against the Jewish people was not being overturned.
As Ne’ila approached, and with it the final opportunity for the Jewish people to avert this harsh judgement, he and his students increased their fervour and passion in their prayers, but to no avail.
Read 12 tweets
Sep 25, 2020
“Wherever you find God's greatness,” said Rabbi Yohanan, “there you will find His humility.” And wherever you find true humility, there you will find greatness.
That is what #YomKippur is about: finding the courage to let go of the need for self-esteem that fuels our passion for self-justification, our blustering claim that we are in the right when in truth we know we are often in the wrong.
Most national literatures, ancient and modern, record a people's triumphs. Jewish literature records our failures, moral and spiritual. No people has been so laceratingly honest in charting its shortcomings. In Tanakh there is no one without sin.
Read 10 tweets

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