Archive: David Wolpe
When a member of the government announces that an entire religious tradition is under suspicion the effect is not to foster trust and fidelity. Rather it feeds into the stereotype in the Muslim world that America is opposed to the Islamic tradition as a whole.
By David Wolpe | March 7, 2011; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (10)
Everyone knows that Hollywood has an unsavory side. Celebrities show that darkness, too. When enraged, people reach for the hatred that already has a nesting place in their souls.
By David Wolpe | February 25, 2011; 12:24 PM ET | Comments (21)
All people of goodwill, and surely all people of faith, wait with measured hope.
By David Wolpe | February 14, 2011; 08:34 PM ET | Comments (2)
Of course the talks must focus on human rights. But rights are not the freeing of dissidents alone. Rights cannot be divorced from economics. Rights cannot be divorced from plagiarism, internet access, governmental relations and overall economic health.
By David Wolpe | January 18, 2011; 09:58 PM ET | Comments (3)
Yes, America is exceptional. Exceptional does not mean perfect; exceptional does not mean ideal; exceptional does not mean unimprovable.
By David Wolpe | November 29, 2010; 03:16 PM ET | Comments (3)
In the Talmud one rabbi offers the comprehensive prayer that he is thankful to be able to give thanks.
By David Wolpe | November 22, 2010; 11:44 AM ET | Comments (2)
If God is in the election business, then God has eclectic tastes. Not only does God aid democrats, republicans and independents, seemingly the Creator of the Universe is friendly to communists, tyrants and corrupt officials - all of whom have periodically claimed victory at the ballot box.
By David Wolpe | October 4, 2010; 06:41 PM ET | Comments (3)
The decline in religious literacy may be symptomatic of other declines, but no less sad for that. Judaism elevates the ideal of study; indeed it is probably the only religious tradition that envisages God studying. A rabbinic legend has it that in heaven the blessed sit around God and study together.
By David Wolpe | September 28, 2010; 07:02 PM ET | Comments (6)
I am not tossing flowers in Christopher's path because he is sick. To do so is dishonorable and besides, he would detest the practice. Friction keeps him warm.
By David Wolpe | September 21, 2010; 10:41 AM ET | Comments (1)
The struggle for the soul of religion today is which will prevail - the religion that emphasizes divisions or the religion that bridges them? On that question hangs not only peace in the Middle East, but in the world.
By David Wolpe | September 13, 2010; 04:28 PM ET | Comments (15)
It is not easy to live with others. It never has been.
By David Wolpe | September 7, 2010; 01:50 PM ET | Comments (3)
The focus on the President's religion is unfortunate and unproductive.
By David Wolpe | August 30, 2010; 10:33 AM ET | Comments (2)
For what it is worth, here is what I sincerely believe - there should be no Islamic center near Ground Zero, and of course they should build it. Clear now?
By David Wolpe | August 19, 2010; 01:55 PM ET | Comments (3)
Spirituality is at the core of religion, but alone it is not enough. Like love, religion is enacted feeling. It is emotion made flesh; it is not only having an experience, but doing a mitzvah -- a deed of lovingkindness.
By David Wolpe | August 2, 2010; 02:56 PM ET | Comments (12)
Religious traditions are complex, ramified cultures. They are not checklists. To adopt a tradition is to orient one's soul toward the universe. That is far easier to accomplish if both parents represent the same tradition.
By David Wolpe | July 26, 2010; 10:03 PM ET | Comments (1)
We do peace loving Muslims no honor by refusing to properly label their violent brethren. Someone who targets innocent people in the name of Islam is an Islamic terrorist. To say otherwise is a cowardly evasion.
By David Wolpe | July 12, 2010; 04:02 PM ET | Comments (12)
Religions are not the same. One claims a man can become God; another claims the distance between human and God is unbridgeable. One claims that God is not personal; another insists that God is personal. Differences can be multiplied. They are real; they are significant; they are not ultimate, however.
By David Wolpe | July 6, 2010; 02:40 PM ET | Comments (12)
It seems clear to me that atheism is these days as fundamentalist, often abusive, as some of the forms of faith it derides. No longer is it an honest difference of opinion. Religion is consistently portrayed as a bankrupt, corrupt, evil system.
By David Wolpe | June 22, 2010; 09:48 AM ET | Comments (25)
An execution is not a sporting event. It is not a sighting of Lindsay Lohan at the local Barney's. The attorney general's behavior is bluntly, shockingly thoughtless. Tweeting an execution? From a state official? What have we come to?
By David Wolpe | June 21, 2010; 02:28 PM ET | Comments (4)
Something clearly went terribly awry in the attempt to stop the flotilla. But -- if you were the government responsible for people opposed by fighters nourished on a poisonous, unremitting hatred for you, wouldn't you want a peek?
By David Wolpe | June 7, 2010; 07:48 PM ET | Comments (14)
Religion properly understood is filled with exhortations to care for this world. It is God's gift. We are the world's stewards. Trampling our inheritance, befouling it, destroying it, contradicts everything faith promises and promotes.
By David Wolpe | June 1, 2010; 12:32 PM ET | Comments (1)
Freedom of expression means that I can object to your characterization of my religion; I can dispute it; I can be furious over it. But I may not threaten you because of it. Religious conviction exempts no one from human kindness. Properly understood, it should reinforce it.
By David Wolpe | May 3, 2010; 06:36 PM ET | Comments (11)
The very first commandment in the Torah is to have sex. Sexuality is a powerful way of recognizing the image of God in another. For it is a kind of human devekut - clinging, the same word the mystics use for clinging to God.
By David Wolpe | April 20, 2010; 06:02 PM ET | Comments (3)
The focus should not be on the media. The media took no vow. If they are biased, they are biased. The church should be honestly and completely investigating itself and proclaiming its shame and regret from the rooftops.
By David Wolpe | April 5, 2010; 10:15 PM ET | Comments (8)
To use the sufferings of the Jews as an analogy for the church's public discomfort -- given our painful shared history -- is indescribably tactless.
By David Wolpe | April 2, 2010; 03:19 PM ET | Comments (125)
We would not have imagined this world, after all, before we entered it. Who would have guessed mountains and eyes and tuna fish and tables and fossils and crock-pots and libraries and clouds? Heaven is, quite literally, unimaginable.
By David Wolpe | March 20, 2010; 11:42 PM ET | Comments (1)
If one discovers that belief has changed, it is a simple obligation to explain that to the congregation. A person of conscience and probity will take the repercussions.
By David Wolpe | March 16, 2010; 12:05 PM ET | Comments (2)
When we ask why bad things happen to good people, we have to recognize the consequences envisaged by that question. Imagine good things always happened to good people and bad things always happened to bad people.
By David Wolpe | January 19, 2010; 02:41 PM ET | Comments (5)
God's dignity is way beyond the need for legal defense. As an alternative to prosecution, religious people should take it upon themselves to act in a way that validates what they claim about God.
By David Wolpe | January 5, 2010; 02:29 PM ET | Comments (1)
The story of the year is the great religious story of our time: the struggle of religions, particularly Islam, to choose an inclusive, tolerant attitude toward those outside the faith (and toward dissenters or those deemed heretics within). The alternative is an intolerance that will destroy us.
By David Wolpe | December 27, 2009; 11:36 AM ET | Comments (183)
Does bombing Taliban enclaves in the mountains of Afghanistan offer comforting clarity of Normandy? Of course not. So the question is not - is there a just war? There have been and, alas, there will be again. The question must be - is this war just?
By David Wolpe | December 21, 2009; 05:12 PM ET | Comments (5)
To watch Oral Roberts in action was to feel something of the charisma and power that built his empire. To hear him speak was to learn some of the bedrock beliefs that seemed to me wrong and at times possibly pernicious. But on that day I was welcomed as a rabbi and learned as much as I taught. I may not treasure the teachings, but I have affectionate and grateful memories of the man.
By David Wolpe | December 15, 2009; 05:18 PM ET | Comments (43)
No God, no problem is exactly right. No problem doing what you wish so long as you can stomach the consequences, or avoid them. No problem disregarding the notion that something beyond you makes demands.
By David Wolpe | November 23, 2009; 01:05 PM ET | Comments (14)
If you wish to be a political pundit, by all means do so. But to cloak political judgments in the mitre - or the cassock, collar or the tallit - is a grave disservice to both policy and religion. The fact that I know more about the Jewish tradition than my congregants hardly means I know more about the consequences of policy.
By David Wolpe | November 17, 2009; 09:26 AM ET | Comments (1)
Religion gives a reason to be good. There is a moral grounding. Ethics are not solely a human choice, or a byproduct of evolution, but woven into the fabric of the universe. Morality is part of our essential being. In our best moments we transcend ourselves; we are good even at the price of our self-interest.
By David Wolpe | October 27, 2009; 03:28 PM ET | Comments (5)
When we refuse a child a vaccination we are violating the rationale for having children. We are unnecessarily endangering others. Not only is one's own child at risk. Vaccinations are a barrier against contagion. In unvaccinated populations everyone is at risk.
By David Wolpe | October 18, 2009; 06:45 PM ET | Comments (37)
For the Jewish tradition, the greatest appeal to a non-believer is not personal experience or the expression of Scripture. It is found in history and especially in community.
By David Wolpe | October 8, 2009; 12:21 PM ET | Comments (1)
Should we be fighting in Afghanistan? There is a clear moral imperative. But 'ought,' as Kant taught us many years ago, implies 'can.' To say we have a moral obligation means that we are able to fulfill it. Here there are serious doubts.
By David Wolpe | October 5, 2009; 05:07 PM ET | Comments (6)
We live in an age of internet discourtesy, where insults are as common as ideograms. Disconnected from one another we feel too free to berate and belittle
By David Wolpe | September 15, 2009; 10:54 AM ET | Comments (44)
The day that terrorism produces an armed American clergy, a sort of swaggering pistol-pulpit, won't even be the day terrorists win. It will be the day we admit not believing in the power of our message to begin with.
By David Wolpe | September 8, 2009; 02:07 PM ET | Comments (6)
The release of the Lockerbie bomber was immoral, unthinkable, unforgivable.
By David Wolpe | August 24, 2009; 06:51 PM ET | Comments (13)
God no more prescribes the form of health care than God endorses Notre Dame's football team over USC's. Sometimes we have to realize that the intricacies of the decision are with us.
By David Wolpe | August 17, 2009; 05:28 PM ET | Comments (1)
The danger of technology is not that it trivializes faith. Religion is not only spontaneous and heartfelt; it is also complex, thoughtful, reasoned, meditative.
By David Wolpe | August 10, 2009; 10:03 PM ET | Comments (7)
To attribute discrimination to the way we interpret texts has some justification. But surely there is also discrimination not because of the way we interpret, but because of the texts themselves.
By David Wolpe | July 21, 2009; 08:28 PM ET | Comments (1)
When the Lewinsky scandal broke out I was repeatedly asked for my views, since the family grew up in my synagogue. They remain the same as with Gov. Sanford and other similar scandals. Infidelity is a matter of private judgment but not public abuse of trust.
By David Wolpe | June 30, 2009; 12:24 PM ET | Comments (4)
One's faith should shine in one's face, not force one to hide it.
By David Wolpe | June 25, 2009; 10:16 AM ET | Comments (3)
I would like to be optimistic about Iran's transition from theocracy to democracy, but I think it unlikely without upheaval at best, cataclysm at worst.
By David Wolpe | June 16, 2009; 05:03 PM ET | Comments (1)
This is an isolated and ugly hate crime, and I would not want it to be representative of anything other than the small, angry and benighted man who allegedly committed it.
By David Wolpe | June 10, 2009; 04:30 PM ET | Comments (11)
President's speech was both powerful and masterful, but there were three areas in particular in which I wish he had chosen to speak with a different valence.
By David Wolpe | June 4, 2009; 12:26 PM ET | Comments (24)
As someone who has survived cancer, I am enormously grateful for the skill of doctors and for my tradition in encouraging that healing art. I prayed, but I did not and would not rely on prayer. It is bad theology, and when done for someone else in place of treating them, it is the cruelty born of credulity or of simple ignorance.
By David Wolpe | May 26, 2009; 11:21 AM ET | Comments (0)
The great Rabbis of Judaism, with very few exceptions, married and raised families. They were better for it.
By David Wolpe | May 13, 2009; 08:31 AM ET | Comments (14)
We are at war with the part of Islam that persecutes women, sends suicide bombers in God's name into crowded markets, and threatens nuclear annihilation, claiming to love death.
By David Wolpe | April 14, 2009; 12:55 PM ET | Comments (111)
Only if the church vigorously prosecutes those who are guilty will the Pope's apology have depth and force. To date, the church has been ambiguous at best in its carrying out of this grave responsibility.
By David Wolpe | April 7, 2009; 03:23 PM ET | Comments (9)
n a world in which an otherwise respectable intellectual like Richard Dawkins can refer to religious education as "child abuse" we must say that one person's gentle faith can be another's unacceptable coercion.
By David Wolpe | March 31, 2009; 01:04 PM ET | Comments (15)
America is indeed losing faith, and there are three principle reasons: extremism, science and social science.
By David Wolpe | March 17, 2009; 02:40 PM ET | Comments (25)
The President made the moral choice, in my view. As someone who is in remission, and whose diagnosis makes it clear that I will one day face treating my cancer again, medical advances are personally poignant to me. But even were that not the case, I would support the research.
By David Wolpe | March 10, 2009; 01:59 AM ET | Comments (23)
Yes, it is best to study with another person, for other minds serve as both goads and correctives. After all, the very first comment on human nature in the Bible is that it is not good to be alone (Gen. 2:18). However, it is far better to read or study alone than not to study at all.
By David Wolpe | February 18, 2009; 08:03 AM ET | Comments (25)
Denial of the holocaust does not have the status of an intellectual position; it is simply an insult. So no, we do not argue. There is no arguing with madness. Instead we protest. We demand decency.
By David Wolpe | February 6, 2009; 09:01 AM ET | Comments (15)
The western world has had complex, sometimes cruel interactions with the Muslim world. The Muslim world -- or a worrying portion of it -- has expressed not merely contempt, but the desire to obliterate Israel, America, and derides significant parts of Western culture.
By David Wolpe | January 28, 2009; 07:53 AM ET | Comments (22)