On Yom Kippur, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch discusses the ways we seek to escape – and give meaning and purpose – to the anxiety of life. Some choose the path of science and technology, but does it liberate or paralyze? Some take the opposite approach: resignation. “There is a third way,” he says, “the Jewish way: finding meaning, purpose and joy in the world as it is, and ceaselessly working to create a better world.”
With new political outrage, scandals, lies, and shootings every day, it’s understandable that some of us might suffer from moral fatigue, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch said on the eve of Yom Kippur. “The more sensitive we are, the greater the frustration. But there is only one response in Judaism: To fight back.
In his Rosh Hashanah sermon, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch spoke about anti-Semitism from both sides of the aisle, slamming the right for excusing hate speech and the left for hypocrisy on Israel, and criticizing the Reform movement for its complacency.
Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch tackles questions of free will and morality in this crucial period leading up to the High Holy Days. “This season is about taking responsibility. Judaism insists that you can control your life – and urges us to build guardrails so that we don’t fall. Still, everyone falls. Make sure to get up.
The period before the High Holy Days, during the month of Elul, is one of the rare times in Judaism that we’re told to focus on ourselves, says Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch. “The whole point of this season of introspection is to get ourselves right first – so we can help get others right. If our heart is not right, we cannot change the hearts of others.”