“In every generation, every Jew should feel as if they were personally redeemed from Egypt,” Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch quotes from the Haggadah. “The Haftarah reading for the second day of Passover mentions Natan-Melech once, in passing. But this very week, Israeli archeologists announced that they discovered an ancient, 2,641-year-old seal impression bearing his name. Because Jerusalem is slowly revealing its buried secrets, we can trace our very essence to the source. We would not be here if they had not been there. Today, we are the beating heart of Judaism.”
Speaking about the recent college admissions, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch says: "The impulse to cheat is always present in our lives – especially in a society like ours that so rewards accomplishment. Jewish tradition teaches that we need to avoid even the first step on the wrong path, and remember that God created human beings imperfect and placed us in an imperfect world – and our task is to improve ourselves."
"Right-wing anti-Semitism inclines towards violence. The anti-Semitism of the left is camouflaged by the rhetoric of human rights, anti-colonialism, liberalism, and white privilege. It tends to be expressed nowadays through hatred of Israel. And starting there – it often stumbles into anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions."
Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch responds to the use of anti-Semitic tropes in recent political discourse, warning us to be wary of efforts to inoculate people from criticism on the basis of race, gender or religion.
In this week’s parasha, God singles out Bezalel by name – and a good name is among our most precious possessions. “Anticipating modern times when, Jewish sages warned against the human propensity to damage a person’s reputation,” said Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch. “It is good for all of us to remember this when we speak about others.”
In this week’s parasha, Moses became so enraged that he took the tablets – described by the Torah as being carved by the very finger of God – and shattered them into pieces. In this era of anger, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch cautions, the enraged are often impervious to reason – but anger can also be a force for good.