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.”
Welcoming officers from the Israel National Defense College for a special Kabbalat Shabbat service and dinner, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch spoke about the modern-day miracle of Israel and recounted how the Israelites' march to the Promised Land was intended to bring light to all the nations of the world.
After the recent loss of his mother, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch reflects on life’s ephemeral beauty – and the central importance of mothers in our lives.
After a shooting attack on a California synagogue and an anti-Semitic cartoon published in The New York Times left American Jews reeling, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch addressed anti-Semitism coming from both the right and left:
“Jews do something that no others do: We manage to unite the extreme right and the extreme left. The anti-Semitism of the extreme right is lethal, and the left cannot abide Jews who refuse to abandon their distinctive identity. Fighting back starts in your heart: the best way to defeat those who want to see a world without Jews is to commit and recommit to Jewish life.”
“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.”