Dec. 10, 2020

Rabbi Rick Jacobs on Isaiah 58:1-8 – “Living a Life of Meaning and Purpose”

Mark’s delight is palpable as he welcomes Rabbi Rick Jacobs to the podcast today. As President of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Jacobs currently leads the largest and most diverse Jewish movement in North America. He is a longtime and devoted creative change agent who has served as Rabbi of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, where he created the first homeless shelter in a New York City synagogue, before spending 20 years as a visionary spiritual leader at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York. The passage he has chosen to discuss today is Isaiah 58:1-8. Rabbi Jacobs begins the conversation by summarizing the passage and sharing its significance for him, particularly in its commentary upon moving beyond the foundation of ritual and study toward acting for social justice. He and Mark engage in an extensive exploration of other related Torah passages, the call to be righteously indignant for justice, and experiencing empathy for others. They also discuss the examples set by social justice activists throughout history, the story behind this passage’s placement within Yom Kippur, as well as the Rabbi’s perspective on important Jewish holidays and the global Jewish people. He draws the episode to a close with a particularly powerful example of one of the lessons he has learned about humankind. Rest assured, you will not only be educated by Rabbi Jacobs today, but you will be inspired and moved to action through his wisdom, his passion, and, above all, his integrity, in today’s utterly fascinating discussion. Episode Highlights: · Rabbi Jacobs’ summary of the passage and its significance for him · The powerful grounding in ritual and study · The requirement of living ethically rigorous, disciplined, impactful lives · Other passages in the Torah that echo the message of today’s passage · Being righteously indignant for the sake of justice · Experiencing empathy for others · What it means to be a person of faith · Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath · The story behind the placement of this passage as part of Yom Kippur · The Rabbi’s perspective on the two most important Jewish holidays · Rabbi David Hartman and how he inspired Rabbi Jacobs · Rabbi Jacob’s vision of a global Jewish people · The lessons that he has learned about humankind  Quotes: “The section is very agitational.” “It literally is a counterbalance to the most intense ritual moment in the Jewish calendar.” “It’s a corrective to a Judaism that would be only obsessed with ritual details.” “I’m literally in love with this passage.” “At our most intense ritual, we read a passage that challenges the conventional notion of ritual.” “Commitment to social justice, to righting the wrongs of society, are fundamental to what it means to be a person of Jewish commitment and faith.” “Religious life is built on the details.” “This is not about checking the box.” “This is a time when everybody’s stomachs are growling.” “Use the experience of this Holy Day to fuel a greater sensitivity and awareness…the experience is supposed to get inside not only our heads, but our hearts.” “It was as if my feet were praying.” “The Torah isn’t just for our sanctuary, for our ritual moment. It’s a beacon of light in the world.” “I want them to take on something and really do it.” “For the Jewish tradition, social justice isn’t ‘community service’.” “We’ve got to stretch ourselves.” “There is within each of us a common bond to the people who are the most different.” “We find a bedrock upon which we can build a world of hope and possibility.”

Isaiah 58;1-8-  Links: The Rabbi’s Husband homepage: The Rabbi's Husband Mark’s Twitter: Mark Gerson - The Rabbi's Husband (@markgerson) The Rabbi’s Husband Newsletter contact:

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