Jan. 14, 2021

Dr. Elana Stein Hain on Jeremiah 28 – “Leadership with a Message of Agency”

Mark is delighted to welcome Dr. Elana Stein Hain to the podcast today. In addition to her role as the Director of Faculty at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, Elana also co-leads the Created Equal research team, and is a widely well-regarded teacher and scholar. She has served for eight years as a clergy member on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, at both Lincoln Square Synagogue and the Jewish Center, and has taught at the Wagner School at NYU. The passage she has chosen to discuss with Mark today is Jeremiah 28.

Elana begins by reviewing her doctoral dissertation on legal loopholes in rabbinic law, exploring examples of both the letter and spirit of the law, and then summarizing today’s passage and its significance for her. She and Mark discuss the differing models of leadership demonstrated within the passage and how these models are evident in America today, the complexities and demands of religion, the tendency among some to gravitate toward ‘cheap grace’, and the difference between the prophetic and the rabbinic. As with all episodes, our guest draws it to a close by sharing the lessons she has learned about humankind. From start to finish, the conversation here today is filled with fascinating ideas with very real implications in modern society, a function of the eternal guidance of this remarkable text.

Episode Highlights:

· Elana’s dissertation on legal loopholes in rabbinic law · Selling chametz before Passover · Elena’s summary of the passage and its significance for her · Leadership and the message of agency · Morality and politics in America today · The complexities and demands of religion · Gravitating toward ‘cheap grace’ · The difference between prophetic and rabbinic · The lessons about humankind that Elana has learned


“Some of my religious life was constructed around loopholes.”

“You can actually sometimes use the letter of the law in order to fulfill the spirit of the law.”

“You actually have to work on your relationship with God, you have to work on your relationship with people.”

“Everybody is going to want to listen to the guy who gives the easy version.”

“He actually wants the people to get it right.”

“There’s going to be nothing easy about this.” “They turn it into politics when it’s really about morality, and that, I think, happens all the time.” “I always wonder, as an educator, whether we sell religion short by not talking about its complexities, by not talking about its demands.”

“Are we created in God’s image or is God created in our image?”

“We can justify anything.”

“It’s really seeing something much bigger than oneself. We’re not the center of the story.”

“So many people think that they’re the only one.”

“You get to be there for a person and they know they’re not going to be judged.”

“Your problem becomes your security blanket.”

Jeremiah 28 - https://www.sefaria.org/Jeremiah.28.1-17?lang=bi


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