Aug. 20, 2020

Senator Cory Booker on Genesis 18:1-10 – “God and Hospitality: Angels Emerge”

Senator Cory Booker, Mark’s great friend of almost 25 years, joins him on the podcast today. Cory’s many accomplishments include being a Stanford All-American tight end, Rhodes Scholar, Yale Law School graduate, and two term mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He is now serving in his second term in the United States Senate. Cory is also a Christian who has spent his adult lifetime studying and drawing inspiration from Jewish texts as Mark has witnessed during their long friendship. The passage he has chosen to discuss today is Genesis 18:1-10.

Cory begins by summarizing the passage, and sharing his reasons for choosing it and the meaning it holds for him. He and Mark then discuss the concepts of ‘underpromise, overdeliver’ and ‘giving without being asked’ as they appear in the passage and in their own lives. They also discuss the nature of angels and their presence within the Torah and throughout the world today. Cory offers his perspective on the lessons he has learned about humankind and also what he has learned about America that others wouldn’t necessarily know. Woven throughout this informative discussion is the sense that the lessons of the Torah continue to reveal themselves to these two very good friends and play a pivotal role in their personal and professional lives as they bring kindness and justice to life and look for and find God’s messengers in those around them.

Episode Highlights:

  • Cory’s summary of the passage, his reasons for choosing it, and its meaning for him
  • One of his favorite moments as an American
  • Underpromise, overdeliver
  • Giving without being asked
  • The giving that Mark and Cory have done
  • Cory’s experience in the burning building
  • Why Abraham is such an extraordinary figure
  • Defiance of God as a celebrated virtue in the Torah
  • The nature of angels and where Cory has met them
  • How Mark has been an angel to Cory
  • Looking at everyone as a potential messenger from God
  • The lessons that Cory has learned about humankind
  • What he has learned about America that others wouldn’t know


“It involves...two of the great values of humanity...kindness, and...justice.”

“Welcome the stranger because you were once a stranger in a strange land.”

“I got such chills watching these men dance and sing and celebrate the welcoming of strangers coming into America from a different faith and race - it was amazing to me.”

“He runs away from God to do good, to do justice.”

“I’m going to stand up for what is just, no matter if it’s the will of God or not.”

“When you serve people, you become greater than the angels.”

“I see you, I love you.”

“Everybody is worthy of love and grace.”

“I feel complicit when I witness things and I don’t speak up about them.”

“You’ve internalized so many of these values of the Torah.”

“I’m trying to live up to my values everyday, and I fall short everyday, but I think it’s that wrestling always with that, is what’s important with me.”

Genesis 18:1-10 -


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