Sept. 14, 2020

Richard Sandler on Deuteronomy 30:12-13– “Listening: Who We Are and Where We Came From”

Attorney, investor, and one of the great Jewish leaders in the United States, Richard Sandler, is Mark’s guest on the podcast today. Richard has been the Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, and has served on the board of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the Milken Institute, as well as a number of companies. The passage he has chosen to discuss today is Deuteronomy 30:12-13, a passage which holds special meaning for Mark’s wife.

Richard starts the conversation off by sharing his summary of the passage, the meaning it holds for him, and the many differences that the Jewish people have made throughout the world. He and Mark emphasize the impact of the Torah’s guidance on the continuity of the Jewish people, marvel at Moses’ genius and audacity, and Richard provides his perspective on Jewish continuity, the Jewish engagement of younger generations, and the importance of listening to understand one another. Their conversation draws to a close with the lessons that Richard has learned about mankind and the power of listening and learning absolutely everyday - a fitting conclusion to an episode where you are invited to listen and learn from these two titans of business and Jewish wisdom.

Episode Highlights:

  • Richard’s summary of the passage and its meaning for him
  • The differences Jewish people make in the world
  • The impact of the Torah’s guidance
  • Moses’ genius and audacity
  • Richard’s perspective on Jewish continuity through generations and the Jewish engagement of younger generations
  • The importance of listening to understand one another
  • The lessons regarding mankind which Richard has learned
  • Learning everyday


“It’s why we’ve survived these thousands of years, it’s why we have made a huge difference in this world. We have a guidepost, we have a value system.”

“It’s not a law book, it’s not a cookbook, it’s not a theology book. It’s a guidebook to help us live better lives today…it’s the best one ever written…it’s totally practical.”

“We keep making a difference in the world totally disproportionate to our numbers.”

“We’re going to build our future upon universal education.”

“My greatest concern is to make sure that my grandchildren, basically, understand who they are and where they came from.”

“We are losing our connection to the beauty and the depth of our tradition.”

“Let’s find out why they believe what they believe, let’s understand what they care about.”

“We have amazing rabbinic talent that touches young people and can speak to them.”

“Listening is such an important part of, really, who we are and where we come from. We come from debate.”

“Speak as if you’re right, but listen as if you’re wrong.”

Deuteronomy 30:12-13 It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?”


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