August 11, 2017
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon
This week we read the great Torah portion of Ekev, which tells us how to be morally good. It is a simple but high standard that is commanded here: listen and observe God’s rules in order to live life as we should.
But even beyond our own standards of conduct, there are a few individuals in the world who transcend ordinary measures of human quality, and cross all boundary lines of national, religious, and ideological approval. These are the exceedingly rare people who teach us profound things about our essential nature, and who, in their own lives, demonstrate true moral greatness. The list is short, and some of the most prominent members have died fairly recently: Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and Elie Wiesel, for example. You may have your own candidates.
Prominent on anyone’s list of such luminaries is the 14th Dalai Lama. He has been the religious leader of his people, Tibetan Buddhists, for nearly 80 years, and has represented both their aspirations for freedom and the common humanity in each one of us throughout his long career. Many words of praise have been written about him—it is almost incidental that he is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate—but most telling is that with all the accolades he has received for his wisdom, sagacity, learning, and courage, he is warm, charming, funny, and self-deprecating. He embodies for Buddhists the supremely important value of compassion, which he demonstrates with grace and generosity to us all.
Read more: Morality and the Dalai Lama - Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon's Sermon Ekev 5777
August 4, 2017
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon
I know that some of you may be here to find out what it was like to meet the Dalai Lama, and hear him teach, as I did while I was in northern India in July. I can tell you tonight that it was inspirational and amazing, that he is an extraordinary human being, and that I will speak more about it next Shabbat. That is, this is a teaser, and you have to tune in next week for the story of that experience, the rabbinical version of “what I did on my summer vacation.”
What I do want to talk about tonight is Israel, from which I returned early this past week.
Read more: On, and Off, the Temple Mount - Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon's Sermon Va’etchanan-Nachamu 5777