Strangers and Hashtags, or Religion and Spirituality

Leon Wieseltier has struck gold once again. In another great essay in the New Republic he body slams Alain de Botton for his self absorbed retreat from the world.  It is well worth reading. His language is exquisite as always, and the analysis is spot on. Alain de Botton argued for a twitter sabbath so that one can retreat into the stillness and appreciate the simpler and more beautiful things in life. Wieseltier’s sharp pen pokes fun at and holes in the argument. Wieseltier’s argument is similar to the argument that values religion over spirituality and responsibilities over rights. I once read an article a number of years ago by Rabbi Sacks published in some newspaper about the difference between religion and spirituality. I’ve spent some time googling for it but can’t find it. If you know where it is, feel free to comment. And once we’re talking about responsibilities over rights, let’s recall Robert Cover’s beautiful essay on Obligation.

I often hear that kids nowadays want to know what’s in it for them and they are too focused on finding their own personal meaning in mitzvot. There’s some truth to that. Everyone wants to find personal meaning. It seems to me though that it’s our job as educators to teach about the joy in serving others and living a life committed to something bigger than ourselves. This doesn’t seem to be a hard sell to me. Kids want to fight for something. They want to believe in a cause.  Believe in me . Help me believe in anything.  Cause I, I wanna be someone who believes


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