I'm Jon Spira-Savett, rabbi at Temple Beth Abraham in Nashua, New Hampshire. This website and blog is a resource for Jewish learning and Jewish action. It is a way to share my thoughts beyond my classes and weekly Divrei Torah. You'll find blog posts, standing resource pages with links and things to read, and podcasts as well.
Also, I have been logging in at 12:36pm Eastern time each weekday this Elul to teach and talk about some classic teaching about teshuvah, mostly Maimonides but other things maybe too. You can join here, or you can listen to the ones I've taped:
This is another take on something I've written and spoken about before, how and why I chose to stay in America because of my engagement with quintessential American themes of freedom and individuality. I spoke about this last Shabbat, in anticipation of Independence Day 2022. It's published here at the Times of Israel.
On “The Good Place”, Janet makes and reabsorbs Derek, her rebound guy; Tahani and Jason almost get married; and Eleanor reveals to Chidi their love from a previous reboot. On the podcast, David Shyovitz and I roam through Talmudic and medieval Jewish texts about soulmates – whether they are earthly or for the next world, whether they are decreed on high or discovered in life, and what the stakes of those questions really are in Jewish thought.
On “The Good Place” Shawn offers Michael a promotion, and among the humans only Eleanor has faith that Michael is actually still on their side. On the podcast, Leah Jones and Jon talk about how little they know about Kierkegaard – but how a leap to faith opens you to clues, lessons, and ethical possibilities you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
On “The Good Place” Michael turns the famous trolley problem into another form of torture for Chidi, while Jason says being mean to someone who is being nice to you is bad but he can’t put his finger on why. On the podcast, Geoff Mitelman (rabbi/science guy!) and I discuss how philosophical models torture us and teach us, and how understanding our brains with the insights of neuroscience can help us become better at ethical decisions. Click here to listen and for show notes.
Chapter 20: Because Friends — And Lying Reframed
On “The Good Place”, Janet’s glitching prompts Michael and Janet to talk about the lies at the beginning of their relationship and now, and Michael realizes that they are friends. On the podcast, Myra and Ben and I overinterpret paper clips. Then we look for a broader view of lying and truth-telling, and discuss how friendship relates to speaking in error and learning truth. Click here to listen and for show notes.
On “The Good Place” both Michael and Tahani experience their own crises — existential, midlife, and otherwise — and Eleanor and Jason help them through it. On the podcast, Julee Levine and I wonder which dimensions of such crises spur us forward, with some help from the biblical book of Ecclesiastes.
Back with another episode of Tov! Had the usual blast recording, this time with my colleague and old friend Daniel Kirzane. If you're liking the podcast please tell other people about it, or subscribe on one of the podcast apps and give a great rating! Thanks!
I haven't posted a Tov! update for a while, but a few new episodes are out the past month and one of them is keyed to Purim which begins tonight. Listen right here or on YouTube (it's just audio), or check out the episode page with the audio and full show notes. Or just subscribe on any of your favorite podcast apps. Simchat Purim, wishing everyone a joyous and meaningful Purim celebration!
On “The Good Place” Chapter 7 is the classic lying episode, and on the podcast Rebecca Rosenthal and I jump off from the Talmud’s analysis of white lies to talk about truth and relationships, how and when we tell people important truths, and how truth emerges between people not just by telling.
Rabbi Dan Ross and I co-host once again. On “The Good Place”, Eleanor tries both to keep and not keep her promises to Michael — and on the podcast, Dan and I trade stories of dog-watching gone wrong and explore why promising is such a big, Yom-Kippur-level matter in Judaism. (That's Dan below!)