As someone whose shelves are overflowing with books about cognitive science, and who often integrates these findings with Jewish teachings, I want to share three books that teach Jewish ideas.
Obviously, Alex Rodriguez has issues, and there is no excuse for his behavior. But the larger issue for us to reflect on is our own views on cheating, morality and ethics.
There are two Hebrew words that we say many, many times over these High Holy Days. Those two Hebrew words are, of course, shanah tovah. And yet we almost always mistranslate them.
Different forms of stealing have different “feels” to them. Physically taking money from another person feels more violent, more immediate, and less justifiable of an action. “Cooking the books,” however, can easily feel explainable by the perpetrator.
While an ethic of “do what you feel” would obviously be disastrous, there may be a way to transform this “moral individualism” into “moral ownership.”
Awareness, intentionality and self-knowledge have become rich sources of scientific inquiry. Interestingly, these ideas also have deep resonance with teachings found within Jewish tradition.
If we think of our neighbors as people we have to try to keep up with, then that will just make us miserable. But if we think of our “neighbors” as those we have a responsibility to, then we can realize the value and importance of moving away from our self-centered materialism.
Perhaps the Robin Hood story endures even up to today because thinking about “giving to the poor” simply makes us feel good (although certainly just “taking from the rich” is not what we should do!). So maybe we should strive to become a bit more like Robin Hood on the “giving” part of that equation — not only would it make the world more fair, it would make us feel better, as well.