“HUG-O-GRAM”— The Worst Job in the World


The Worst Job in the World

Amos Lassen

“Hug-O-Grams” is a new miniseries consisting of six episodes about Benjamin Aubergine who thinks he has the worst job in the world – delivering “Hug-O-Grams,” to lonely people. When he first starting working with the company, he thought that it would be a great way to spread happiness, even if just for a short time. He soon learns that his working hours are filled with awkward moments and desperate, delusional people. He tires of it all quickly and sees that his biggest problem is that he is so good at the job, that his clients really love him and his very business-smart boss is not willing to let him quit. beloved by most of his clients and has a business-savvy boss who isn’t going to let him quit so easily.

Directed by Todd Kipp, the series stars Kipp, Nathan Lee Graham, Josh Bertwistle and Victoria Souter. Below are some photos from the series.

“INDOORS”— Trying to Make It Big


Trying to Make It Big

Amos Lassen 

  Eitan Green’s “Indoors” introduces us to Avram (Yuval Siegel), a small-time building contractor who is trying to make it into the big time, gambles on projects that exceed his capabilities. His family lives in the shadow of his career ambitions until one of the projects overwhelms him in debts that he cannot pay back.

Doron (Danny Steg),  Avram’s 14 year old son, is a star athlete who escapes from the difficulties  at home by leading  his school’s team to the Tel Aviv Basketball Championship.  His success on the court is an emotional force which helps his dad.

As the story opens Avram’s wife Dassi (Osnat Fishman), a nurse, is a member of a medical delegation on a humanitarian mission in one of the impoverished areas of Eastern Europe. When the situation at home becomes critically complicated she returns to Israel and discovers how much she worries about Avram and how much she really loves him.

Both his son and his wife go through a rough time due to Avram’s financial downfall but, in their shared effort to help him, they rediscover the strength of their family ties.


 Israeli Academy

Awards Nominee for

Best Screenplay


Offical Selection

Jerusalem International Film Festival 2016


“VAUGHAN, STEVIE RAYE— 1984-1989: LONESTAR”— Quieted Too Soon

“Vaughan, Stevie Ray – 1984-1989: Lonestar”

Quieted to Soon

Amos Lassen

I must claim ignorance here. I do not know anything about Stevie Ray Vaughan. I was out of the country during his popularity and later death so this documentary is all I really know about him.

In the mid-1970s, when Stevie Ray Vaughan first emerged as a modern blues guitarist with great ability and passion. These two qualities distinguished his playing from that of just about all his contemporaries. His kinds of blues, however, did not really impact the mainstream in terms of buying his music via CDs etc. and so he struggled to nail a record deal. But by the time his debut album, “Texas Flood” was released in 1983, things changed and Vaughan became an international phenomenon and an artist of great importance in the revitalization of the blues genre.

This documentary gives us the up till now untold story of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s best years— that period between the release of that debut album and his tragic death in a helicopter crash in 1989. The documentary is made up of rare film footage, exclusive interviews with many close friends and confidantes, contributions from the industry professionals and music writers who documented his career as it unfolded. Included are seldom seen photographs and other features and this is an excellent way to enjoy the performer whose life ended too soon. This film is the sister feature to Sexy Intellectual’s previous documentary, “Rise Of A Texas Bluesman – Stevie Ray Vaughan 1954–1983”.

“DOWN ON THE FARM”— A Clever Animated Film

“Down on the Farm”

A Clever Animated Film

Amos Lassen

When a bale of hay goes missing on the farm, mystery-solving Oink The Flying Pig and his know-it-all pal, Boink the Owl, set off on an adventure to discover which of the farm animals is responsible. In order to discover who took the hay, Oink and Boink have to first learn all there is to know about all the suspects. We join them on their mystery-solving

They work together to uncover clues and inform the other animals of their findings. Directed by Kostas MacFarlane from a script by Lisa Baget, this story contains facts about horses, rabbits, chickens, and many other farm animals. It is educational and entertaining for the intended audience. We are proud to award it the Dove “Family-Approved” Seal for all ages. We hear the voices of Bobby Catalano, William MacNamara, Bill Oberst Jr., Jason Pascoe, KJ Schrock and April Rose.

“FIVE NIGHTS IN MAINE”— Unspoken Resentments and Visual Mtaphors

“Five Nights in Maine”

Unspoken Resentments and Visual Metaphors

Amos Lassen

  Sherwin (David Oyelowo) arrives at the coastal home of his cancer-stricken mother-in-law, Lucinda (Dianne Wiest) while in the midst of grieving the sudden death of his wife, Fiona (Hani Furstenberg). He does not understand why he is there but it could be for any number of reasons. Maybe he is hoping for closure or looking to stop his recent reliance on cigarettes and alcohol or maybe he is just curious about his wife’s past claims that Lucinda disapproved of Fiona having a black husband.

“Five Nights in Maine” is a film that is full of the unspoken resentments and visual metaphors that propel any solemn drama about grief and mourning but even more interesting is that there is also a sense of gothic horror in it. Lucinda’s white, mansion home seems to give an idea that it has been coastal abandoned and Lucinda only greets her son-in-law during candlelit meals and then appears as regal and loud.

Lucinda and Sherwin’s uncomfortable dinners take place after we see long views following Sherwin as he washes dishes, explores the local woods, or interacts with Lucinda’s part-time nurse, Ann (Rosie Perez). The film tries to speak of his race without speaking its name and we see that Sherwin receives long glances from strangers at the grocery store, and he panics after hearing gunshots in the forest. These buttress Sherwin’s alienation from the film’s rural setting, but we had already felt that when he first entered Lucinda’s.

The film’s central characters are complex and difficult to understand. Through flashbacks we see the love and tension in Sherwin’s relationship with Fiona, but there is little about life outside of their marriage. Sherwin has lost his center while we do not see a center in Lucinda. Their brief relationship is uneasy and elusive.

We follow following Sherwin as he silently washes dishes, paces slowly through sparsely furnished rooms, smokes, and makes egg salad as the film captures the internal process of mourning.

Sherwin had only one tender moment with Fiona before learning that she had been killed in a car accident. Marooned in his home with a liquor bottle, and too paralyzed to deal with funeral arrangements, when Lucinda invites him to come to her home in Maine, he goes. Lucinda is very cold and dying from cancer. We do not know much about Sherwin’s life before the accident, although there were clearly some rough patches in his relationship with Lucinda. Fiona visited her shortly before her death, and we sense that this didn’t go well. As the two share dinner-table encounters over the next five nights, Sherwin’s depression slowly becomes quiet anger with the way Lucinda is treating him.

In the absence of much understanding of either of these characters, it is up to the audience to fill in the details by themselves. Director Maris Curran does not prod her characters into exposition and this is very clearly intentional. Grief is an emotion that is internal and one rarely sees it for what it is. Sherwin appears to be the only black person in this particular county and while this is never directly addressed, we see it in the way others stare at him.

Oyelowo gives a precise and controlled performance. Wiest never quite locates a middle ground between Lucinda’s terminal vulnerability and her use of verbal cruelty.

This is gut-wrenching drama that looks at the stages of grief and troubled communication. With his wife’s death, Sherwin is destroyed, unable to process the loss. He almost refuses to function as the process and only finds support from his sister, Penelope (Teyonah Parris). Accepting an invitation from Lucinda, Sherwin enters an uncomfortable situation, receiving guidance from her caretaker, Ann. Lucinda is a guarded woman struggling with terminal illness, leaving Sherwin in a difficult position of engagement. He is unsure how to discuss issues with Fiona’s mother and often remains distant as he takes in the remote location and the intense introspection it causes to happen.

Fragmented memories play an important part in the picture as the character breaks down his heartache into psychological puzzle pieces. When we meet Sherwin, he appears to be a happy man in a loving marriage. This idealized representation of the pairing from his perspective, the film breaks down the reality of the domestic situation with Sherwin, who grows more sensitive to past arguments and behavioral blockage as he grieves. He then surrenders to depression after losing his spouse, cutting off contact with the outside world as he lives in denial of what happened.

Visiting Lucinda clarifies that he is both family but also a stranger. There is dysfunction and unresolved issues between Lucinda and Sherwin and they play with pain and contempt that is very much like a blame game. We see the hostilities and confusion that are all tied to Fiona’s behavior over the last few years and her final exchange with her dying mother. There’s always something brewing beneath the surface here— tensions are taut and vulnerabilities are exposed.

The power of the belongs to Wiest and Oyelowo, who deliver portrayals of anguish and a tentative partnership in grief. Oyelowo captures the mental process of a man who doesn’t know what to do with himself and looks for any opportunity to exorcise his boiling feelings. Wiest plays a woman with a specific reason for social resistance as she holds the feature’s mystery. We as the audience eventually understands her isolation and hesitance to bond with Sherwin. It would have been enough just to watch these two but Curran has prepared something special, transforming a simple tale of reconnection into a maze of confusing emotions.

“bwoy”— Looking for Love Online


Looking for Love Online

Amos Lassen

I just finished watching a screener of a new film “bwoy” and I want everyone to be on the lookout for it. Brad O’Conner (Anthony Rapp) seeks love after the death of his young son and being this is the modern age, he goes on line to find it. . He becomes involved in an online affair with Yenny (Jimmy Brooks), a young Jamaican and the two me carry a passionate and chaotic online affair. Most of the film is made up of the chats that could be very tedious to watch but I soon found myself waiting for them.

Brad’s wife and mother of his son, Marcia also searches for love and solace and as we move forward we see that both people’s lives and relationships are pushed to the edge. Even though I had a good idea of where the film was going and that the tragic confrontations that ensue are unavoidable, I could not help being shocked by the way the film ends. Any of you who have experienced online meetings know what I mean and even today when someone (after chatting you up for a while) says that he is from some place in America and will return in a few months from Afghanistan, I know the time has come to push the block button.

“Bwoy” gives us a look at what it is like for a gay man to search for love online and we see that this is not a pretty story. The film beautifully written and directed, characters are well developed and there are twists and turns throughout. As I said earlier, we can more or less assume that we know where the film is going but that does not mean that everything is clear. There are twists and turns throughout and a very strong message. The idea of wanting to be in love is much stronger here than actually being in love and we certainly feel Brad’s pain as well as his hopes that this romance he has developed on line will provide him with what he is looking for even though we are pretty sure that it will not. We see where love takes him and it hurts us because I believe that we are also susceptible to this kind of romance. with rich character twists and turns. It is very hard to write this review without giving something away. As I watched I questioned Brad’s judgment but I also considered that if I had been dealt with what he was dealing, I might have acted exactly the same. The signs of what was happening were clear to me but because I was not a father who had lost a son and living in a marriage that I was really not a part of.

Director John G. Young has made an old-fashioned kind of movie that does not require elaborate sets and locations. It has a minimal cast and all in all it is unassuming yet very well done. The actors are all excellent and you may wonder what keeps you watching a film about two guys taking via computer for most of it. It is slow moving about characters in states of paralysis but it is impossible to look away. It is quite a bleak look at modern gay men who searching for love online and who really know before they even begin that it is not going to happen. Then comes a surprise online chat and the romance is off and running (mentally) even when it was never there to begin with.

From the moment that the film begins we feel Brad’s loneliness even when we do not yet know that he lost a son. We also see that he, like his online lover, Yenny, is not totally honest. Brad begins his affair with Yenny by telling one lie after another. We wonder then about Yenny and his honesty although I was apprehensive of him from the moment he opened his mouth and congratulated Brad for being so honest and not only looking for a one-time roll in the hay.

I must stop here as I feel myself ready to spill the beans and rather than doing so, I remain silent. I am curious, however, to know how others react to “bwoy”.

“A World Erased: A Grandson’s Search for His Family’s Holocaust Secrets” by Noah Lederman— A Memoir

Lederman, Noah. “A World Erased: A Grandson’s Search for His Family’s Holocaust Secrets”, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers , 2017.

A Memoir

Amos Lassen

Noah Lederman is the grandson of Holocaust survivors and he brings us a poignant memoir based upon what he first heard at his grandparents’ kitchen table in Brooklyn. In the 1950s, Noah’s grandparents raised their children on Holocaust stories. However, because tales of rebellion and death camps caused his father and aunt to have constant nightmares, this changed during Noah’s adolescence when his grandmother would only share the PG version. Noah, however, wanted the uncensored truth and always felt that he was just one question away from their pasts. When his grandfather died at the end of 1999, it seemed that the stories died with him. Poppy died at the end of the millennium, it seemed the Holocaust stories died with him. His grandmother closed up and spent the rest of her life mourning her husband.

After college, Noah became a travel writer and went all over the world for fifteen months and he decided that he would avoid Poland. However, by mistake he ended up there and when he returned to America he shared this with his grandmother. He talked about his time in Warsaw, but was afraid that the past would bring up memories too painful for her to relive. However the opposite was true and in remembering the Holocaust she was unexpectedly rejuvenated and ended five years of mourning her husband. Together, they explored her memories of Auschwitz and a half-dozen other camps, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the displaced persons camps. These were the memories that she had buried for so long and it did not take long before Noah saw her as his hero. Together the two of them shared the transformative power of never forgetting.

For so many of us the Holocaust is a defining moment in history. It changed so much of this world and we always seem to want to know about it. We are soon facing the time when there will be no survivors left and we feel the need to learn as much as we can.

Noah Lederman’s story is that of a young man coming to terms with familial memory as he travels the world and finds his own place in it. His book is filled with dark stories that contain tenderness and while this might seem contradictory, I assure you that it is not.

We read of the evolution of a young man to uncover the stories of his grandparents’ past and this takes him on a journey through repressed memory, horrible trauma, and the landmarks of European genocide. Through it he gains an understanding of his family’s wartime past and his own identity. He wanted the details and he learned them and he sees how the real of horrors of that time transmitted through the generations. He wants to know what gave his parents such terrible nightmares and it is through his own experiences that he finds out.

He went on a quest for the ugly truths that were hidden from him as a child. He also knew that he did not have a lot of time to get them. His memoir covers prewar Jewish life in Poland, the Nazi-imposed Jewish ghetto and extermination camps, the postwar confinement in displaced person camps, and the move to America. These are his grandmother’s words rephrased by him and we read of her passionate hate and her wonderful courage and resilience.

Lederman makes us both laugh and cry as we read and this may very well be the Holocaust book of the year.

“The Genesis of Ethics: How the Tormented Family of Genesis Leads Us to Moral Development” by Burton L. Visotzky— Rereading Genesis

Visotzky, Burton L. “The Genesis of Ethics: How the Tormented Family of Genesis Leads Us to Moral Development”, Crown, 1997.

Rereading Genesis

Amos Lassen

Burton L. Visotzky, one of America’s most respected scholars of religion takes us back to the book of Genesis to reread its narratives and have a close look at the brutal power within and then to apply what we read to ethical issues we face in our lives today. This reading lets us gain moral developments as we read that Visotzky says that on first reading that the book is just “an ugly little soap opera about a dysfunctional family . . . a story about rape, incest, murder, deception, brute force, sex, and blood lust”.  These stories, however, have a lot to say about human dilemmas and ethical problems that we have in our own lives. By looking into the lives of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Esau and holding up these characters of Scripture to critical inquiry, we get a fresh and useful look at ethics and morality. We see here the darkest sides of the stories (25 of the 50 chapters) but with a sense of humor that keeps everything fresh and entertaining. We read the stories and see the characters as related to life today, providing us with a way to look at and think about moral development. Genesis has stories of betrayal, greed, hate, incest, and murder and even with these, author Visotzky sees goodness coming out of the Bible but only if readers are willing to accept it as a challenge to their own moral imagination and not simply as an inspirational story.

No doubt what he says offends traditionalist sensibilities by how he puts modern social theorists above God in his reading of the lives of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and the other flawed characters in the middle chapters of Genesis. He also astounds those progressives who see no need to retain this ancient text in the modern canon. Our good rabbi insist on the importance of the Genesis story, even as he reinterprets it in ways alien to inherited orthodoxy. Unlike orthodoxy that leads to faith and piety, Visotzky’s revisionism takes readers toward critical scrutiny of their own moral orientation in a contemporary world that is as bewildering as Abraham and Sarah’s.

Rabbi Visotzky uses the tension between implicit text and exegeses in light of the current community and the explicit simple story in its context. Throughout the book he urges us to have compassion for the characters. “It is the whole point of moral education to be able to imagine being in another’s position” In the story of Abraham and Sarah, he tries to imagine Hagar’s view not as a vessel, but as a prophet and mother of a nation. He uses examples from his own life experiences so that we will see the point that no one really understands what is happening in another’s life.

Much of the book focuses on Abraham and Sarah. The story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac is in need of ethical interpretation of God’s action, and he references Kierkegaard’s teleological suspension of the ethical. The book sheds light on the events of Abraham’s family in a way that few commentators have really explored. Looking at both Midrash and Tanach, Visotzky unites this ancient world with the dynamics of today’s family. We gain refreshing and believable discussions of some of the most controversial topics and then we are able to apply their relevance to us today.

While some of his interpretations are “out-there” and others might even be considered mildly offensive to traditional readings, they are all interesting and inspire and encourage us to think originally. We gain new ways of thinking and new possibilities as to what is really there and how to relate that to contemporary life.

“The Education of a Daffodil: Prose Poems” by Yermiyahu Ahron Taub— From the Heart to the Page

Taub, Yermiyahu Ahron. “The Education of a Daffodil: Prose Poems”, Hadassa Word Press, 2017.

From the Heart to the Page

Amos Lassen

Every once in a while I come upon a writer whose words affect me and my life. Yermiyahu Ahron Taub is such a writer and as I write this I am trying to remember how I first came upon his writing. I can’t recall if someone else recommended it to me or whether I just found it through luck. It doesn’t matter really except for the fact that it has influenced how I look at the written word and especially how I regard poetry. His poems are those that I read with tears in my eyes because of the way he treats language. Now in “The Education of a Daffodil”, Taub reflects on violence and does so as an outsider; Taub is a poet who seeks connection with the world and is one who has lived life from the outside looking in. He is a gay Jew and a lover who grew up in the Orthodox Jewish world and who thinks of himself as a daffodil, a beautiful flower who has endured pain and rejection yet, in my mind, a writer who blooms all the more because of it. If I am ever asked who my favorite modern poet, the answer is clearly Yermiyahu Ahron Taub.

All of us have at some time felt that we have been outsiders causing us to be frustrated because we cannot find a connection, we feel like fragile daffodils as Taub says. Dealing with rejection and non-communication is painful and once have experienced this, we never want to do so again. However, that pain is necessary for us to better understand who we are and so Taub takes us back to the pain so that we can recover from it. In this our poet becomes more than a poet— he is also a storyteller and something of a dramatist by throwing us cues to which we react. He has divided his book into two sections. In “Brief Histories of Fear”, Taub looks at small scale violence with a series of prose poems that are not connected until taken as a whole. It is here that he builds his mise en scene by producing an atmosphere of danger and fear of what is to come. We strongly sense dislocation and violence and as we read, we become part of his writing. We see the dependence on those who are the opposite of the figures that bring this hate and violence into our lives. “if Aunt Lavinia were here… I would not be so afraid”.

The poems in this section paint portraits of both the poet and of the various anti-heroes in differing times of crisis and, as Taub states introspection. Too often we do not look into ourselves where the answer may be waiting. It is here that we meet those who have influenced his life as created the moods he has gone through and those that are yet to come. He takes us by the hand and guides us through his life as an underling and to the point that he can stand and say that he is proud of who he is. You may question my use of the word “underling” but you only need to read this collection to understand why I chose it.

The second section, “Life Studies in Yellow and Other Primary Colors,” we right away see the interconnection between the poems in which the poet moves from being unaware and unknowing through violence until he can reach a point where there is balance and he can find the equilibrium that he needs. If we take the collection as a whole, we see that he achieves some kind of spiritual education that enables him to continue forward. “The daffodil has turned in the tank… slender of stem and bright of bulb”. That daffodil has “ventured into worlds alternative…” He no longer meets with “pity or revulsion or distance”. We have been with him as he went from innocence to brutality to balance. We have read his stories of loss and trauma, of being displaced, of xenophobia and of dealing with his sexuality to find his place in this world of ours. His past is as important as his present and future for it is from there that he arrives at the others. If there is a message here and I believe that there is a strong one, it is that one who does not examine his life to learn who he is remains just that— unaware, unknowing and far from finished. As the poet is transformed, we are there watching— not as voyeurs but as friends in whom he has trust. He has such confidence in us that we he lets us see the cruelties that he experiences (and that we also experience) and we see his survival and hope that we can do the same. In fact, I would venture to say that the book, is an ode to survival.

In one of the blurbs of the book by others, I came across a Yiddish word that OI have not heard in years— “schlimazel” or one suffers but not by his own hand. Rather he is set apart by others and the result is not only that separation but separation from himself as well. It is possible to move from that as we see here and we become aware of what happens if one does not.

I have met Yermiyahu Ahron Taub and actually spent a weekend with him here in Boston when he came for a poetry festival a couple of years ago. I did not see the guy who appears in the earlier poems but rather the man who has found who he is and is confidant in that.

Stop to think for a moment how often you feel transformed after closing the covers of a book. It does not happen often but it will happen here and I promise you that. We must celebrate survival without ever forgetting how we got to it.


Six poems also have a Yiddish version.


“Judaism and Disability: Portrayals in Ancient Texts from the Tanach through the Bavli” by Judith Z. Abrams— Rereading Our Holy Texts

Abrams, Judith Z. “Judaism and Disability: Portrayals in Ancient Texts from the Tanach through the Bavli”, Gallaudet University Press, 1998.

Rereading Our Holy Texts

Amos Lassen

With this review, I am breaking my tradition of reviewing new books and am going back to 1998 to have a look at one of the major studies of Judaism and disability. I am an active member of my temple’s inclusion and disability committee and after hearing an illuminating and education talk from my rabbi on the subject, I decided that I personally want to know more on the subject. “Judaism and Disability” looks into all of the ancient texts and their explications, (the Tanach, the Mishnah, considered the foundation of rabbinic literature, and the Bavli or the Babylonian Talmud) to see just what they have to say. Rabbi Judith Abrams does not use modern consciousness and interpretation of the texts. She prefers to look at the archaic works that compose the canon of Jewish learning and tradition. Her research is amazing and it allows us to understand why they expressed the sensibilities that they did regarding disability.

Our religion has an almost uninterrupted record of scripture and commentary that goes all the way back to the year 1,000 B.C.E. (B.C.), portions of which allow us to read and document attitudes toward disabled people in the earliest centuries of this ancient culture. There are many surprises here that I am sure most of us have never really thought about and since I am writing this during National Disability month, I found myself learning and able to teach some of what is said here. We become aware of the mentally ill, the mentally backwards, deaf, blind, and other disabled people of what our holy canon has to tell us. What is so interesting is the sharp contrast that these writings present especially when we look at them as compared to the Jewish and biblical ideal of perfection The concept of perfection was embodied in a person who is male, free, unblemished, and who can cognitively communicate and who is learned. As Judaism moved away from the ideal transformed from the bodily perfection of the priest, we see a tendency toward intellectual prowess in the Diaspora. Parallel changes of attitudes toward disabled persons occurred gradually. As time progressed the emphasis upon physical perfection as a prerequisite for a relationship with God helped to bring about the enfranchisement of some disabled people and other minorities.

While this book is already almost twenty yeas old, it is still relevant and will likely remain so as a powerful and classic study of disability. Abrams has divided her book into seven sections—Introduction, Priestly perfection, Persons with disabilities, symbolism and collective Israel, Disabilities, atonement, individuals, and body, soul and society. The main focus here is to see how disability affected Cohanim (priests) and their function in the Temple and how disabled persons became symbols of collective Israel. We also read about how individual life stories became literally object lessons in theology, how persons with disability were looked upon in Judaism and surrounding cultures and how the person with disability was categorized.

A major and fundamental principle here is da’at (knowledge, understanding, intellect, cognition or consciousness). In order to perform the duties of dais person will have to have this in order to perform duties in Judaism, one will have to be able to act upon his da’at and to put it into action in the context of the society. All disabilities that are considered minor or “katan” and in most cases this refers to those who are physically disabled. The “shoteh” are the major mentally disabled (the mental ill, the intellectually disabled, the fool). There fall into the category of those who, because of disability are unable to perform a lot of duties in Judaism. Rabbi Judith Abrams and wonderfully brings into harmony the many voices Jewish voices that address the theology, history, and practical experience of disability. The time has come to move past seeing those with disabilities as needy people but as those who have needs.

Interdependency is a central characteristic of life and society”. Rabbi Abrams celebrates the interdependency of the Jewish community in action. Her book reminds us on seemingly every page that action is totally associated with theory because of the primacy of justice in the Torah. We begin to see a change in the way we react to those who are disabled that is accord with the Torah and practical human justice.