Shabbat Akharei Mot-Kedoshim: One Step At A Time

“Be holy as HaShem is holy.” Our days are full of unnerving paradoxes, and this week was no exception: This week George Floyd’s killer was found guilty of murder despite being a white police officer, AND police with the identical training killed Andrew Brown, Daunte Wright, Ma’khia Bryant and, here in Portland, Robert Delgado. ThisContinue reading “Shabbat Akharei Mot-Kedoshim: One Step At A Time”

Shabbat Tazria-Metzora: The Elixir of Life

 מִי-הָאִישׁ, הֶחָפֵץ חַיִּים Mi ha’Ish he’Hafetz Hayim? Who is the one who desires life? – Psalm 34.13 The early Shabbat morning prayers called p’sukei d’zimra (verses of song) are a way for us to  prepare spiritually to pull aside our Zoom veils and seek the presence of holiness together  They include some rather direct opportunitiesContinue reading “Shabbat Tazria-Metzora: The Elixir of Life”

Shabbat Shemini: You Can Rise Up

The fifty days between the two harvest festivals of Pesakh and Shavuot are traditionally counted. The daily count is called Sefirat haOmer, the “counting of the [barley] measure,” because in the unceasing toil of ancient agricultural subsistence, every day of the harvest was a time to count in gratitude and in hope for continuing harvest.Continue reading “Shabbat Shemini: You Can Rise Up”

Shabbat hol hamo’ed Pesakh: the Imperative of Joy

On Sunday evening at our Second Seder we counted the plagues: world wide pandemic and more than 2.5 million souls lost Oregon fires Texas ice storm  George Floyd economic hardship assault on the U.S. Capitol children in U.S. concentration camps 31 million people without health insurance white supremacy violence The Federal government repeatedly using weaponsContinue reading “Shabbat hol hamo’ed Pesakh: the Imperative of Joy”

Shabbat Tetzaveh: For Want of a Tent Peg

Our parashat hashavua is Tetzaveh, from the same root as mitzvah, that is, obligation. The parashah’s name is generic: every week we are presented with mitzvot, which we are to carry out. No matter what the occasion or occurrence, there’s always a mitzvah to fulfill; this is the framework that structures Jewish life.  The mitzvotContinue reading “Shabbat Tetzaveh: For Want of a Tent Peg”

Shabbat Zakhor: Remember to Forget

The parashat hashavua is Terumah, which begins with the insistence that if we would know the holy – know peace, serenity, friendship and love – we must build a holy place in which to focus our intention: Let Them make Me a sanctuary where I can be among them (Exodus 25.8) We cannot truly understandContinue reading “Shabbat Zakhor: Remember to Forget”

Shabbat Mishpatim: The Necessary Subversiveness of Delight

Be Happy, It’s Adar! How is it possible that we can be commanded to be happy on a given day? That on the first of Adar, two weeks from Purim, we should somehow manage to be joyful?  The more we know of life, the more we are saddened. Global communication brings news of a friend’sContinue reading “Shabbat Mishpatim: The Necessary Subversiveness of Delight”

Shabbat Yitro: Seeing Requires Silence

On this Shabbat our parashat hashavua recounts the moment when our ancestors stood at the foot of Mt Sinai and underwent a transformative moment. Many have asked what exactly we saw and heard in that moment, when the earth shook and the shofar sounded and fire lit up the mountain. On this erev Shabbat IContinue reading “Shabbat Yitro: Seeing Requires Silence”

Shabbat BeShalakh: Freedom to be Joyful, or Not

Finally, after 400 years of dreaming about a future that is not yet within our grasp, the time is now. All that seemed to be obstacles has fallen away; the door that leads away from enslavement to now is beckoning toward the commitment to what will be. Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh. Trust, HaShem tells Moshe, notContinue reading “Shabbat BeShalakh: Freedom to be Joyful, or Not”