Shabbat Toldot: Digging Down to Rise Up

This week’s parashat hashavua describes the difficulty Isaac encounters in establishing himself in the aftermath of his father’s death. Apparently the locals do not respect him as they did his father.   Isaac dug again the wells of water that were dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up afterContinue reading “Shabbat Toldot: Digging Down to Rise Up”

Shabbat Hayei Sarah: Live This Day As If It Is Someone Else’s Last

I believe passionately that the key to meaningful life is learning. And I am not simply offering you my personal opinion. Our Jewish tradition asserts that if we are open to learning new insights, new perspectives, new ideas all the time – even in situations that don’t seem suited to learning – we can redeemContinue reading “Shabbat Hayei Sarah: Live This Day As If It Is Someone Else’s Last”

Shabbat Lekh Lekha: Finding Light in Darkness

One  of the more arresting insights about this week’s parashah is that it describes G-d’s third attempt to create a world. The first attempt ended in a terrible, world-destroying flood. The second was not as cataclysmic, since G-d had sworn never to do that again, and set a bow in the clouds as a Divine reminder. Yet theContinue reading “Shabbat Lekh Lekha: Finding Light in Darkness”

Shabbat Noakh: What Do you Do with It When It’s Broken?

The parashat hashavua for this week is Noakh, the week on which, as everybody knows, we read of the great Flood. But in year two of the Triennial Cycle, where we find ourselves this year, the flood is over: Noah has opened the window, and the dove has flown in with an olive leaf inContinue reading “Shabbat Noakh: What Do you Do with It When It’s Broken?”

Shabbat Bereshit 5774: Take a Bite

 This is very simply a photograph of an apple I bought at an Israeli grocery store. The sticker on it it what makes it priceless: Bereshit (“Genesis”) / taam Gan Eden (“the taste of the Garden of Eden”) The term Bereshit is the name of an Israeli fruit produce company. The word eden is related to the HebrewContinue reading “Shabbat Bereshit 5774: Take a Bite”

Shabbat hol hamo’ed Sukkot 5774: What is the Fruit of Your Life?

A very long time ago, our Israelite ancestors were practicing a particular ritual of thanksgiving at this Sukkot Harvest Festival time of year:   And it shall be, when you come into the land that  יה G-d is about to give you in estate, and you take hold of it and dwell in it, you shall takeContinue reading “Shabbat hol hamo’ed Sukkot 5774: What is the Fruit of Your Life?”

Shabbat Shuvah: Yir’ah and Trembling

We are now entered into a ten-day period of what are meant to be Days of Awe. Awe is a difficult concept for us – the vibrant, incessant creativity of the English language has turned “awesome” into an appreciative adjective for almost anything. For our ancestors, awe – in Hebrew, yir’ah – meant the emotions thatContinue reading “Shabbat Shuvah: Yir’ah and Trembling”

Selikhot meditation: justice is not enough

The days grow fewer until we reach what our tradition calls The Great Day of Judgement. On this Motza’ey Shabbat, as the Shabbat concludes, the Ashkenazi community begins daily midnight prayers of Selikhot, asking for forgiveness. In these prayers we consider: how are we to be judged? in other words, how are we to best do G-d’sContinue reading “Selikhot meditation: justice is not enough”

Shabbat Nitzavim-VaYelekh: Standing Firm And Walking It Forward

We are reading a double parashah this week. The first of the two readings is called standing firm in place, and the second is walking, going forward, toward something. One teaching we can derive from the fact that these two parashot are often read together is that we are to be doing both of these apparentlyContinue reading “Shabbat Nitzavim-VaYelekh: Standing Firm And Walking It Forward”

Shabbat Ki Tavo: What Are Your First Fruits?

This week’s parashah begins with a somewhat unusually detailed description of a ritual meant to give thanks for the harvest. Later in the parashah we are told to celebrate with a big meal and invite all your friends, and be generous too, and invite neighbors and others who might otherwise be left out. The initialContinue reading “Shabbat Ki Tavo: What Are Your First Fruits?”