Shabbat Hazon: Making Room to Mourn, Because the World is Broken

Those who mourn with Jerusalem will be privileged to celebrate with her – Ta’anit 30b This Shabbat is Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the month of Av. Because it falls on Shabbat, we will observe Tisha B’Av on Sunday 10 Av, rather than tomorrow which is the 9th of the month (and Tisha B’AvContinue reading “Shabbat Hazon: Making Room to Mourn, Because the World is Broken”

Shabbat Matot-Masei: Rosh Hodesh Av

It’s not the actual act of violence; it’s the conditions that cause it. Conditions that we either contribute to, or have the power to interrupt, with each small act of our own everyday lives.  Today is Rosh Hodesh Av 5782. On the Jewish spiritual calendar, today is the first day of the month of Av,Continue reading “Shabbat Matot-Masei: Rosh Hodesh Av”

Shabbat Pinhas: Violence Begins At Home

מִפְּנֵי מָה חָרַב? מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיְתָה בּוֹ שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם “why was the Second Temple destroyed? It was destroyed due to the fact that there was sin’at hinam, senseless hatred, among us” – BT Yoma 9.a This week in the Torah our parashah is profoundly disturbing. Last week’s final lines described what our tradition has defined as an “extrajudicial execution” undertaken by a member ofContinue reading “Shabbat Pinhas: Violence Begins At Home”

Shabbat Balak: We’re Alone Out Here

We are usually distracted enough by the talking ass in our parashat hashavua to fail to notice some of the other more sobering moments of the story of the mercenary prophet Balaam and King Balak of Moab. The very idea of a talking animal might lead us to miss the fact that she is theContinue reading “Shabbat Balak: We’re Alone Out Here”

Shabbat Hukkat: Stop Making Sense

What are we to do when life is confusing, frightening, and distressing? For Jews and those who follow the Jewish spiritual path with us, there is only one answer: Torah. Immerse yourself in the ancient wellsprings that sustained our ancestors, you will find that they hold you up too. This week in parashat Hukkat our ancestorsContinue reading “Shabbat Hukkat: Stop Making Sense”

Shabbat Korakh: All the People are Holy but that’s not the point

Are you an American Jew or a Jewish American? In the 1970s I remember the Jewish community doing “values clarification” exercises in summer camp, shul learning, and adult education. The questions and discussions revolved around the concept of identity: are you a Jew who happens to live in the U.S. or are you an AmericanContinue reading “Shabbat Korakh: All the People are Holy but that’s not the point”

Shabbat Shelakh: The Point of No Return

Every once in a while, one reaches a point of no return. This week, we read in parashat Shelakh that it happened to the People of Israel. Some of the discontent and factionalizing was tolerable – they complained for meat instead of manna and got an influx of quail (spoiler alert: too much quail isContinue reading “Shabbat Shelakh: The Point of No Return”

Shabbat BeHa’alot’kha: Pride and Juneteenth and Father’s Day, oh my!

Because What Do I Know about Love Except that we are at sea in it  – and parched for its lack? Let down your buckets, my dears.  Haul up the sweet, swaying spill. Tilt your face to the stream. Be washed.  Be drenched.  Turn loose the dripping dogs to shake themselves among you. Flood theContinue reading “Shabbat BeHa’alot’kha: Pride and Juneteenth and Father’s Day, oh my!”

Shabbat BeHukotai: House Rules

When chaos threatens, what rules still make sense? Jewish time continues. Even this week, still heartbroken by the massacre of ten beautiful souls in Buffalo New York, and now reeling from the tragedy of the massacre of nineteen children and two teachers in Uvalde Texas, it’s going to be Shabbat again.  Lately it’s Tevye, dancingContinue reading “Shabbat BeHukotai: House Rules”