Shabbat VaYelekh: Beginning the Shemitta Year

On this Shabbat VaYelekh we have come nearly to the end of the Sefer Torah. Most of the parchment is rolled up on one side of the two atzei hayim, the two “trees of life” upon which the scroll is rolled. It’s a lot of parchment; a lot of text, of reading and studying andContinue reading “Shabbat VaYelekh: Beginning the Shemitta Year”

Shabbat VaYeilekh: We Went Forth

By Shir Tikvah Talmidah Hakhamah Emma Lugo In Vayeilech we find Moshe Rabeinu at the end of his life, and what a long and strange trip it has been.  Our beloved Moses was born into slavery but became the Prince of Egypt by floating down a river, he discovered the truth about who he reallyContinue reading “Shabbat VaYeilekh: We Went Forth”

Who By Fire and Who By Water

as we prepare for the High Holy Days, this prayer from last year is still, sadly, relevant In the morning it is written and in the evening it is sealed:  Who shall die jogging  Who shall die relaxing in their home Who shall die seeking help after a car crash  Who shall die holding aContinue reading “Who By Fire and Who By Water”

Shabbat Ki Tavo: You’ll Know Home When You Get There

Wherever I go I am going toward Jerusalem – Rabbi Nakhman of Bratslav, who never saw Israel The spiritual path of the Jews – and those who love them and travel with them – can be seen as a path of homelessness. From the days of the ivri, the one who crossed over the riverContinue reading “Shabbat Ki Tavo: You’ll Know Home When You Get There”

Shabbat Ki Tetze: The Truth of a Bird’s Nest

We are not individuals, no more than birds are. We and they are individuated out of an endless sky of possibility and longing. And on a dark night we need each other to huddle against the cold. In this week’s parashah we see one of the most famous passages in all of Torah: the case ofContinue reading “Shabbat Ki Tetze: The Truth of a Bird’s Nest”

Shabbat Shoftim: Justice One Step at a Time

Everything we see, whether good or bad, is really a reflection of ourselves. If it was not, we’d simply not see it. – Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism  This Shabbat is called Shoftim, after the first part of the parashah, which deals with the need for a way to compel cooperation with social mores.Continue reading “Shabbat Shoftim: Justice One Step at a Time”

Shabbat Nakhamu: The Courage to be Consoled

נַחֲמ֥וּ נַחֲמ֖וּ עַמִּ֑י יֹאמַ֖ר אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶֽם Nakhamu, nakhamu ami yomar Eloheykhem “Be consoled, my people, says your G*d” – Isaiah 40.1 Last Saturday night we commemorated Tisha B’Av, a date on which we remember not only the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and our two-thousand year homelessness that followed. Jewish tradition also marks the 9th dayContinue reading “Shabbat Nakhamu: The Courage to be Consoled”

Shabbat Hazon: What We Have Done, and What We Must Learn

It is not up to you to finish the work, but you are not excused from your part in it – Pirke Avot We begin our immersion into the Book of Devarim, Deuteronomy, this week. The first parashah of this book is always the prescribed learning for the Shabbat immediately preceding Tisha B’Av. Tisha B’Av,Continue reading “Shabbat Hazon: What We Have Done, and What We Must Learn”

Shabbat Matot-Masei: Neither Here Nor There

“Not all who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring We’ve left the place we knew, the good and the bad of it, and now we don’t know where we are. That is as true of us as it was of our ancestors, who, having left Egypt, wandered in a wildernessContinue reading “Shabbat Matot-Masei: Neither Here Nor There”

my heart is in the east and I am in the uttermost west

During dark times, we who are the Jewish community are summoned to kindle light. In solidarity with all of us who watch the violence exploding in Palestine and Israel, and can do nothing but worry from afar, I offer my thoughts as you consider your own: My closest family and my closest cousins are fightingContinue reading “my heart is in the east and I am in the uttermost west”