Shabbat Kedoshim: What Does It Mean to Be Holy In This World?

On this particular week in the 21st century, from the perspective of the east side of Portland Oregon in the U.S. in the western hemisphere of planet Earth, a small planet in a mid-sized galaxy in a Universe beyond our understanding, much has occurred. So much that is beyond our ability to embrace with ourContinue reading “Shabbat Kedoshim: What Does It Mean to Be Holy In This World?”

Shabbat Pesakh ‘ח – Remember

The weeklong Festival of Pesakh (with an 8th Diaspora day) is a powerful way to start a year. Beginning with the metaphor of becoming, as our ancestors experience what the rabbis called the “birth pangs” of Egyptian suffering and then transitioning through the “birth canal” of the parted waters of the Sea, we find ourselvesContinue reading “Shabbat Pesakh ‘ח – Remember”

Shabbat Metzora: Don’t Spread Evil Words

This Shabbat is called “The Great Shabbat”, Shabbat HaGadol, because it is the Shabbat before Pesakh begins. This year the parashah (weekly Torah reading) is Metzora, a word which denotes a malady of skin, clothing or even the walls of one’s house. Like many a problem, it may be only “skin-deep”, or it may haveContinue reading “Shabbat Metzora: Don’t Spread Evil Words”

Shabbat HaHodesh: Slow Down

וצריך שיוסר השופט בכל הענינים שיש במסכת אבות כגון שיהיה מתון בדין ואל ימהר פסק דין שאפשר שיהיה בדין ההוא ענין נסתר “The judge must be restrained by all of the matters that are in Tractate Avot – for example, that he be deliberate in judgement, and not be quick to execute a decision, asContinue reading “Shabbat HaHodesh: Slow Down”

Shabbat Tzav: The Boss of You

אש תמיד תוקד על המזבח לא תכבה eysh tamid tukad al hamizbe’akh lo tikhbeh Fire shall be kept continually burning on the altar; don’t let it go out (Lev. 6.6) The parashat hashavua we immerse ourselves in all this week is called Tzav, literally “order” or “command” in the imperative form. It’s quite abrupt: oneContinue reading “Shabbat Tzav: The Boss of You”

Shabbat VaYikra, coming up on Purim: Nurturing the little Alef of our Future

אָח֣וֹר וָקֶ֣דֶם צַרְתָּ֑נִי וַתָּ֖שֶׁת עָלַ֣י כַּפֶּֽכָה  You formed me before and after, You lay Your hand upon me – Psalms 139.5 Rabbi Yohanan recalled the verse Let us make the earthling in Our Image and Our Likeness (Genesis 1.26). Rabbi Yirmiyah ben Elazar said, “at the moment when the Holy Blessed One created the firstContinue reading “Shabbat VaYikra, coming up on Purim: Nurturing the little Alef of our Future”

Shabbat Pekudey: It’s Not a Sin to Take a Break

Actually, the opposite is true. שֵׁ֣שֶׁת יָמִים֮ תֵּעָשֶׂ֣ה מְלָאכָה֒ וּבַיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֗י יִהְיֶ֨ה לָכֶ֥ם קֹ֛דֶשׁ  On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day rest is holy (Ex. 35.2) As of sundown today, the work has to be done. Whatever it is you are doing, after sundown on the sixth day it isContinue reading “Shabbat Pekudey: It’s Not a Sin to Take a Break”

War In Ukraine

  לְ֭מַעַן אַחַ֣י וְרֵעָ֑י אֲדַבְּרָה־נָּ֖א שָׁל֣וֹם בָּֽךְ  For the sake of my kin and friends, I pray for your well-being לְ֭מַעַן בֵּית־יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵ֑ינוּ אֲבַקְשָׁ֖ה ט֣וֹב לָֽךְ  for the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I seek your good Psalm 122. 8-9 When in 2003 I came to Congregation Shir Tikvah of Portland Oregon at theContinue reading “War In Ukraine”

Shabbat VaYakhel: There But For The Grace of G*d

וַיַּ֗עַשׂ אֵ֚ת הַכִּיּ֣וֹר נְחֹ֔שֶׁת וְאֵ֖ת כַּנּ֣וֹ נְחֹ֑שֶׁת בְּמַרְאֹת֙ הַצֹּ֣בְאֹ֔ת אֲשֶׁ֣ר צָֽבְא֔וּ פֶּ֖תַח אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד         They made the laver of copper and its stand of copper, from the mirrors of the women who performed tasks at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. (Ex. 38.8) Last Saturday night a 60 year old woman helping to holdContinue reading “Shabbat VaYakhel: There But For The Grace of G*d”

Shabbat Ki Tisa: False Gods and Fear

Jews are still waiting; we don’t live in a world already redeemed by the advent of the Messiah. We live not in a world of Messianic ethics, where questions are resolved and the path forward is clear; we live in a world of “messy ethics.” – Dr. Byron Sherwin ז״ל Everything that seemed so promising so recently now seemsContinue reading “Shabbat Ki Tisa: False Gods and Fear”