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”

Shabbat BeHar Sinai: What do kidneys have to do with Sinai?

חוֹקֵר כְּלָיוֹת חָטָאנוּ לְפָנֶיךָ רַחֵם עָלֵינוּ You, Examiner of Kidneys, we have sinned before you, have compassion upon us! from the Selikhot prayers of the Edot haMizrakhi, the Jews of the Middle East This week our parashat hashavua is BeHar Sinai, “on Mt Sinai.” It seems jarring to us and strange to see this reference to Mt Sinai longContinue reading “Shabbat BeHar Sinai: What do kidneys have to do with Sinai?”

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”