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”

Shabbat Tetzaveh: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

At the very end of our parashat hashavua this week we find this instruction about the altar we are making for a way to focus communication with HaShem: לֹא־תַעֲל֥וּ עָלָ֛יו קְטֹ֥רֶת זָרָ֖ה וְעֹלָ֣ה וּמִנְחָ֑ה וְנֵ֕סֶךְ לֹ֥א תִסְּכ֖וּ עָלָֽיו׃ You shall not offer alien incense on it, or a burnt offering or a meal offering; neitherContinue reading “Shabbat Tetzaveh: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up”

This week the Torah begins with a passage that has become famous for its use in building campaigns throughout the Jewish world: וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם V’asu li mikdash v’shakhanti b’tokham Let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them (Exodus 25.8) Our parashah is called Terumah, “gift.” The verse aboveContinue reading

Pittsburgh, Poway, Colleyville

When Shabbat ended yesterday I saw what riveted the Jewish community in the U.S. and Israel all day: the entry of a human being, suffering from anger and in misery, into a shul during Shabbat livestream prayers. He held the human beings he found hostage all day. The day ended with all hostages safe andContinue reading “Pittsburgh, Poway, Colleyville”

Shabbat BeShalakh: What It Takes To Get Across the Sea

Evil consists in ruining someone else’s life rather than examine one’s own. – M Scott Peck, People of the Lie As we follow Torah’s narrative of the Israelite escape from Egypt, this week’s parashah relates a tense, utterly human moment. It’s the well-known sense that often sets in immediately after one takes an irrevocable step,Continue reading “Shabbat BeShalakh: What It Takes To Get Across the Sea”

Shabbat Bo: “Come” to Pharaoh

“The self is not built to carry its own weight.” Social psychologist Roy Baumeister Our parashat hashavua is Bo, literally “come.” As we read at the beginning of the parashah: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר ה֙’ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה בֹּ֖א אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֑ה  VaYomer HaShem el Moshe, “Bo el Par’oh.” HaShem said to Moses, “Come to Pharaoh.” The word bo is the singularContinue reading “Shabbat Bo: “Come” to Pharaoh”

Shabbat Shemot: Do you Know your Name?

What makes you cry out? Why has much of the Jewish educational establishment been so concerned about the possibility of Jews joining in the U.S. celebration of Christmas? There are some good reasons.  For many generations of Jewish exile, Christmas was a mortally dangerous time. Hatred of Jews was used throughout medieval Europe as aContinue reading “Shabbat Shemot: Do you Know your Name?”

Shabbat VaYehi: Death and Love

It is far easier to talk about loss than it is to talk about love. It is easier to articulate the pain of love’s absence than to describe its presence and meaning in our lives. – bell hooks I believe profoundly in the power of Torah learning to help us deepen our spiritual grounding andContinue reading “Shabbat VaYehi: Death and Love”

Shabbat VaYigash: Stick Together

וְדַבֵּ֣ר אֲלֵיהֶ֗ם כֹּֽה־אָמַר֮ אֲדֹנָ֣י ה’ הִנֵּ֨ה אֲנִ֤י לֹקֵ֙חַ֙ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מִבֵּ֥ין הַגּוֹיִ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֣ר הָֽלְכוּ־שָׁ֑ם וְקִבַּצְתִּ֤י אֹתָם֙ מִסָּבִ֔יב וְהֵבֵאתִ֥י אוֹתָ֖ם אֶל־אַדְמָתָֽם׃ Declare to them: This word is holy. The Israelite people will be gathered from among the nations they have gone to, from every corner of the world, and they will come to their own landContinue reading “Shabbat VaYigash: Stick Together”