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”

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”