Shabbat Zakhor, parashat Tetzaveh, and Purim 5773

This Shabbat we read parashat Tetzaveh, and also mark one of the special Shabbatot of the months leading to Pesakh. The observance of Shabbat Zakhor, “Remember”, includes a special Torah reading describing the attack by the Amalekites on the Israelites as they were leaving Egypt, very early on in the journey. The Amalekites swooped down on the rearContinue reading “Shabbat Zakhor, parashat Tetzaveh, and Purim 5773”

Parashat hashavuah: Terumah – Lift It Up

The parashat hashavua this week begins with a command: “Tell the Israelite people that when they take up an offering for Me; every person whose heart is moved to generosity can make that offering.” (Exodus 25.2) This begins the narrative of the building of the Mishkan, the sacred space in which the Israelite people would focus upon being in God’sContinue reading “Parashat hashavuah: Terumah – Lift It Up”

parashat hashavua commentary: Bo

This week’s parashah begins with God’s command to Moshe to once again confront Pharaoh, the great ruler of Egypt who has repeatedly refused to agree to Moshe’s plea to let our people go. One of the strange aspects of the parashah begins with the phrase that gives the parashah its name: Bo, “come”. Why “come to Pharaoh” instead of the more logical “GoContinue reading “parashat hashavua commentary: Bo”

Va’Era: parashat hashavua commentary

This week’s parashat hashavua, Va’Era, derives its name from a curious assertion on the part of none other than God about the names by which we know God: I am יהוה  – I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by the name El Shaddai, but my name יהוה they did not come to know. (Ex.6.2-3). What’s a bit strange about this is thatContinue reading “Va’Era: parashat hashavua commentary”

discrimination is so last century

The news that Rev Louie Giglio has withdrawn from the Inauguration because of an inauspicious sermon is both too bad and an encouraging sign. It’s too bad because the Jewish tradition I follow suggests that he should have been given room to atone for words spoken many years ago, and not judged on a positionContinue reading “discrimination is so last century”

What’s in a (Jewish) name?

Last week in the Jewish world of Torah study we began reading the Book Shemot, called in English (or Greek, actually) “Exodus”. We know very well what is going to happen here: the Israelites, who moved to Egypt to escape a famine, have now found themselves enslaved in the service of constructing massive Pharaonic building projects. Everything startedContinue reading “What’s in a (Jewish) name?”

Looking for Light in the Connecticut Darkness

The Shabbat of Hanukkah comes on the heels of terrible news of tragedy in Newtown Connecticut. As one reporter said, it is truly overwhelming to consider a young man who would shoot, and keep shooting, innocent small children – and his mother, their teacher – at an elementary school, in a kindergarten classroom. That youngContinue reading “Looking for Light in the Connecticut Darkness”