Shabbat Shavuot: community – a healing of spiritual exile

The mystical doctrine of the sefirot clearly shows that we are all connected. We just don’t always sense it. We spend our life learning through experience and observation that, contrary to the popular American slogan, we are not really “rugged individuals”, solitarily in control of our own fate. First we learn that others will tellContinue reading “Shabbat Shavuot: community – a healing of spiritual exile”

Shabbat BeHa’alot’kha: We Need More Light

The days are as long as they get right now, yet we need light desperately: the light of hope, the light of healing, the light of happiness, all obscured in the horror of realizing that our own Federal government is operating concentration camps full of children and adults who are innocent of any crime.  Continue reading “Shabbat BeHa’alot’kha: We Need More Light”

Shabbat Matot-Masey: We’re In This Together

Shalom Shir Tikvah Learning Community, On this Shabbat we read a double parashah, both Matot and Masey, and at the end of it we finish the Book BaMidbar, the account of much wandering in geography and in relationships. And in this specific Torah narrative, part of the second year of the Triennial Cycle of reading,Continue reading “Shabbat Matot-Masey: We’re In This Together”

Shabbat Naso: Look Me In The Eye

The word that identifies this week’s Torah text is naso, part of the idiom naso et rosh, is correctly translated “take a census,” or, more simply, “count heads.” The actual Hebrew wording is more beautiful; it literally says “lift up the head.” In other words, for our ancestors, to count someone was to look that person in the eye, and toContinue reading “Shabbat Naso: Look Me In The Eye”

Shabbat Bereshit: Till It and Tend It

This Shabbat we return to our regularly-scheduled Torah, as it were, after the excitement on Simkhat Torah of reading the very end and the very beginning of the scroll. Moshe Rabbenu, Moses our teacher, dies, and is bewailed, and then the people move on – and we find ourselves, following them, suddenly in a GardenContinue reading “Shabbat Bereshit: Till It and Tend It”

Shabbat Mishpatim / Shabbat Shekalim: Community – The Difficulty Is In the Details

Every year we study once again the account of the moment when our people stood at the foot of Mt Sinai, witnessed a revelation, and became a community. Literally a “peak moment,” our commentators teach that this was the only time in all the history of our People of Israel when we were of oneContinue reading “Shabbat Mishpatim / Shabbat Shekalim: Community – The Difficulty Is In the Details”

Shabbat Yitro: Community comes from Sinai

On this Shabbat Yitro our parashat hashavua describes the moment of standing at Sinai, that moment that made us a community. Close readers of the Torah such as our ancient and modern commentators and interpreters have long noted that the Torah speaks of those who came out of Egypt as an erev-rav, a “mixed multitude,”Continue reading “Shabbat Yitro: Community comes from Sinai”

Shabbat Miketz: All of a Sudden, Change

You know where you stand, you know your path forward, you’ve spent time deciding what your future is going to look like. And then something happens, all of a sudden, and your plans….they get eaten up like the seven fat cows of Pharaoh’s dream. Every year we read parashat Miketz on a Shabbat that coincidesContinue reading “Shabbat Miketz: All of a Sudden, Change”

Shabbat Ki Tisa: Thinking Outside Your Self

This is the Shabbat of parashat Ki Tisa, the most famous part of which is the debacle of the Golden Calf. On one foot (the Jewish idiom for “in a nutshell”): We have just lived through the glorious commitment ceremony between us and G-d, and received the promise of the Torah (at least the AseretContinue reading “Shabbat Ki Tisa: Thinking Outside Your Self”

Shabbat Nakhamu: finding consolation together

On Tuesday of this week, the world fell apart for Jews 1,941 years ago. In 72 CE the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed by the mighty Roman Empire on 9 Av, which this year corresponds to Tuesday July 16. The tragedy was as great in its time as the Shoah (called in English the Holocaust) isContinue reading “Shabbat Nakhamu: finding consolation together”