Shabbat VaYishlakh: Becoming Whole By Becoming Oneself

There’s a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in – Leonard Cohen ז״ל In this week’s parashah, the eponymous ancestor of the People of Israel is given the name Israel. The deceiving, conniving, too smart by half Jacob has apparently achieved some kind of transition. The people Israel has for two thousandContinue reading “Shabbat VaYishlakh: Becoming Whole By Becoming Oneself”

Shabbat Pinhas: The Three Weeks

This year, Shabbat Pinhas is the first Shabbat of the Three Weeks.   These three weeks are the least auspicious period in the entire Jewish year, leading up as they do to Tisha B’Av, the day on which, two thousand years ago, the Second Jerusalem Temple was destroyed. Our people began a two thousand yearContinue reading “Shabbat Pinhas: The Three Weeks”

Shabbat Devarim: It Gets Worse

An ox knows its master and an ass knows where the food is; but Israel does not know, my people is thoughtless.”  (Isaiah 1.3)   The haftarah for this Shabbat gives the Shabbat its name: Hazon, “[prophetic] vision.” It is always chanted on this Shabbat before Tisha b’Av, the day of mourning for the destructionContinue reading “Shabbat Devarim: It Gets Worse”

Shabbat VaYikra/Shabbat HaHodesh: The Small Alef

This Shabbat we begin the book VaYikra, Leviticus. The first word of the narrative is the book’s name, a word which is Hebrew for “[and] he called.” The lack of pronouns indicate that this is a continuation of an earlier story, and indeed the content fits that assumption. We have just ended the detailed descriptionContinue reading “Shabbat VaYikra/Shabbat HaHodesh: The Small Alef”

Shabbat VaYakhel-Pekudey/Shabbat Parah: Holy Tents and Sacred Cows

This week I am privileged to share an erev Shabbat thought with you from Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel. Soon a group of Shir Tikvah congregational family and friends will arrive and I look forward to greeting them soon at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. I’ve come a few days early to seeContinue reading “Shabbat VaYakhel-Pekudey/Shabbat Parah: Holy Tents and Sacred Cows”

Shabbat Toldot: Trust, Despite Everything

In parashat Toldot we read of the birth of the twins Esau and Jacob, born to Rebekah and Isaac after years of trying to get pregnant, and much frustration and difficulty. The family that is created when the children are safely born seems to thrive: their parents succeed in helping their boys to find forContinue reading “Shabbat Toldot: Trust, Despite Everything”

(next week) Shabbat VaYehi: What’s the Last Word?

Our parashat hashavua this week concludes not only the Book Bereshit but also the saga of Jacob, Joseph and his brothers, and that entire generation. One of the most fascinating passages in the parashah describes Jacob, on his deathbed, and his last words to his sons. Although we refer to the scene as Jacob’s deathbedContinue reading “(next week) Shabbat VaYehi: What’s the Last Word?”

Shabbat Nitzavim: What We Owe

Our parashat hashavua (Torah reading of the week) begins with quite a compelling scene: the entire Israelite community, gathered together on just the other side of the Jordan River from the Land of forty years’ struggle and search. The parashah begins with “you are standing this day, all of you, before G*d….to enter into theContinue reading “Shabbat Nitzavim: What We Owe”

Shabbat VaYetze: Trans Torah on Trans Day of Remembrance

On Shabbat VaYetze we read of Jacob’s leaving his family under threat of death from his brother. His escape is hurried and frightened, and his path traces an ironic reversal of Abraham’s, as Jacob has to leave his family home, the homeland promised to his grandfather’s and father’s descendants, and his people just to survive.Continue reading “Shabbat VaYetze: Trans Torah on Trans Day of Remembrance”