Shabbat VaYeshev: Justice by the Light of the Hanukkah Menorah

You may very well be wrong in your first impression – Love, Tamar In the second year of the Triennial Cycle of Torah reading, we find that the focus of the parashat hashavua (“Torah reading of the week”) is the story of Tamar in Bereshit, also called Genesis, in chapter 38. After the strange silence imposed upon Dinah inContinue reading “Shabbat VaYeshev: Justice by the Light of the Hanukkah Menorah”

Shabbat Emor: Against the Cruelty

In this second year of the Triennial Cycle of Torah reading, our congregation, like many others throughout the Jewish world, begins to read not at the beginning of parashat Emor but with chapter 22, verse 17. This is about one-third of the way in, since the Triennial Cycle makes its way through one third of eachContinue reading “Shabbat Emor: Against the Cruelty”

Rosh HaShanah 5778 – the Shofar’s call: Get Woke

 Shanah Tovah!   Tomorrow we will gather to experience one of the most important spiritual moments of this day that we call Rosh HaShanah, the New Year. That experience is the sounding of the Shofar. Although it may not seem to us to be the ultimate purpose of our sacred gathering, the sounding of theContinue reading “Rosh HaShanah 5778 – the Shofar’s call: Get Woke”

Shabbat Va’Era: How Does G-d Appear To You?

The parashat hashavua, the Torah reading of the week, begins in an entirely perplexing way: ב  וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹהִים, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה; וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו, אֲנִי יְהוָה. G-d spoke to Moses, saying to him: ‘I am YHVH; ג  וָאֵרָא, אֶל-אַבְרָהָם אֶל-יִצְחָק וְאֶל-יַעֲקֹב–בְּאֵל שַׁדָּי; וּשְׁמִי יְהוָה, לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as El Shaddai butContinue reading “Shabbat Va’Era: How Does G-d Appear To You?”

Shabbat Ki Tavo: What Kind of Jew Are You?

This week’s parashah begins with a rare example of actual prayer formula in ancient Israel. Most of the time, “prayer”, that is, seeking to communicate with G-d, was expressed in a non-verbal form, that of sacrifice. A close look at the book VaYikra (Leviticus) will demonstrate the truth my former teacher taught in his book TheContinue reading “Shabbat Ki Tavo: What Kind of Jew Are You?”

Shabbat Tazria 5774: Watch For Rot

Our parashat hashavua (“reading of the week”) is one of the more misunderstood of the entire Torah. It seems to be entirely too consumed with concern regarding the appearance of discolorations on a person’s skin or hair. The first verse of our reading this year, the third of the Triennial Cycle, begins: When a man orContinue reading “Shabbat Tazria 5774: Watch For Rot”

Shabbat Bereshit 5774: Take a Bite

 This is very simply a photograph of an apple I bought at an Israeli grocery store. The sticker on it it what makes it priceless: Bereshit (“Genesis”) / taam Gan Eden (“the taste of the Garden of Eden”) The term Bereshit is the name of an Israeli fruit produce company. The word eden is related to the HebrewContinue reading “Shabbat Bereshit 5774: Take a Bite”

parashat Re’eh: See Your Power to Bless

See, I set before you blessing and curse. (Dev. 11.26) For Maimonides, the opening verse of this week’s parashah means that the choice of blessing and curse are before us. This is the proof of our free will. This question, of the meaning of human existence in a world which is immersed in G-d, has been seenContinue reading “parashat Re’eh: See Your Power to Bless”