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 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”

Rosh HaShanah 5780 – The Akedah: Stop Killing the Future

Rosh HaShanah 5780 Akedah D’var Torah: Stop Killing the Future   Have you seen the Greta Thunburg helpline? It’s “for adults angry at a child.” The video I saw begins with a middle-aged white man who calls the helpline and confesses that he’s been screaming at the image of Greta addressing the U.N. Climate Summit.Continue reading “Rosh HaShanah 5780 – The Akedah: Stop Killing the Future”

Shabbat VaEra: To Appear, Perchance to be Seen

Our parashat hashavua (the week’s Torah text) describes the ultimate I-Thou moment, between Moshe Rabbenu (the way Moses is known in our tradition, as “Moshe our Rabbi”) and HaShem (the way G*d is known in our tradition. Out of respect, the word “adonai” is avoided, in speech and in print, outside of prayer). ‘וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֵלָ֖יוContinue reading “Shabbat VaEra: To Appear, Perchance to be Seen”

Shabbat Hayye Sarah: Make It Holy

On this Shabbat we will do what we always do, and what Jews in all times and circumstances have done: we will carry on with that which makes our lives meaningful. We will celebrate Shabbat with family of origin and family of choice, and with friends both old, and those newly moved to be withContinue reading “Shabbat Hayye Sarah: Make It Holy”

Shabbat Ekev: Listen With Care

Which of us is not angry, disappointed, even resentful, of the way our lives have changed in the past few years? Aren’t we all getting very tired of the stress served up daily by the media, infusing our every interaction with each other? Of course, there is more than one response to this situation. InContinue reading “Shabbat Ekev: Listen With Care”

Shabbat BeHar-BeHukotai: Love Your Mother

This week we finish reading the Book VaYikra, Leviticus, with another double parashat hashavua. The name of the first of the two, BeHar, offers already a nice little learning. The word behar, actually three words in English, means “at the mountain” and refers to Mount Sinai. The first verse goes on to specify: וַיְדַבֵּר ה’ אֶל-מֹשֶׁה,Continue reading “Shabbat BeHar-BeHukotai: Love Your Mother”

Shabbat VaEra: Revelation Hurts

The name of this week’s parashat hashavua is VaEra, “I appeared.” This, simply put and so very understated, is the epic moment in which Moshe experiences Divine Revelation. G*d becomes unmistakably, believably, manifest. All subsequent experiences of revelation in Jewish history fall short of it; as the last words of the Torah will put itContinue reading “Shabbat VaEra: Revelation Hurts”

Shabbat Ekev: Can You Hear the Footsteps?

Our parashat hashavua, the part of the Torah we study this week, is called Ekev. The word refers to a certain sense of causality: “it will happen that all will be well with you because you follow the divine law” says Moshe to the Israelites: as a result of your devotion to this path, youContinue reading “Shabbat Ekev: Can You Hear the Footsteps?”

Shabbat Kedoshim: Neither Inaccessible Nor Absurd

Our parashat hashavua (“section of the week”, i.e. the part of the Torah assigned by ancient Jewish tradition for this week in the Jewish calendar) begins with the most inaccessible and ludicrous of demands:  “Speak to the People Israel and say to them, ‘be holy [kadosh], as I ‘ה your G*d am holy [kadosh]’.” (Lev. 19.2) But when weContinue reading “Shabbat Kedoshim: Neither Inaccessible Nor Absurd”