Shabbat Hazon: What We Have Done, and What We Must Learn

It is not up to you to finish the work, but you are not excused from your part in it – Pirke Avot We begin our immersion into the Book of Devarim, Deuteronomy, this week. The first parashah of this book is always the prescribed learning for the Shabbat immediately preceding Tisha B’Av. Tisha B’Av,Continue reading “Shabbat Hazon: What We Have Done, and What We Must Learn”

Shabbat Pinkhas: The Three Weeks

חָנֵּנִי ה’ כִּי אֻמְלַל אָנִי רְפָאֵנִי ה’ כִּי נִבְהֲלוּ עֲצָמָי וְנַפְשִׁי נִבְהֲלָה מְאֹד ואת ה’ עַד מָתָי Heal me, for I am very low. I am chaos within. My soul is in very great chaos, and you, HaShem, how long? – Takhanun  Today a man will be buried who died in the heat wave thisContinue reading “Shabbat Pinkhas: The Three Weeks”

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 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 Nakhamu: Sometimes the Answer is No

This Shabbat we study the second parashah of Devarim, Deuteronomy, called Va’Etkhanan, “I implored.” The name refers to the pleading of Moshe Rabbenu, Moses our Teacher, to be allowed to enter the Land of Promise which has been his life’s dream and every day work. According to the Midrash (ancient Rabbinical literature which show usContinue reading “Shabbat Nakhamu: Sometimes the Answer is No”

Shabbat Hazon and erev Tisha B’Av: a Shabbat of Vision

This is a Shabbat of vision, and of the center falling apart. Although it would be easier, more poetic, to see a vision rising from destruction, life these days is not so lyrical. Rather, on this Shabbat, the last before Tisha B’Av, the vision we contemplate is of destruction, misery and death: עַל מֶה תֻכּוּContinue reading “Shabbat Hazon and erev Tisha B’Av: a Shabbat of Vision”

Tisha B’Av 5774: May Our Mourning Soon Turn to Celebration

Today, the 9th day of Av, is one of intense mourning. For two thousand years the People of Israel has mourned the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple on this day. In 586 BCE Solomon’s Temple, paneled with cedar from Lebanon, was destroyed by the Babylonian Empire’s army; in 70 CE the Second Temple, begun byContinue reading “Tisha B’Av 5774: May Our Mourning Soon Turn to Celebration”