Parshat Toldot Eye to the Future

Today we read Parshat Toldot. Toldot describes two brothers, Esau and Jacob, who are total opposites. Esau, a courageous hunter, loves physical power. He does things on the spur of the moment. Jacob, on the other hand, is sensitive, gentle and plans in advance. He understands that in order to succeed, you must keep one foot… Read More

To Do What’s Right Parshat Vayera

Abraham’s story is dotted with memorable tests, many in this week’s Torah portion, Vayera. One incident that calls to us in every generation is the “holy chutzpah” of Abraham arguing with God over the possibility of innocent souls in Sodom and Gomorrah, which God has slated for total destruction. Abraham’s response seems shocking: “Will You… Read More

Parshah Lech Lecha Finding Our Journey

The title of the parshah Lech Lecha literally conveys the imagery of forward movement and the setting out on a journey that G-d promises will be accompanied by blessing. The portion teaches us that Abraham had to leave the familiarity of his home to travel amid uncertainty. While the journey will be difficult and he… Read More

The Floodwaters of Noah Parshat Noach

One of my favorite Shabbat zemirot (songs sung at the Shabbat meal) is “Yom Shabaton,” a song attributed to Rabbi Yehudah haLevi (1075-1140). The entire song centers around imagery from Parshat Noah. The chorus begins with the line “On [Shabbat] the dove found rest,” referring to the dove that Noah sent from the Ark to… Read More

Why Sukkot is Like the Love that Glows

On the Shabbat during Sukkot we read of Moshe’s second trip up Mount Sinai. When he returns, something startling happens: Moshe’s face radiates. As he speaks, the people are so afraid of it that he is obliged to put on a veil. Sukkot is the culmination of the Jewish holiday cycle. When we stand before… Read More

Yom Kippur’s Gift

One of the highlights of the Yom Kippur experience is the reading of Jonah, a book containing profound lessons for the holiest day of the year. God calls upon Jonah, son of Amitai, to implore the people of the city of Ninveh to repent. Jonah refuses to do so and believes he can escape God… Read More

When Will We Ever Learn? Parshat Ha’azinu

As we celebrate the new year, more and more of our relatives and friends are recovering from devastating disasters — a hurricane and flood in Texas and the Southeast, fires in the Northwest and, beyond our borders, an earthquake in Mexico and deadly monsoons in Bangladesh. Natural disasters are no longer something that only happen… Read More