Protecting Lives Parshat Acharei Mot, Levitcus 16-18:30

“You shall keep My laws and My rules; and live by them; I am God” (Leviticus 18:5). I am delving into this line because Jewish clergy are being asked this week to speak out on the issue of domestic abuse in our communities. “Domestic abuse occurs in the Jewish community at the same rate as… Read More

Changing the World While Counting the Omer

This Shabbat is the last day of Passover (Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17 and Numbers 28:25), and we can put aside (or throw out) any remaining matzoh and  return to our everyday lives. But can we really? Is the holiday truly finished? Yes, Passover is finished here in the diaspora after eight days, but it actually isn’t finished… Read More

The First Jewish Doctors Parschat Tazria, Leviticus 12:1-13:59

In 1990, Dr. Gail Wilensky asked me to make an invocation at her installation as director of Medicare and Medicaid. I included Birkat Ha-kohanim, the priestly blessing, since the Torah speaks about the role of the Kohen in diagnosing illness and disease. It also makes the kohanim responsible for public health, although not necessarily as… Read More

The Open Curtain Parshat Tzav; Leviticus 6:1-8:36

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

One day we were to study page 55 in the tractate Zevachim. This tome deals with laws pertaining to the ritual sacrifices in the Holy Temple. The biblical basis of these laws is found in this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36). There, we learn about a variety of voluntary sacrifices that individuals can… Read More

Reviving a Jewish Court

During the centuries of its existence, the Sanhedrin — the great Jewish court of the First and Second Commonwealths, comprised of 71 elders and sages — ruled on every aspect of life and brought unity to the land in decisions binding on the entire nation. Its members had to be recipients of the classic Jewish… Read More

Synagogue Equals Community Parshat Pekudei

This shabbat we read Parshat Pekudei, and the Haftarah is from the Book of Kings. The connection between the Torah and Haftarah portion is the building of the tabernacle and the first temple. The tabernacle was built in the desert by Bezalel, and the first Temple was built in Jerusalem by King Solomon. We may… Read More

Time to Plug Out Parshat Vayakhel

EFRAT, Israel — Why can’t I go on Facebook on Shabbat or text my friend? I understand that it is forbidden for me to get involved in a physical action such as bricklaying or even working an eight-hour day in the office, but what kind of work is involved in a simple text to a… Read More

The Lowly High Priest Parshat Tetzaveh

I’ve always been amazed at the complexity of the Hebrew language. One of the most profound examples is the word ga’avah, which can be translated as pride — something we all wish to possess, something we’re taught is an important sought-after trait; but ga’avah can just as easily be translated as arrogance, a repugnant trait,… Read More

My House, and His House Parshat Terumah

There is a well-known joke that is told about the Jews that I find particularly sad. The joke tells of a group of explorers who find a Jew who has been stranded on a desert island for years. As he takes them around the island and shows them how he survived, they find that he… Read More