An Honest Mistake

It was my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary. For their special day, Dad had commissioned a piece from an Italian glass blower. Mom loved fancy lamps, so Dad bought her a Morano handmade chandelier. It had cost him a pretty penny, and it had taken the artist half a year to create. You should have seen… Read More

Lighting a Fire

When we enter this week’s parsha, Beha’alotecha, God is speaking for the first time from inside theMishkan (Tabernacle), from the space above the ark. God instructs Moses to tell Aaron that he should mount and light the lamps of the menorah and to show Aaron how to do so.

Torah and Liberty

On a recent outing with my students to visit the extraordinary National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, we took a short detour to the Liberty Bell Center, which sits conveniently across Independence Mall from the NMAJH.  There is tremendous symbolism to the balance of the particular story of the Jewish people in America… Read More

Glimpse Of The Divine

It was one of my first days as a chaplain resident at the University of Virginia Health System. As I visited patients during my regular rounds, I entered the room of a middle-aged man who was being treated for cancer.  We were different ages and came from dissimilar communities and backgrounds.  I was just 30;… Read More

Where Are We Going, What Are We Doing?

A few years ago, I took a trip to Phoenix. The highlight was a day-long outing to the Grand Canyon. If you have been there, you know how absolutely breathtaking the first sight of the Grand Canyon is. After looking out into the canyon for quite some time, I decided to engage in one of… Read More

Lessons Of A ‘Loser’: How Chaim Gained His Confidence

I hated recess. No one believes me, but it is true. Our recess looked something like this: Ari would split the boys up into teams for kickball.  I was mostly chosen last. “Can’t you kick a ball?”  Ari, the oldest guy in class, would yell from the grass, as I was up to the plate…. Read More

Counted

Fifty general sessions, eight Little Limmud sessions, one amazing opening session facilitated by Jakir Manela and an eye-opening lunch program discussing the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Gwynn Oak Park. Ten pounds of egg salad, 150 bagels, 200 desserts.  Four Taste of Limmud events, 16 Divrei Torah in the Baltimore Jewish Times, hundreds of flyers… Read More

A Modern Spiritual Earth Day Interpretation

As Earth Day approaches, we must ask ourselves: Have we been good stewards of the land? Professor Arnold M. Eisen of the Jewish Theological Seminary perceives this parsha as the Biblical-era “way for the community to set itself right with God and one another.” Eisen references medieval commentator Nahmanides: “The deeds of the ancestors are a sign… Read More

Skin-Deep Storytelling

In this week’s double Parsha,Tazria/Metzora, the Torah teaches about a spiritual malady that manifested itself physically in the form of scaly patches on the skin. This disease,tzara’at, is often mistranslated as leprosy, but they are two separate conditions with two different sets of symptoms.

B’Teavon

At first read, it seems difficult to find a convergent theme for parshat Shemini. The parsha begins with the inauguration of the Mishkan, God’s “earthly dwelling place.” The great happiness of this inauguration is clouded by the death of Nadav and Avihu, two of Aaron’s sons, who had brought an “alien offering” (10:2). However, Aaron’s enigmatic silence… Read More