The Light That Is Israel

This week’s haftarah is from the Book of Isaiah, chosen because it refers to the creation of the world. In the Torah portion, G-d creates light and darkness for the entire universe. In the haftarah, Isaiah says, “I will turn darkness before them to light.” Here, the darkness refers to the Israelites not obeying G-d’s… Read More

First, We Must Perfect Ourselves

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This magnificent three-week festival period — Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot — may be viewed and experienced in two dimensions simultaneously: the universalist, nationalist dimension and the particularistic, individual family dimension. Rosh Hashanah is the day on which the world was born, when the sigh-sob truah sound of the shofar cries out against the tragedies… Read More

Following in the Acts of Our Creator

Yom Kippur is one of the most observed days in Jewish culture. The power of the day is awesome. The reality of its importance is known. The stir of thoughts and emotions leading up to it help us create the awareness of the day. One of the most central principles to Yom Kippur is asking… Read More

Nursing Them With Honey From the Rock

I’ve always thought it curious that it is customary on the holiday of Shavuot to eat foods made of sweet dairy — cheese blintzes, cheesecake and so on. In all my childhood and adult years, I never heard a reason for this that made sense. One year, in my reading of this week’s parshah, an… Read More

In the Good Old Days

It was the kind of thing you would hear from old men: “Things just ain’t the way they used to be.” “This new generation is going to hell in a hand basket.” “I remember when things were different and better, back in the good old days!” Now that I am becoming a bit older myself,… Read More

We Are What We Remember

The last paragraph of Ki Tetze is the maftir reading in non-Reform congregations on the Shabbat before Purim. Its opening word, zachor, remember, names that Shabbat. “Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey after you left Egypt — how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were… Read More

The Participant Observer

I have had a long and abiding interest in the process by which we make decisions. Long ago, I was taught that the best way to make a decision is to impartially examine all of the relevant facts. Impartiality guarantees objectivity. Sadly, however, we are seldom truly impartial, and therefore, our ability to make objective… Read More

Revealing His Word from Jerusalem

“But the place which the Lord your God shall choose from among all of your tribes to place His Name there, for His dwelling place, shall you seek and shall you come there. And you shall bring there your whole burnt offerings and your sacrifices.” (Deuteronomy 12:5-6) Apparently, the Torah is speaking of our Holy… Read More

A Promise of Blessing

This week’s Torah portion, Eikev, begins relating God’s promise of blessing to the people of Israel. They are about to enter the Promised Land, where God will increase the yield of their harvests and the fertility of their families and livestock if they listen to God. One blessing after another flows through the first verses…. Read More

Do Not Make Yourself a Pesel, Lest Torah Become an Idol

In the next parshah, Moses will tell the Israelite people: “Thereupon the Eternal One said to me, ‘Carve out two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to Me on the mountain; and make an ark of wood. I will inscribe on the tablets the commandments that were on the first tablets that… Read More