Being the Right Kind of Agnostic Parshat Noach

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When it comes to questions of belief, the agnostic is the loneliest of all. On one side of the fence stands the atheist, confident in his rejection of God and often dedicated to the debunking of religion.  the other side stands the  believer, who glories in his faith that the universe is the handiwork of… Read More

The Power of Light Parshat Bereshit, Genesis 1:1-6:8

This week, we read from Parshat Bereshit. Berershit is the first parsha in the Torah. According to the Torah, God created the world in seven days. He separated night from day and light from darkness. “God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from darkness. God called the light day, and… Read More

A Failure of Leadership Parshat Haazinu

This is one of the shorter sections of the Torah, and it is made up almost entirely of a breathtaking and chastening poem. The term “awesome” tends to be overused today, but this poem is truly awesome.  Unfortunately, the power of the Hebrew rhythm and poetic style is lost in the English translation, but we… Read More

Hiding from Ourselves Parshat Vayeilech

The Chasidic tradition brings us the following story: “One day Rabbi Ber was walking with some of his Chasidim when he saw a little girl standing behind a wall and crying. ‘Why are you crying, little girl?’ he asked. ‘I was playing hide-and-seek with my friends,’ said the little girl, ‘and they didn’t come to… Read More

Evolving Religions Parshat Nitzavim

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The Syrian refugee crisis has prompted public debate worldwide, especially in the U.S. presidential campaign, over the issue of immigration. Should a nation’s top priority be to meet the humanitarian needs of people attempting to flee a war zone? Or should it be to emphasize national security concerns stemming from the terroristic affiliations of a… Read More

Don’t Look Back! Parshat Ki Tavo

One of the most beautiful and popular verses in Torah is found in this week’s parshah, Ki Tavo. In the midst of showering the People of Israel with blessings, G-d declares, “You will blessed when you come, and blessed when you go.” Rashi illuminates the meaning of the blessing to each individual: “May your departure… Read More

The External War, the Internal War Parshat Ki Teitzei

This week’s Torah portion is called Ki Teitzei — meaning literally, “When you go out.” It is a reference to violence and war. “When you take the field, [literally, “When you go out,”] against your enemies, and the Eternal your God delivers them into your power and you take some of them captive …” (Deuteronomy… Read More

Meeting the King Parshat Shoftim

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What is the essence of the exalted Hebrew month of Elul, the auspicious 30-day period of time prior to the Days of Awe in which, according to Chasidic philosophy, “The King is in the field,” when God is, as it were, more accessible to us than throughout the year? How might we best prepare ourselves… Read More

Stepping Up to Help Those in Need Parshat Re’eh

This week’s reading, Parshat Re’eh, includes the laws of kashrut and how to observe the three harvest festivals:  Pesach, Sukkot and Shavuot. I will be focusing on another theme from the reading, however: tithing. Tithing is when farmers take 10 percent of their yield and donate it to the priests and the poor. This is… Read More

Choosing the Path of Parshat Re’eh Parshat Re’eh

This Shabbat we read the parshah of Re’eh and my haftorah is from the prophet Isaiah,  recited on Rosh Chodesh. This new month is Rosh Chodesh Elul. The word Elul is an acronym for the Hebrew spelling, meaning “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” It can be interpreted as how people love… Read More