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

The Divine Commands of Creation Parshat Eikev

“V’haya im shamoa — If then, you listen, yes, you really heed My commandments that I enjoin upon you this day, loving the Eternal your God and serving [God] with all your heart and soul, I will grant the rain for your land in its season. … You shall gather in your new grain and… Read More

A Celebration of B’nai Yisrael

Today, we read Parshat Va’etchanan. We see the beautiful words of the Shema that tells all of B’nai Yisrael that there is only one God. Earlier, when God commanded Moses to talk to the rock so it would give water again, Moses got angry. Instead of talking to the rock, he hit the rock with… Read More

What Exactly Do We Mourn?

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The bleakest fast of the Hebrew calendar is on the ninth of Av, Tisha B’Av, commemorating the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem (in 586 BCE, and 70 CE). We begin preparing ourselves to feel the enormity of the loss three weeks before, from the 17th of Tammuz, with a sunrise-to-sunset fast on the date… Read More

Embracing the Journey Parshat Matot-Masei

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Undoubtedly, the Exodus stands as the central event of our  nation’s collective consciousness, an event that we invoke daily in the Shema, on the Sabbath, on festivals and after every meal. Still, when we consider the detail that our portion of Masei devotes to recording all 42 stops of the 40-year desert sojourn, we’re a… Read More

Names We Should Always Remember Parshat Pinchas, Numbers 27:1-11

The story of the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 27:1-11) has all of the earmarks of a Jane Austen novel: the disenfranchisement and injustices borne by women surrounding the question of inheritance rights; the formal but respectful articulation of the grievances of those women; the dramatic and triumphant vindication of their plight and plea. The story… Read More