Bringing Light Into Lives

This week we read from Parshat Terumah. This parshah describes the construction of the tabernacle, which is the traveling place of worship for the Israelites during their travels in the desert. The word terumah means donation or gift. The Israelites were asked by Moshe to bring gifts for the mishkan, the tabernacle, which was the… Read More

Rules and Regulations

After the Revelation at Sinai, after the giving of the Ten Commandments, after the thunder and lightning and the mountain covered in a cloud of smoke — what could possibly come next? What could follow that spectacular event? Rules and regulations: ordinary, mundane, everyday rules about how to live in a society. The contrast between… Read More

Becoming the Best Person I Can Be

In this week’s parshah, God hands down the Ten Commandments to the Jewish people. With these laws, the group of tribes finally becomes united as a nation, establishing a covenant between themselves and God. Essentially, this is a contract: If the Jewish people follow the commandments, God will protect them and provide for them. But… Read More

A Model of Jewish Leadership

This Shabbat we read Parshat Beshallach and the “Song of Devorah” from the Book of Judges. The haftarah focuses on Devorah, a prophet and judge, and Barak, a general. They lead the Jews in a battle against the Canaanites. Devorah asks Barak to gather 10,000 men and go up to Mount Tabor and fight the… Read More

Can You Be Free and Torah-Observant?

Moses told Pharaoh that the G-d of the Jews said: “Let My people go, and they will worship Me.” While the Torah narrative is often portrayed as us leaving the bondage of Egypt to be free to do whatever we want, the truth is that the Torah asserts that “My people” were let go so… Read More

Plagued by the Plagues

This week’s Torah portion  has always troubled me. The plagues, with their collective punishment caused by the sins of Pharaoh, always seemed unnecessarily cruel to the Egyptian people. Perhaps some of the Egyptians were complicit in Pharaoh’s enslavement scheme, but we can assume that the ordinary people were not. It is they who suffered the… Read More

Sleepless Nights, Enlightened Days

Can you sleep at night? There is so much trouble in the world. Violence, wars large and small, natural disasters, disease. We all personally know many who are suffering at this very moment. Some are friends and acquaintances living in plain sight. Others are individuals in the media, people whose pain we see portrayed daily… Read More

How Shall We Bless Those Who Come After Us?

According to Jewish tradition, on the eve of Shabbat and holidays, before reciting Kiddush, parents bless their children. You can find these blessings in your siddur. There you will see that sons are blessed with these words: “May God inspire you to live like Ephraim and Manasseh.” Rashi teaches that the blessing for boys is… Read More

The Bond of Brotherliness

Why does Joseph suddenly wake up to his familial ties and reveal himself as the long-lost son and brother? Apparently, he was inspired by Judah’s stirring speech that opens our Torah reading. How did Judah strike such a responsive chord in a Joseph, whose heart had previously been so impervious to filial and sibling sensitivity?… Read More

But by My Spirit

It is a common scene in the United States at this time of year. The shopping malls, television commercials and all public venues are transformed visually. As Dec. 25 approaches, we see the evidence that we do indeed live in a predominantly Christian country. Images of Santa Claus and his reindeer, evergreen trees with dazzling… Read More