Better the Servant than the Student Parshat Chayei Sarah

“You can’t find decent help these days!” This is a common complaint heard in middle-class homes, particularly in Jewish kitchens during the season of preparations for Passover. Happily, my wife and I have been blessed, over the years, with some excellent domestic help. Usually, they were African-American women who were not only honest, efficient and… Read More

Staying Connected Parshat Vayera

Judaism values a personal connection to the Torah. It values concentration and mental discipline. Perhaps most of all, Judaism values memory. By that, I do not mean learning by rote. I mean memory in a much larger context. Judaism values memories. Judaism grooms our ability to remember and connect to the past; to use our… Read More

The Power of Community Parshat Lech Lecha

This Shabbat, we read Parshat Lech Lecha, and the haftarah is from the Book of Isaiah. In the beginning of the haftarah, God tells the Israelites that they are His people and that they shouldn’t be afraid. God affirms His support for them, saying, “I uphold you with My victorious right hand.” Throughout the haftarah,… Read More

Trusting in God Parshat Lech Lecha

The haftarah for Parshat Lech Lecha is from the Book of Isaiah. Isaiah wrote during the time when the Israelites were in exile in Babylon. The people feared that they would never be able to return home. They felt abandoned by God. After all, the Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem and their beloved Temple. The prophet… Read More

‘Pennies for Preemies’ Parshat Noach

This week’s Torah portion is Parshat Noach, and my Haftarah is from the Book of Isaiah. As a result of the flooding Israel was experiencing,Isaiah likens Israel to a barren woman whom God is ignoring. Now, Isaiah is not saying literally that Israel is a barren woman, but he is expressing that all things that… Read More

‘Angelic Advice’ Parshat Bereshis

It is a lesson that I was first taught as a schoolchild, just beginning to study Torah. But, like so many other important lessons in life, I ignored it back then, only to finally learn it as an adult. But then, I learned it the hard way. The lesson was a simple one: Don’t make… Read More

Let’s Not Lose Sight of What’s Important Ki Tisa

This week, we read from the Torah portion Ki Tisa.  We read this portion during Sukkot because Sukkot is a celebratory holiday. This portion reminds us of the true meaning of the holiday, which is even more. It reminds us that there are consequences for our actions. Often on Sukkot, people are joyous and throw… Read More

Placing Our Trust in God’s Protection Divar Torah

This Shabbat, Hol Ha Moed Sukkot, we read from the Book of Ezekiel. During the holiday of Sukkot, the themes of destruction and renewal occur. The prophets associated the theme of warfare, followed by hope and redemption, with the holiday of Sukkot. They anticipated the day to come when all the nations would witness universal… Read More

Holy History or Sacred Seeds? Shabbat Sukkot

The Three Festivals we celebrate are powerful connectors of the Jewish people across time and space. Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot each provide essential connections for us in the world of land and food. But each carries a powerful connection with God through our history as well. Most of us get the historical connection more easily…. Read More

Repression of the Sublime Parshat Ha’azinu

It was advertised as one symposium at a major psychology conference. It was to be a discussion about memory and forgetfulness. But it turned out to be one of the most intense and instructive days that I have ever witnessed. The first speaker began by insisting that the fact that we remember things is obvious…. Read More