The Distance Between Heaven and Earth Parshat Miketz


The festival of Chanukah celebrates the military victory of the Judeans over the Hellenist  Syrians in the second century B.C.E., as recorded in the Al Hanissim thanksgiving prayer added to our daily prayers and Grace after Meals for the eight days of the holiday. The festival also celebrates the ideological victory of Judaism over Greek… Read More

Practice Positive Pessimism and Partner with God Parshat Vayeishev

Most of us have grown up with the power of positive thinking. We’ve been warned about negative outlooks and what popular psychologists call “catastrophizing.” To have a successful outcome when facing a problem, we’re told that we need to avoid the bad and focus on the good. But there is another point of view. The… Read More

Jacob’s Strategy: A Model for Jewish Leadership? Parshat Vayishlach

Regular readers of this column on the weekly Torah portion are familiar with my style. They know that I usually focus upon some early personal memory and connect it to the parshah. Within each parshah, I select a less-known incident or relatively minor personality for reflection and elaboration. I rarely deal with the major issues… Read More

Climbing the Ladder of Responsibility Parshat Vayetzei

This Shabbat, we read a haftarah from the Book of Hosea. The prophet Hosea lived during the eighth century B.C.E. under King Jeroboam II’s rule, when Israel was divided into two kingdoms, the Northern consisting of 10 tribes and the Southern consisting of two tribes. In the haftarah, Jacob is compared to the Northern Kingdom… Read More

What Would You Hold Onto — At Any Price? Parshat Vayetzei

The show “Pawn Stars” is a runaway hit on the History Channel. It tells the story of three generations of the Harrison family and their Las Vegas pawnshop. There’s Richard, the patriarch (affectionately known as the “old man”); Rick, the son (who really runs the business); and Rick’s adult son, Corey (who wants to become… Read More

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