Answering Unanswered Prayers Parshat Va’etchanan

Did you ever really pray for something you wanted? I mean, really fervently, desperately pray hard for something that was vitally important to you? If you did, and I think we all pray this way at moments of urgency, you violated an anonymous piece of wisdom: “Be careful what you pray for, because you just… Read More

A Sublime Autobiography

There is a biography. And then there is an autobiography. Our biography is the way others see us. Our autobiography is the way we see ourselves. Typically, there are sharp differences between the two. Others see us from their own perspectives. Some biographers can be boldly objective, confronting us with facts about ourselves which we… Read More

I Act, Therefore I Am Parshat Pinchas

Are you feeling depressed? Then dance! Feeling lazy? Work! Angry? Smile! Hostile? Act friendly! These are not merely glib bits of advice when there is nothing better to say. Rather, they reflect a deep common wisdom that teaches us that our behavior influences our emotions. When we feel down in the dumps, the best thing… Read More

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Curse the Children of Israel

The use of comedy in Jewish storytelling is a very powerful tool for conveying the serious wisdom of our tradition. Often, the Torah introduces us to a wide range of colorful characters — intriguing men, women, and creatures — in order to infuse the stories of the Torah with wit and humor. These personalities have… Read More

The Paradox of the Red Heifer Ritual Parshat Chukat

The mystical ritual of the red heifer is a chok, a commandment we follow not because it is rational, logical or moral, but because it is Divinely ordained. The very notion of the priest purifying an individual who has been defiled by contact with a dead body, through the process of sprinkling him or her… Read More

Better They Learn from Me Parshat Korach

Conflict resolution is one of the most important tasks in human relations at every level. Open up any newspaper, and you will read of schoolchildren bullying each other, of married couples in bitter conflict, of political parties enmeshed in verbal warfare and of nations at war. What are some of the strategies available to foster… Read More

Our Ability to Accept

“And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite (Midianite) woman he had taken to wife (and divorced). And they said, ‘Did the Lord speak only to Moses? Did He not also speak to us?’” Toward the end of our biblical reading, we find this very strange dialogue between Miriam and Aaron, the… Read More

The Nazir and Narcissus Parshat Naso

Webster’s dictionary defines paradox as “a statement that is contradictory in fact and, hence, false.” In life, however, there are numerous paradoxes that are, strangely enough, not false at all. In religious life we find many such paradoxes, and one of them is to be found in the Torah portion that we read this week…. Read More