‘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

Expanding the Covenant Parshat Vayelech

At the edge of the Promised Land, Moses convenes his people one last time, to draw them into the covenant between them and their God. This great gathering of the masses evokes the last great gathering, forty years earlier, when the people of Israel were encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai. Then, in the… Read More

Twice Born Parshat Nitzavim

We have lately become accustomed to reading accounts of clergymen, teachers and rabbis who take advantage, in very ugly ways, of the young people who are in their charge. Whenever I read these accounts, I think back to when I was a young boy and to some of the rabbis and teachers that I experienced…. Read More

Our Guide and Our Light

This week’s Haftarah is a poem from the Book of Isaiah. It is the sixth of seven “Haftarot of Consolation,” meaning that six weeks ago was Tisha B’Av, which commemorates the destruction of the Second Temple. What sets this Haftarah apart from the other readings preceding it is that it goes beyond just being comforting…. Read More

Everything Old Can Be New Again Parshat Ki Tavo

A few weeks ago, in studying Parshat Re’eh, I noted that the Torah gives us a great gift of joy — a command to celebrate with one’s entire household — tucked into a long passage replete with warnings of failures and curses literally shouted from the mountaintops. This week, in Parshat Ki Tavo, our tradition… Read More

Kohanim and Kings Parshat Shoftim

Did you ever argue politics with an anarchist? How about theology with an atheistic communist? Well, I’ve done both and have learned a lot in the process. It all goes back to a bench in Hester Street Park, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, near the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva, where I attended high… Read More