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Friday Shabbat Shalom

One Soul, Many Hearts

Jul 31, 2020

One Soul, Many Hearts

One of the challenges translators of Scripture must deal with are subtle grammatical shifts and oddities within the Hebrew text of the Pentateuch. These subtleties challenge prevailing conceptions and conventions in other languages, and within the Hebrew language itself. They complicate the translator’s mandate to simplify and clarify, while remaining faithful to the text.
 Torah is the Foundation We Stand Upon

Jul 24, 2020

Torah is the Foundation We Stand Upon

This Shabbat we begin the last of the Five Books, the Book of Deuteronomy or Devarim ("words" in Hebrew). The Book is primarily a review ( Deuter – Greek for “repetition”) of the previous 4 books, with Moses exhorting the Israelites to remember what was set down over the previous 40 years.
Life is a Sacred Journey

Jul 17, 2020

Life is a Sacred Journey

This Shabbat we finish the reading of the fourth book of the Torah, Numbers/ Sefer Bemidbar , and with the end of the book, ends the story of the Exodus, the travelling through the wilderness, and the complaints of the Israelites (though, in fact those never quite end).
Change Is Always Possible

Jul 10, 2020

Change Is Always Possible

There is one verse in this week’s Torah portion that is profound in meaning and it has only four words . In fact, it is so short that many readers or listeners just miss it. It’s one of those verses that a few minutes or hours later you suddenly say – “What did the Torah say there?"
Lessons from the Unexpected

Jul 3, 2020

Lessons from the Unexpected

This week’s combined Torah portion, Chukat-Balak , includes the story of the non-Jewish prophet Balaam (called Bilam in Hebrew) and his talking donkey . The portion of Balak opens with the king of Moav, (Balak), having heard what happened with the nations who fought against Israel.
Korach Still Lives On!

Jun 26, 2020

Korach Still Lives On!

Rabbis, including this rabbi, welcome the opportunity to write a Dvar Torah in which one of the most “beloved” of Biblical villains appears in his own eponymous Torah portion-- Korach. Born a Levite with great yichus (his great-grandfather was Levi, founder of the Tribe of Levi), along with wealth, intellect, ability and skill, Korach was greatly admired and looked up to by many Israelites.
Are You Transmitting Fear or Courage?

Jun 19, 2020

Are You Transmitting Fear or Courage?

As Jewish parents, grandparents, and teachers, we need to find ways to transmit the values of the Jewish tradition to each generation. In Parashat Shelach, Moses sends leaders to scout the land of Canaan in order to find a way to enter it and leave the desert behind them. These leaders return and tell Moses that while the land is flowing with milk and honey, it is inhabited by giants. Their fears overcame their better judgment and they exaggerated what they saw in order to instill fear in others.
Paradise Lost: Reflections on BeMidbar/The Book of Numbers and America circa 2020

Jun 11, 2020

Paradise Lost: Reflections on BeMidbar/The Book of Numbers and America circa 2020

Recent events have unleashed sad, self-evident and undeniable truths; far from “one union under God”, we act more like a loosely stitched patchwork of power structures and competing interest. Fear of the other and racial hatred, the unequal distribution of justice, and rampant violence have planted deep seeds of mistrust. Whatever our political persuasion, one thing is clear. To paraphrase Hamlet, “Something is rotten in the State of America.” We live next to our neighbors, but do we live with our neighbors?
Expressive Hands: The Blessing of the Cohen

Jun 5, 2020

Expressive Hands: The Blessing of the Cohen

One of the most exciting parts of Parashat Naso, this week’s Torah portion, is the inclusion of the three-part blessing recited by the Cohanim, the descendants of Aharon, who functioned as the priests of the Tabernacle and later of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem.
Naomi and Ruth: The Vulnerability of Women & Immigrants

May 28, 2020

Naomi and Ruth: The Vulnerability of Women & Immigrants

On Shavuot this past week, Megillat Rut/ the Scroll of Ruth is read, ostensibly because the barley harvest is a key plot line (Ruth 1:22- Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest) and Shavuot takes place during the harvest season, celebrating the bringing of "bikkurim/ first fruits" (which most people don't realize refer to stalks of grain, not actual tree fruit). There are also other less obvious thematic parallels, but let's stick with this one for now.