Weekly Shabbat Message

Shabbat Bo 578

Posted on January 26, 2023

What was the nature of the plague of Hoshekh, darkness, the ninth calamity that God brought on the Egyptians? The Torah describes a darkness so thick it was tangible. What’s more, it prevented Egyptians from any and all movement. “People could not see one another, and for three days no one could move about” (Exodus 10:23). Continue Reading »

Shabbat Shemot 5783

Posted on January 12, 2023

When we first meet Moshe as a grownup, we are introduced to a man of action. He goes out, ostensibly from his sheltered life in the palace, among his People. He sees an Egyptian man beating a Hebrew. “He turned this way and that and, seeing no one about, he struck down the Egyptian and Continue Reading »

Shabbat Vayehi 5783

Posted on January 5, 2023

“What the magic word?” We probably know this expression from our childhood, when we were taught to say things like “please” and “thank you.” Or maybe we think of mythic tales with words like “abracadabra,” which, by the way, has an Aramaic origin (avra kedabra–I will create as I speak”).   As we arrive at the Continue Reading »

Shabbat Vayigash 5783

Posted on December 29, 2022

As we reach the height of narrative drama in the Yosef story, we encounter the longest speech in Sefer Bereshit. At the end of last week’s Torah portion, Miketz, Yosef’s “stolen” divining cup has been found in Binyamin’s backpack. Despite Yehudah’s commitment that all the brothers shall remain in Egypt as slaves, Yosef in his continuing concealed Continue Reading »

Shabbat Miketz/Rosh Hodesh/Hanukkah 5783

Posted on December 23, 2022

My go-to resource for all things Hanukkah is the pair of books edited by Noam Zion called A Different Light. These volumes are full of the history and big ideas of what is probably Judaism’s best-known holiday. There is no doubt that this holiday is meant to give a boost to Jewish pride; the placing of Continue Reading »

Shabbat Toledot 5783

Posted on November 28, 2022

This past Monday, we had the first topical session of our adult education class on Jewish ethics. Using the book Modern Musar: Contested Virtues in Jewish Thought, we explored a variety of attitudes in modern Jewish thought to the topic of honesty and love of truth. And the timing couldn’t have been better, since this is Continue Reading »

Shabbat Hayei-Sarah 5783

Posted on November 17, 2022

Long before When Harry Met Sally became an American classic, the Torah has another story of a couple’s first encounter. This week, near the end of Parshat Hayei-Sarah, Rivkah meets Yitzhak. And she has quite the reaction when she does. Or does she?   Where Yitzhak, wandering in the field just before nightfall, sees camels, Rivkah sees a Continue Reading »

Shabbat Vayera 5783

Posted on November 10, 2022

As I mentioned on Rosh Hashanah, I’m engaged daily in the 929 Project, a journey through the entire Hebrew Bible, all 929 chapters of it. Today’s chapter, Joshua 13, seems especially timely on the cusp of Veterans Day. The chapter comes after a summary of the conquests of 31 kings and city-states under Joshua’s military Continue Reading »

Shabbat Bereshit 5783

Posted on October 21, 2022

In English, the expression is “saving the best for last.” In Hebrew, it would be “aharon aharon haviv.” We humans like this idea, since we are the final element of the first creation story in Genesis 1. After God gives the universe order and structure, after the sun, moon, and stars have been set in Continue Reading »

Shabbat Hol HaMo’ed Sukkot 5783

Posted on October 14, 2022

In keeping with our custom to explore a chapter of Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, on Sukkot, I tried making sense of chapter 6 of this Biblical scroll. When I read the last verse of the chapter, I felt that the text was “throwing shade” at me. Do you know that expression? The urban dictionary defines it as “acting Continue Reading »

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