If angry, even God will not deal with justice | Parashat Vayera

Resh Lakish once stated: “Any person who becomes angry, if he is a scholar, his wisdom departs from him; if he is a prophet, his prophecy departs from him.” After him, Rabbi Mani bar Patish said: “Whoever becomes angry, even if greatness has been apportioned to him from Heaven, he is lowered (from his greatness).” (Bavli, Pesachim 66b)

Four Steps on the Path of Lech L’cha | Parashat Lech Lecha

There is so much in this sedra, Lech L’cha, it is breathtaking. We are so familiar with it –especially the very first part — that it is hard for us to even take it all in. Perhaps we should disaggregate it. We can read it through four lenses.

Is Anyone Willing to Listen? | Parashat Noach

In the story of Noah, we learn about the capacity of human beings to commit evil and its consequences. Given freedom, human beings often use it unwisely. This story is an enlightening introduction as to why the Torah affirms that laws are necessary to create a coherent, civil society.

What’s the Point? Parashat Bereshit

Here we go again…reading the same old Torah from the start with Parashat B’reshit. Haven’t we been here before? Don’t we know how it ends?  Who can see the point in it? Honestly, if you’ve looked closely at a Torah, you know there is no point. No one can see any point in it, because the Torah scrolls we read have no “points” (know in Hebrew as nikudot).

To Feel Joy, Do Joy! | Commentary on Sukkot

For many years, I had a plaque with a quote attributed to British writer, Vivian Greene. It read:  Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain. Over the years, I, myself, and some who came to me for counsel, found support and inspiration in those […]

Our Dual-Gendered God | Parashat Ha’azinu

Are we really still referring to God in the masculine? This week’s Torah portion Ha’azinu makes clear that YHWH was understood as dual gendered. Ha’azinu opens with Moses declaring “Let the earth hear the words of my mouth!” And listen to what Moses is saying! God “convulsed in labor for you” (Deuteronomy 32:18), “gave birth […]

Nitzavim and Collective Effervescence | Parashat Nitzavim

I think it’s time I gave up my disdain for “the wave,” that strange bit of choreography we do at the ballpark, as we rise in unison, throw our hands into the air and mimic a wave moving from one side of the stadium to the other. I always hated it. It seemed so silly […]

Choosing Our Response | Parashat Ki Tavo

This week we continue to stand on the shores of the Jordan river reviewing the rules and laws. As part of the review, Moses reminds us of the blessings and curses that await us.