In this week’s Torah portion, Chukkat, we read: “The community was without water and they joined against Moses and Aaron”. This reaction from the community is not a big surprise. After Miriam’s death earlier in the chapter, finding water became one of the greatest concerns for the people of Israel.
“And the LORD said unto Aaron: ‘Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any portion among them; I am thy portion and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.” — Numbers 18:20
You are set aside, for a special purpose and destiny. Your “portion” now and forever more shall be the Eternal. Which really means your portion is 100 percent rooted in your faith that God and the people will care for you and your family.
Twelve men, representative from each tribe, have been sent to reconnoitre the land of Israel, and they come back with the same report but with two different conclusions. The land is very good and fertile, but the inhabitants are strong. Ten believe that it would be impossible to take the land and it is better not to try, two insist that trusting in God and refusal to be afraid will mean that they will indeed succeed.
Finding good leaders for our congregations is an ongoing challenge, one that exists whether you are in Alaska or New Zealand. This week’s portion offers us guidance in finding the right leaders, in the story of two very minor characters.
The rabbinic conference in Columbus, Ohio 1937 must have been fraught and tense – the Reform movement in the United States was on the edge of redefining its relationship to a personal God and to Israel – and some rabbis felt that the core values of Reform Judaism were on the chopping block.
Passover is on the way. Time to put away the hametz and get set for the “yumminess” provided by matzah. It’s not good enough to just avoid purchasing leavened goods; rather we must actively seek out any remnants of these items in the house and dispose of them. Or at the very least, loan them out. We engage our broomsticks and search for and sweep up those leftover crumbs. Just as important, we need to identify the metaphorical hametz that provides excuses for our inaction. This too ought to be a planned precise procedure. We know deep down in our hearts that in emerging from the winter months, we should gear ourselves up for renewal. Passover is a perfectly suited opportunity to inspire us to serve as advocates for a compassionate globe.
It’s wonderful having an office overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. When the weather is nice I sometimes skip lunch in favor of exploring the winding alleys of Jerusalem. It’s an opportunity for a bit of much needed exercise in addition to amazing people watching and window shopping. During one of these recent lunchtime outings […]
There seems to be a growing gap between Israeli and Diaspora Jews – whether the issue is controversy over the egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, or over the attempts of the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate to gain a monopoly over conversions, or over the growing racism among sectors of the population. Was there ever a time when our people enjoyed unity? And is there a way to achieve that state today? A commentary to our double Torah portion, Vayakhel-Pikudey, suggests that there was indeed such a time.
My brother-in-law has many talents. In addition to playing the banjo, he’s a builder and carpenter; attorney specializing in environmental issues; and all around good guy. But his passion is olive farming…
But Moses’ father-in-law said to him: “The thing you are doing is not right. You will surely wear yourself out and these people as well. For the task is too heavy for you. You cannot do it alone.” (Exod. 18:17-18) People who criticize the Bible as being irrelevant to the present are usually the ones […]