And Moses went …

This week’s Torah portion is Vayeilech, Deuteronomy 31:1-30. Three parshiyot into the book of Genesis we read Lech Lecha, God’s command to Abram and Sarai to “go to a land that I will show you.” That moment sets in motion the great journey, both physical and spiritual, which we relive every year in the reading… Read More

What it means to choose life

This week’s Torah portion is Nitzavim, Deuteronomy 29:9 – 30:20. “Behold, I give before you this day the life and the good, the death and the evil … blessing and curse; and you shall choose life, so that you will live, you and your seed …” (Deut. 30:15, 19) What does it mean to choose life?… Read More

The power of reconciliation

This week’s parsha is Ki Tavo, Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:8. The phrase “Arami Oved Avi” that appears at the beginning of our Torah portion sounds familiar. This sentence is the opening statement of the farmers who came to the Temple in Jerusalem and handed the bikkurim, the basket of first fruits, to the priest. But… Read More

Interpreting the mitzvah to blot out Amalek

This week’s Torah portion is Ki Teitzei, Deuteronomy 21:10 – 25:19. To whip up opposition against the nuclear deal between the United States and its international allies, and Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu compared Iran to Amalek, saying Iranians are “the new Amalek making an appearance on the stage of history.” Netanyahu was referring… Read More

Make an offer of peace

This week’s Torah portion is Shoftim, Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9. The winds of war emanating from last summer’s Operation Protective Edge have subsided, but we still hear loud and clear the raucous shouts at the United Nations, of European leaders and even of top leadership in the United States condemning Israel’s “extreme and disproportionate military… Read More

The blessing and curse

This week’s Torah portion is Re’eh, Deuteronomy: 11:26-16:17. From the beginning of parsha Re’eh through the next several Torah portions, we find many mitzvot. This parsha contains the command to destroy the place of idol worship; we are forbidden private alters, forbidden the eating of blood. We are given instructions about false prophets and laws… Read More

The song unsung

This week’s Torah portion is Ekev, Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25. In these past weeks we entered into the month of Av and observed two very different, yet related holidays. The first, Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av) is a solemn fast day that represents for us all the evil that has befallen our people. The… Read More

What is Shabbat?

The Torah portion for this week is Vaetchanan, Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11. Ask yourself, your significant other, or children in your household this question and you are likely to get any number of responses. Shabbat is a day of rest; Shabbat is a day of worship; Shabbat is a day for family; Shabbat is a day for… Read More

The fundamental seder message is to be inclusive

This week’s Torah portion is Exodus 12:21-51, for Hol HaMo’ed Pesach, for the first day of Passover. The Passover seder is an evening dedicated first and foremost to the relationship between the generations, to parents communicating to their children the agony and the ecstasy of Egyptian enslavement and exodus – that seminal biblical drama which… Read More

Repairing relationships

This week’s Torah portion is Tsav (Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36). There are times when apologizing comes easily to us. It is easy to apologize when we bump into someone in a crowded hallway. It is easy to apologize when we are greeted with a groggy “hello” after calling someone a little too late at night…. Read More