Why it’s the journey that counts

Special to WJW This week’s Torah portion is Matot- Masei, Numbers 30:2 – 36:13. The word masei, meaning journeys, refers to motion, travel and wanderings. These are profound religious and life themes, beginning with the creation of Earth which is moving, while we observe the change of evening to day, darkness and light, helping to… Read More

What’s on God’s mind?

Special to WJW This week’s Torah portion is Pinchas, Numbers 25:10-30:1. How do we know what God wants? I have struggled with this question for decades, despite studying Torah regularly, despite being a rabbi. Go back in time with me to Nov. 4, 1995. I was living in Israel on that fateful day. Prime Minister… Read More

Lighten up, Moses

Special to WJW This week’s Torah portion is Chukat, Numbers 19:1 – 22:1. Miriam dies, and after that there is no more water. Once again, the Israelites gather themselves against Moses and Aaron. The two ask God for help, and God tells Moses to take his staff and speak to a rock, which will then… Read More

Hateful words lead to hateful acts

Special to WJW This week’s Torah portion is Korach, Numbers 16:1 — 18:32. The rebellion of Korach is an explicit, notorious rebellion against Moses’ divinely mandated leadership — ultimately a rebellion against God. Jewish tradition sees it as the paradigm of an illegitimate controversy. The Mishnah tells us: “A controversy for the sake of heaven… Read More

When the scouts went to the Promised Land

Special to WJW This week’s Torah portion is Shelach, Numbers 13:1 — 15:41 This week’s parsha marks the halfway point in the yearly reading cycle. In it, Moses is ordered to send out (sh’lach) 12 scouts (some call them spies), one from each tribe, to examine the Promised Land. They go out and search the… Read More

The virtues and zeal of rehabilitation

Special to WJW This week’s Torah portion is Beha’alotcha, Numbers 8:1-12:16. This week’s parsha begins with God telling Moses to instruct Aaron on how to kindle the lamps of the menorah. It’s the next verse that really interests me:  “Aaron did so; he kindled the lamps at the front of the menorah, as the Lord… Read More

Unlocking the power of a blessing

This week’s Torah portion is Naso, Numbers 4:21-7:89. “God bless you!” People often say these words, and not just when somebody sneezes. Yet I wonder how many think about what they mean, or where their power comes from. One source is in this week’s Torah portion, in which God instructs the priests — the kohanim… Read More

People count, so don’t count people

Special to WJW This week’s Torah portion is Bamidbar, Numbers 1:1 – 4:20. Without telling me, my 9-year-old son put a new screen saver on my computer. I discovered it this morning when I turned on the machine and the USS Enterprise of Star Trek appeared. My first thought was, “How did he gain access… Read More

Even the soil of Israel must keep the Sabbath

This week’s Torah portion is Parshat Behar-Bechukotai, Leviticus 25:1-27:34. “I am the Lord your God who brought you forth from the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan to be your God.” (Leviticus 25:38) Citing the verse above from this week’s Torah reading, our Sages make the striking declaration that only one… Read More