This piece first appeared here. Parashat Emor (Leviticus 21-24), read this week in synagogues outside of Israel, opens with a passage describing limitations placed on individuals whom a Kohen (priest) may mourn or marry, as well as limiting sacrificial service in the Mishkan to those who are able-bodied. We learn in Leviticus 21:17 that any […]
Last week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel, opens with Moses’ gathering the entirety of the Jewish people together. After reiterating the singular importance of Shabbat observance, specifically focusing on the prohibition of lighting a fire, Moses instructs the people regarding the completion of the Mishkan, or tabernacle, commanding them to bring gifts for this purpose. The people […]
This drash (commentary on the weekly Torah portion) was delivered at JTS on October 5, 2013. Shabbat shalom! In reading and rereading this week’s parsha (portion), I was struck by what our parsha can teach us about proper interpersonal relations and having compassion for others. Our Sages famously do not see Noach as a flawless […]
We are in a time of false starts and uncertainty. Just last week in Judaism, we read not only one, but two, creation stories. This week, we will read about God washing out and wiping away nearly all of Creation. The people will build a massive tower, only to be thwarted by the curse of […]
In the parsha for last week, Parashat Eikev, Moses instructs the Israelites on how to enter the land of Israel. The general idea is that if the Israelites observe God’s commandments, they will be rewarded: they may enter, possess, and flourish in the land. Only one small obstacle stands in their way. The land that […]
In Parashat Emor (Leviticus 21-24), read this past week in synagogues around the world, we are introduced to the relatives for whom Kohanim (priests) are permitted to mourn, as well as a list of various classes of priests who, owing to a mum (blemish), are barred from performing the sacrificial service in the Mishkan (Leviticus […]
–“The Pharisees said, This man is not from #God, because He does not keep the #Sabbath” -#John 9:16 It was a Sunday morning in April when a man named Tagg uploaded a picture of his father onto Twitter. “Busted!” the tweet read. “#mitt2012 sneaking a peek at twitter [sic] during Sunday school.” The attached image displayed a […]
Bill Bonner’s diatribe against undergraduate education at UVA in the name of Thomas Jefferson and Rabbi HIllel demonstrates the same lazy habits of thinking and writing that I try to drill out of my first year undergraduates. Here’s what he could learn from reading R. Hillel more closely.
Like the ancient Israelites, we should be humbly appreciative, but we complain. We should work together in common cause, but we isolate ourselves into separate camps. We should humbly, simply, and happily be grateful to be alive, free, and partnered with the Divine—by whatever name we know It—seeking only to live and serve the best we can, but we selfishly crave a craving.
In a world that bombards us with information from every side, it can be surprisingly difficult to find truth. This past weekend many Jews celebrated Shavuot, the holiday commemorating God giving the Israelites the Torah at Mt. Sinai. While I don’t believe this happened in the way it’s vividly described in chapters 19 and 20 of […]