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The Voice of a Woman

Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with timbrels. And Miriam chanted for them: “Sing to the Eternal, who has triumphed gloriously; horse and driver God has hurled into the sea.” (Exodus 15.20-21) These are the last verses of the…Read on →

From Schmutz to Soaring Inspiration

This week we are reading the portion Tazria in our Torah; at first blush, not very appetizing reading. Most of the portion concerns itself with what we, in less elegant vocabulary, might call schmutz; skin infections, mold on houses, and the like – not one of the more inspirational portions in our literature. On the…Read on →

Purity and Taint: Crossing the Line of Life and Death

Of four special Shabbatot leading up to our celebration of Pesach, this coming Shabbat is the third. It is called Shabbat Parah, and is built around a ritual whose internal meaning seems quite remote for us. The “Ritual of the Red Heifer,” the parah adumah, is an extra reading in traditional practice, taken from the…Read on →

Shabbat Zachor – the Sabbath of Remembrance

This coming Shabbat is Shabbat Zachor – the Sabbath of Remembrance – just preceding the celebration of Purim, which falls next Wednesday night -Thursday, March 23/24. Shabbat Zachor takes its name from three extra verses of the Torah that we read this Shabbat, in addition to the regularly scheduled portion at the beginning of Leviticus….Read on →

Convening Without Coercion

Vayakhel Moshe – and Moses convened all the community of the Children of Israel. So begins our sidra, as the Israelites now set about the task of building and adorning the Mishkan – the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. Last Wednesday morning there was an historic moment in the Israeli Knesset. For the first time, more…Read on →

Disillusionment and Hope

We all know the story. Moses comes down from the mountain with the Tablets of the Law. But as he approaches the ground he hears the raucousness and sees the revelry. In a fit of anger he hurls the tablets to the ground and smashes them upon the Israelites. The Israelites had become disillusioned with…Read on →

Justice, Justice

Our Torah portion this week, Tetzaveh, deals with the construction and decoration of the Mishkan – the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, and the clothing and responsibilities of the Kohanim – the Priests – as divine intermediaries in the sacrificial rites. This being said, I ask for a bit of indulgence for this particular week in…Read on →

Eilu v’Eilu

I am in Israel this week, as of today (Thursday) safely ensconced with my colleagues at the Shalom Hartman Institute. But I spent the first part of the week with seven of my rabbinic colleagues from Brownstone Brooklyn, and five Jewish professionals as well. We came on a mission with UJA-Federation to explore issues of…Read on →

Breaking News: The Kotel Belongs to Everyone!

The buzz within Israel is very loud today, particularly as it has reverberated throughout the Reform and Conservative Movements, and those in the Orthodox community as well (like the leaders and faculty of the Hartman Institute). The following is the text of the announcement released today by Women of the Wall. This is a victory…Read on →

The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea

This week is the moment of truth for our ancestors at the Sea of Reeds. They could not return to Egypt, where the harshness and cruelty of their bondage had become unbearable. And, they really had no way of knowing exactly where they were going – they themselves had no familiarity with a “promised land,”…Read on →