This Too is For Good: The Power of Hope

Perhaps nothing seems more obvious than what’s “good” or “bad” – or, as this week’s Torah portion (Re’eh) puts it, what’s a “blessing” or “curse.” At this time in the Jewish calendar, when… Continue reading

It’s Your Turn

The secular calendar says mid-summer, and my Northeast home swelters for an umpteenth day above 90 degrees. The timing is right: on the Jewish spiritual calendar, the great gear shift has come. It’s… Continue reading

Nowhere to Run (And a Good Thing, Too)

Three friends are having a hard time. One laments being lonely unpartnered. Another tends a spouse with a tough prognosis. A third faces an unjust assault to a career. Oy, such downers for… Continue reading

Separation of Shul and State

In this moment of high political drama in U.S. and European history, politicians are claiming moral and even spiritual mantles to advocate causes.  This week’s Torah portion (Balak) focuses us on that political… Continue reading

How to Fall on Your Face: The Spiritual Art of Leadership

This post is for you if you ever felt small after receiving critique or challenge, or that a leadership burden is too heavy, or that no good deed goes unpunished. (Essentially, this post is for everyone.) And of… Continue reading

When Fright Makes Right

Some fear is healthy (“don’t stand in a busy highway”). Other fear is insidious, paralyzing, hope-draining and soul-snatching – and existential fear can be toxic if left to fester. This week’s Torah portion (Shlach) calls… Continue reading

Receiving Torah, renewing the soul

Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center Shavuot Retreat June 11, 2016 • 5 Sivan 5776 On this Shabbat flowing into Shavuot, our Torah portion readies us to receive Torah anew inהתחדשות הנפש / renewal of… Continue reading

China as Sinai and Parakeets on the Roof: The Important Spiritual Art of Jewish Bloopers

I’ll never forget that time I taught the first line of this week’s Torah portion (B’midbar). One English translation begins, “God spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai” (Numbers 1:1), from which Jewish tradition spins countless interpretations.… Continue reading

In the Wilderness: How to Receive Torah

Next weekend (June 11, 2016) is Shavuot, Festival of Receiving Torah, when we evoke standing together at Sinai to receive anew the wisdom we call Torah. As preparation, this week’s Torah portion (Bamidbar – “in the… Continue reading

Ask the Rabbi: Are We Commanded to Vote?

Every Jew has a duty to vote in the democratic elections in one’s nation of citizenship. Jewish law mandates the creation of civil government (Avot 3:2, Avodah Zara 4a) and obliges all who… Continue reading