Rabbi Ben Spratt
The mathematician Steven Strogatz writes: At the heart of the universe is a steady, insistent beat; the sound of cycles in sync. It pervades nature at every scale from the nucleus to the cosmos. Every night along the tidal rivers of Malaysia, thousands of fireflies congregate in the mangroves and...
D'Var Torah By: Rabbi Ben SprattMay 13, 2019
The American poet T.S. Eliot wrote: And now you live dispersed on ribbon roads, And no man knows or cares who is his neighbor Unless his neighbor makes too much disturbance, But all dash to and fro in motor cars, Familiar with the roads and settled nowhere… Much to cast...
D'Var Torah By: Rabbi Ben SprattMay 6, 2019
Sacred rhythms and rites fill much of Parashat Emor. From Yom Kippur to the three pilgrimage festivals of Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot, we see how ancient our holy days are. Though more modern glosses have moved the meaning of these occasions beyond their agricultural roots, millennia later we still “celebrate...
D'Var Torah By: Rabbi Ben SprattApril 29, 2019
In the heart of Parashat K’doshim, we find a recipe for holiness written into behavior. Love your neighbor as yourself, leave gleanings for the poor, care for the stranger, protect the disabled. Many of these ethical epithets form the backbone of moral society, and resonate across religious and national lines. But the above verse feels oddly off: I pause seeing a positive command to rebuke as somehow linked to an absence of heartfelt hate.
D'Var Torah By: Rabbi Ben SprattApril 15, 2019
In Parashat Acharei Mot, we read: "You must keep My laws and My rules, you must not do any of those abhorrent things, neither the citizen nor the stranger who resides among you; for all those abhorrent things were done by the people who were in the land before and the land became defiled. So let not the land vomit you out for defiling it, as it spewed out the nation that came before you." (Lev. 18:26-28). ... In Torah, we see rain as relationship, an earth woven with ethic. Blessing is felt through pastoral plentitude, punishment through agricultural atrophy.