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Rabbi Steven Moskowitz


Stack of old letters tied with string; sealing wax and seal atop one loose letter

On Simchat Torah, we read the concluding words in Deuteronomy and without skipping a beat, start all over again with the first chapter in Genesis. With one breath, we read about Moses’ death and with the next, about the creation of the world. It is how we order our year; it is how we order our lives.

Several years ago, a close family friend died. Throughout his long life, Jerry had served as a mentor to me. Recently, his grandson, to whom both my son Ari and I have grown close, shared a surprising discovery: a stack of correspondence between Jerry and me his family found when they...

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We learn many things from our parents: how to eat properly, how to brush our teeth, and, I hope, how to greet strangers. Others we learn through observation: how to love, how to care, and even how to mourn.

Jewish tradition speaks at length about parents’ and elders’ obligations toward children and the young. The Talmud, for example, instructs parents to teach their children Torah, in essence, by modeling proper values. The ancient rabbis expound upon this obligation, adding that parents must teach their children a trade and, according to some, also to swim.

In fact,...

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It was a beautiful August morning, the temperature a comfortable 70 degrees. I was riding on my favorite flat, a road that extends for miles along the shoreline. My legs felt strong, and despite the gusting head wind, I was setting a fast pace. The dune grass blew in the breeze, the waves lapped at the expanse of sand, and when I looked up at the blue sky, I found it absent of clouds.

It was a perfect day. I could focus on my riding. I could contemplate the beauty of the moment.

And then it happened.

The perfect sky – nearly as deep and blue as a September day –...

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Real Torah is about preparation.

Take Moses’ life as an example. First of all, Moses does not even begin his true calling until, at the age of 80, he leads the people from Egypt. We know incomparably little about his first 80 years. In fact, the majority of the Torah details his, and the people’s, life from the Exodus forward. What little we do know about those years is more the stuff of legend than Torah. We do read there that Moses did not even want the job.

The 40 years of wandering and struggle are a prelude to Moses’ dream of leading the people into the Promised Land...

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Before leaving on a recent long car ride I downloaded a Spotify playlist: “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” The journey began with Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” We pulled into our driveway to “The House of the Rising Sun.” In between, we listened and debated the choices. I could have done without Johnny Cash, but I appreciated the iconic choice. The B-52’s “Love Shack” restored memories of late evenings dancing and partying. I recalled: Prince really is that good. And it really did begin with Elvis.

The mileage remained the same. The trip was lengthened by three construction...

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