No story in the Bible demonstrates more fully than the Book of Ruth the extraordinary power of love, channeled as hesed– kindness or generosity – that goes beyond the expected obligation.
No book better models what it means to love the stranger and what it means to demonstrate hesed in a way that not only repairs a ruptured family history but also creates a community into which one wants to bring a child.
Megillat Ruth (the Scroll of Ruth) is about kindness and audacity. Through its depiction of Ruth, her actions and influence, the book illustrates just how one can...Read More
On a bus-stop bench in my Jerusalem neighborhood this morning, a couple in Muslim garb spoke softly to each other. On the same bench, an ultra-Orthodox man sat studying Talmud. Signs of hope for peace, for coexistence, are abundant in this city. They’ve been overwhelmed by images and emotions from actions at the Gaza border fence. What do we say to God in these moments of anguish? We cry in pain, we beseech heaven with our lamentations, and we beseech each other with our wailing. We ask, isn’t there a better way?
Crafted to avoid politics or accusation, it’s for everyone who has...Read More
“Bring it close!” I urge my students, reading from the prayer book familiar words from the Torah service: “It is a tree of life to those who hold fast to it.”
They look at me with a mix of wonder, uncertainty and straight-out stress. “Do what?!”
“Write a d’var Torah– a short interpretation of Torah. Yes, really. Choose a piece of Torah that speaks to you or your life and write about it. Tell us what speaks to you personally!”
And so, the process unfolds, replete with worried looks, Google documents emailed from an octogenarian, encouragement to talk to children and...Read More
And Israel encamped [at Sinai] as one person with one mind. -- Rashi on Exodus 19:3
Remarkable unity characterized the Jewish people in the days before receiving Torah at Sinai, an event we commemorate on Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks. As a student in Jerusalem one year, I experienced that unity powerfully on Shavuot. At the end of the traditional all-night learning session, I joined thousands of others streaming toward the Old City. We poured into the Western Wall plaza and I nestled myself in with one prayer group...Read More
This past Monday, the U.S. opened its embassy in Jerusalem. On that same fateful day, more than 60 Palestinians lost their lives on the border with Gaza. In response to these divergent events, people experienced a range of emotions.
This confusing, difficult day took place right before Jews around the world will gather to celebrate the festival of Shavuot. Although originally conceived of as a harvest holiday, after the destruction of the Temple, Shavuot transformed into a day celebrating the receiving of Torah at...Read More