Torah Commentary

Know Before Whom You Stand Before You Judge

June 20, 2021Rabbi Alex Kress

During the pandemic, I had a serious mental health breakdown and no one knew. Perhaps I seemed a little off or distant to my loved ones and coworkers, but the depth of my sorrowful disorientation remained mostly hidden to the

In the End, There Was Love

June 13, 2021Rabbi Alex Kress
Just as Parshat Chukat lists the Israelites’ battles and resting places in their trek toward the Promised Land, so too should we mark our nation’s jagged journey toward racial justice. It is therefore appropriate to mark not just the official end of slavery with the phrase et vahev b’sufa, but also the continuing struggle against the legacy of Jim Crow – systemic racism.

Reigniting the Spark of Community

June 6, 2021Rabbi Alex Kress

Before the pandemic, I took so much for granted: hugging friends, visiting family, singing at concerts, eating at restaurants, going anywhere I desired. The virus flipped our world upside down and forced us apart from the people and spaces that

Build Longer Tables, Not Higher Walls

May 23, 2021Rabbi Alex Kress
In Parashat B'haalot'cha, Miriam is stricken with tzara’at, a skin ailment associated with punishment for slander. To recover from the illness brought on by her actions, and also for the community to move on, Miriam – not Moses or his wife, whom she slandered – had to leave the community. This is a lesson in radical inclusivity.

Choose Hope: The Story of Coach Ted Lasso and the Biblical Caleb

May 20, 2021Rabbi Alex Kress
In the story of the spies from this week’s parashah, we find the Torah’s version of soccer coach Ted Lasso, the protagonist of the TV series by the same name. While Joshua had a prophetic spirit that would later inscribe him in the canon, Torah says that Caleb “had merely a human spirit.” Caleb, like Ted Lasso, was just an optimistic, can-do guy.