Torah Commentary

Torah Commentary

The Blessings of New Beginnings

Each year, my family and I sign up for a farm share (where a portion of a farm's produce is purchased up front, before it is grown each season, in exchange for boxes of seasonal produce throughout the farming season) in our local community.

The Stories We Tell

In his 1966 novel, The Gates of the Forest, Elie Wiesel famously wrote, "God created [hu]man[s] because [God] loves stories." Indeed, each of our lives is a story that is told to the world. Our stories involve many characters, have plot twists, and offer lessons that teach something of the nature of life. Our life stories highlight what is important to us, what ideals guide us, and the significant experiences that have shaped who we are. Every life is a story. Telling that story helps us remember who we are.

Blessing First Fruits in a Time of Plague

I do not believe, as Torah describes, that God directly acts in our world, or that the COVID-19 plague is some kind of Divine message. But I do believe that in the face of disease, suffering, and evil, God weeps with us; and when we aspire to holiness regardless of our circumstance, God celebrates with us. And the more we keep these ideals in mind, the better we can build a world worthy of blessing.

The Dramatic Effects of Sound and Silence

In the story of Elijah, this classic text describes the prophet’s encounter with God: “... the Eternal was not in the fire. And after the fire—a soft murmuring sound [kol d’mamah dakah]” (I Kings 19:11-12). The sound of silence—or close to it. The power of the soft whisper, the energy of the absence of sound. Jewish tradition, and the Torah specifically, uses many examples of the drama that can be achieved with sound,