Hear Their Cries: This Year, May We Listen to Those Who Cry Out
Rosh HaShanah – the “head of the year” – celebrates the beginning of a new year and officially starts aseret y’mei t’shvuah, 10 days of return and repentance.
Learning from the Imperfection of Religion
Parashat Mishpatim offers a myriad of rules to guide us in how to treat other individuals and nations. It makes us wonder: Why is it easier to think and behave humanely when we consider individuals rather than nations?
Can We Have a Relationship with God?
In Ki Tisa, Moses, begs God to let him understand the Divine. And yet, we see Moses as having more access to God than any other man. If Moses cannot comprehend God, how can we hope to understand God’s ways?
Too Much of a Good Thing?
In Vayak’heil/P’kudei, the people bring so many contributions to build the Tabernacle that Moses turns some of the gifts away. Is it ever right to limit contributions that are gifts from the heart?
The Evolving Role of the Tallit
When I was speaking with a 95-year-old congregant this week, she shared with me the uncomfortable feeling of having her synagogue change around her. “We used to be properly Reform. Now, when I come, I see people wearing a tallit..... " For her, seeing fellow congregants wearing a tallit feels like a betrayal of the Reform principles she holds dear.... The commandment to wear tzitzit, the fringes on the corners of the tallit, comes from this parashah.
A Continuity of Law that Values the Needs of the Community
The word for “and” in Hebrew is not a separate word: it is a one-letter prefix, the letter vav. Sometimes it is translated as and, other times it is best translated as “but”; sometimes, vav is a participle that doesn’t need to be translated. In the opening sentence of Parashat Mishpatim, the translation used in the Reform Movement’s Chumash discounts the vav that is attached to first word, v'eileh, "these" or "and these."
The Challenge of Holding God Close While Keeping Fear at Bay
The poet Yehuda Amichai writes: I don’t want an invisible god... I want a god who is seen... , so I can lead him around and tell him what he doesn’t see… ... In this week’s portion, Ki Tisa, we reconnect with this unfinished storyline at the beginning of Exodus 32. While Moses tarries atop Mount Sinai, the people down below are losing their patience:
Surprising Insights from the Grasshopper
Much of how we come to know ourselves is the result of human encounters.
I think it's fair to say that just about everybody knows that the Israelites were condemned to wander in the wilderness for forty years, a biblical generation.
The Roots of the Amicus Brief
Following the giving of the Ten Commandments in last week’s Torah portion,Parashat Mishpatim brings us a diverse collection of civil, criminal, ritual, and ethical laws. Included in the parashah is a section of text that has become relevant to a topic that is highly contested in our day.
Next month, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Whole Woman's Health v. Cole, a challenge to a restrictive Texas abortion law. It will be the first time in more than 20 years that the Supreme Court has heard an abortion case.