Torah Commentary en Torah as Our Guide and Companion Parashat Lech L’cha is the beginning of the story of the Jewish people. Yet, what can we call a beginning? October 20, 2020 Rabbi Michael Dolgin The Divine is No Ordinary Parent: Lessons from One God to One People <p>No other Torah portion is as well known or fires the imagination as much as Parashat Noach – but the story includes a number of problematic elements. For instance: How could a 600-year-old man build a cruise ship in his back yard? Would the animals come two by two or 14 by 14? How could they survive in that ark? Why would God need to undo creation to respond to the failures of a generation?</p> October 13, 2020 Rabbi Michael Dolgin What Does it Mean to Be Human? Parashat B’reishit is both the first portion in the Torah and the foundation of our Jewish tradition. These chapters teach us how to find meaning in our days, not just what happened before they began. October 7, 2020 Rabbi Michael Dolgin The Heart of Torah: How Our Actions Bring it to Life <p>What makes the Torah different from any other book we read?</p> <p>I posed this question years ago to a group of second graders as we began a lesson about Simchat Torah.</p> <p>“We read it from a scroll,” one student answered.</p> <p>“It’s in Hebrew!” added another, excitedly.</p> <p>“There are no pictures,” said a third.</p> October 1, 2020 Rabbi Max Chaiken Eat, Drink, and Be Merry – Even in a Pandemic <p>Aligned with the rhythm of our earth turning on its axis, our season of returning (t’shuvahT'shuvahתְּשׁוּבָה"Return;" The concept of repentance and new beginnings, which is a continuous theme throughout the High Holidays.&#13; ) continues its turn.</p> September 21, 2020 Rabbi Max Chaiken The New Year is a Chance to Realign Our Actions with Our Values <p>How can we hold ourselves accountable for our actions? How can we follow through with changing our own lives?</p> September 15, 2020 Rabbi Max Chaiken Hear Their Cries: This Year, May We Listen to Those Who Cry Out <p>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. It is a time of serious reflection and introspection about our lives (and about life itself); a time to ask for forgiveness for missing the mark in our actions with others, ourselves, and the Divine.</p> September 9, 2020 Rabbi Max Chaiken Facing Mortality and Choosing Life <p>You stand this day, all of you, before the Eternal your God – you tribal heads, you elders, and you officials, all the men of Israel, you children, you women, even the stranger within your camp, from wood chopper to water drawer – to enter into the covenant of the Eternal your God, which the Eternal your God is concluding with you this day. (Deut. 29:9-11).</p> September 6, 2020 Rabbi Max Chaiken 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. August 26, 2020 Rabbi Max Chaiken Seeing Ourselves in Torah <p>Just after the opening number of the 1992 animated Disney classic Aladdin, its title character sings “One Jump Ahead,” a catchy tune that introduces us to the young “street rat” and his sidekick, Abu, after they’ve stolen a loaf of bread.</p> August 18, 2020 Rabbi Max Chaiken