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Sealed for Life or Death?

The beautiful, melodious liturgy of Yom Kippur suggests a heavenly court in which God reviews each individual and decrees the destiny of each person for the coming year. This is powerful poetry that should make us stop and think about our lives and our behavior.

D'var Torah By: 
Un’taneh Tokef: Reflecting on Your Legacy
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi P.J. Schwartz

The Un’taneh Tokef prayer is undoubtedly one of the most challenging pieces of Jewish liturgy. It encompasses traditional messages of Yom Kippur and the High Holiday season that can prove to be theologically challenging: God is judge and arbiter; Our fate has been determined, and there is nothing that we can do but accept the decree. Regardless of the theological implications found in the text, the prayer does challenge us to confront our own mortality and reflect on how we want to be remembered.

What Judaism Says About the Golden Rule

For the last few years, I have been a member of a local hospital’s ethics committee.

D'var Torah By: 
Working Toward a Shared Goal of Holiness
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Aimee Gerace

In these turbulent political times, it may sometimes feel easier to withdraw, to choose to not engage with our community members around difficult topics — particularly those community members who d

The Complex Commandment To Be Holy

The Eternal spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, the Eternal your God, am holy. (Leviticus 19:1-2)

Parashat K'doshim places before us one of the most difficult commandments in the whole Torah. It's not kashrut or Shabbat, or even the rules of sexual conduct, but rather, the admonition and the expectation to "be holy." Throughout the Torah, we are given rules and statues that tell us what to do. Here are we told what to be. A similar statement is found in Exodus 19:6, where we are commanded to be a "kingdom of priests and a holy people." But what does it mean to be holy? The parashah does not define what holiness is, nor does it tell us what it means to be holy. The guidance it gives us is in the specifics: the who, when, why, and how of the injunction.

D'var Torah By: 
The Limits on Our Pursuit of Holiness
Davar Acher By: 
Gregory S. Marx

What is the definition of chutzpah? It is believing that you are better than you really are or expressing a sense of entitlement. Maybe that's not a perfect definition, but we certainly know it when we see it.

We are living, psychologists tell us, in the "age of narcissism."1 More and more people express a sense of entitlement and privilege. In America we hear of so many speaking of their rights as citizens, while fewer and fewer vote2 or serve their country in the military3. In the synagogue community, so many leaders observe a precipitous decline in volunteerism and service. Far too many seek membership in order to receive services. We expect our clergy to bless our children and officiate at various life cycle events, but all too rarely see our belonging as a way to contribute to the greater good.

Yom Kippur All Year Long

In the first part of this week's parashah, Acharei Mot/K'doshim, the Torah's fullest description of Yom Kippur appears.

D'var Torah By: 
Repentance and the Wilderness
Davar Acher By: 
Scott Hausman-Weiss

Rabbi Sherman offers us eternal lessons for the long-lasting effects that Yom Kippur can and should have on us throughout the year.

Nakedness and Vulnerability

In Leviticus 18:3, in Acharei Mot, it is written, "You shall not copy the practices of the land of Egypt where you dwelt, or of the land of Canaan to which I am taking y

D'var Torah By: 
Vulnerability and Accountability
Davar Acher By: 
Amy L. Memis-Foler

Rabbi Zoë Klein interprets a verse from Acharei Mot (Leviticus 18:6) teaching us not to uncover or reveal the vulnerabilities of the people who are closest to us.

A Rambling Rose

As the great flood story begins, we learn that Noah was "a righteous man; in his generation he was above reproach" (Genesis 6:9) and we wonder what kind of compliment has Noah just been paid.

D'var Torah By: 
Don't Make It Personal
Davar Acher By: 
Stephen Kahn

Every now and then, while I am driving around, I listen to AM talk radio to hear the latest fare from commentators from the "right" and the "left." Based on what I hear, it appears the sole p

Just Like Me, They Long(ed) to Be Close to You

In this week's double parashah, Acharei Mot/K'doshim, there's a one-sentence reference to the mortal sin of Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, who brought "alien fire" into the Mishkan

D'var Torah By: 
I'll Keep Working My Way Back to You (God) with a Burning Love Inside
Davar Acher By: 
Marci R. Bloch

In our "get-it-now" culture, we have come to expect everything we want in an instant. We are hooked on instant messaging, instant answers to our searches, even instant coffee.

Being Holy - and Staying Alive

Acharei Mot, the first of this week's two parashiyot, begins on an unsettling note—a reminder of the death of Aaron's sons and the suggestion that such tragedies might occur again unless the priests take specified steps to prevent them

D'var Torah By: 
A Self-Reflective God
Davar Acher By: 
Elizabeth W. Goldstein

Sometimes a dream dies. And the death of that dream becomes the focal point for how we choose to shape the future.

Yom Kippur: It Is Not in the Heavens

Central to the "Torah"—my father, Jacob Milgrom, z"l, taught me and countless others—was the revolution of priestly theology.

D'var Torah By: 
A Communal Experience
Davar Acher By: 
Erica Asch

Yom Kippur is indeed not in the heavens, as Rabbi Milgrom points out. But it is also not solely within us as individuals because we experience it in the midst of a community.

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