Yayechi. Tradition: A Democracy of the Dead

Yayechi. Tradition: A Democracy of the Dead
Twice in this week’s Torah portion, Vayechi, the last in the book of Genesis, the dying extract promises from those who will outlive them.  First, Jacob solicits Joseph’s promise to remove his bones from Egypt and bury them in the Pr... Continue Reading »

Vayigash: "It's a Wonderful Life."

Vayigash: "It's a Wonderful Life."
According to the 1946 “holiday” classic that airs (“cables?”) on TV this time of year, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”    But that’s not what Jacob told Pharaoh at their single meeting, briefly re... Continue Reading »
Dec 05

Miketz: "If you will it, it is no dream."

Miketz: "If you will it, it is no dream."
Sixty-six years ago today (as I write this on November 29, 2013), one of the most momentous dreams in Jewish history came true.  In 1897, just after his First Zionist Congress had concluded, Theodor Herzl wrote in his diary:  "At Basle... Continue Reading »
Nov 29

Thanksgiving: More than a Gratitude Attitude

Thanksgiving: More than a Gratitude Attitude
Gratitude is central to Jewishness.  The very word “Jew” in Hebrew, “Yehudi,” is a form of the word “Todah” – thank you.  It’s not surprising, therefore, that, in our tradition, the first thin... Continue Reading »
Nov 27

Vayishlach: Prayer at Public Meetings

Vayishlach: Prayer at Public Meetings
“A Priest, a Minister, and a Rabbi walk into a bar.”   This week, I experienced a variation on this old joke introduction.  An Iman, a Reverend, and I walked into a meeting of Americans United for Separation of Church and S... Continue Reading »

Vayetze: Is All Fair in Love?

Love is one of the great themes in Jewish Scripture.  The Torah and other books speak of G-d’s love – severely tested -- for the Jewish people; their love of the land; and, of course, many instances of interpersonal love. A promin... Continue Reading »
Nov 08

Toledot: We're Not Doing Them Any Favors!

Toledot: We're Not Doing Them Any Favors!
The Torah’s account of how our patriarch Jacob loved his son Joseph best is one to which every sibling can relate.  We’re told how Jacob’s favoritism fueled his sons’ animosity and created decades of family misery. &... Continue Reading »
Nov 01

Vayera: I'm no angel.

Vayera: I'm no angel.
I’m no angel! In so stating, I’m not commenting upon the negative aspects of my character and behavior, although, unfortunately, I could be.  Rather, I’m referring to how Judaism views angels, why neither you nor I am s... Continue Reading »
Oct 17

Lech Lecha: My Land, But Maybe Yours, Too.

Lech Lecha: My Land, But Maybe Yours, Too.
Having just returned to California, I’m still thinking about the ruins of ancient Jewish communities in Samaria (Northern “West Bank”) that Barbara and I visited last week.  This was our land!  This is again our land! &nbs... Continue Reading »

Noah: Don't "Go With the Flow"

Noah: Don't "Go With the Flow"
Now the earth was corrupt in G-d’s sight, and filled with violence.  (Genesis 6:11).   Thus begins the fateful story, told in this week’s Torah portion, of G-d’s destruction by flood of life on earth, except for Noah, h... Continue Reading »
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A bird that you set free may be caught again, but a word that escapes your lips will not return.
Jewish Proverb