Yitro: The Paradox of Self(ish)-Reliance

Judaism disagrees with the maxim, “It’s better to give than to receive.” (The source of this maxim is “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” a quote ironically attributed by one Jew – Saul of Tarsus, better known as Paul the Apostle -- to anot... Continue Reading »

Beshallach: The proud, the few, the ... Jews?

A “Final Jeopardy” category this week was “World Religions.”  The “answer” was that this religion’s worldwide adherents number more than one billion, with particularly strong representation in the Middle East. The contestants chose Islam, Judais... Continue Reading »

Bo: Call me "A-RONE" (Aaron)

“What was your (deceased family member's) Hebrew name?" I always ask this question when preparing to officiate at a funeral.  I want to refer to it during the eulogy, perhaps connect it to an ancestor of the deceased and/or to a Jewish historic... Continue Reading »

New Jewish Ethics Advice Column: Please Submit Suggestions!

Shalom, Friends.  I am launching a new project, a Jewish Ethics Advice Column.   I request and invite your help by submitting, and encouraging others to submit, to me at rabbiartlevine@gmail.com, situations raising ethical issues. &nb... Continue Reading »

Va'era: Greatness Through 'Grateness'

Make new friends!  Increase your influence!  Be more successful!  Make more money!  Be healthier!  Live happier!   These sound like claims from a daytime TV commercial, a promotional video, a new mood-enhancing drug a... Continue Reading »

Yayechi: On Being a Madman

Which of these expressions best reflects Judaism’s philosophy about “anger management?”1. “Don’t get mad, get even.”2. “Keep calm and carry on.”3. “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going t... Continue Reading »
Dec 25

Vayishlach: The First Salvation of the Jewish People in the West Bank from Conquest through Assimilation -- aka the “Rape of Dinah”

This week’s Torah portion, Yayishlach, has three main narratives. First is the account of Jacob wrestling with a man/angel/G-d. Second is what is usually referred to as the “Rape of Dinah.”  Third is Jacob’s “reconc... Continue Reading »

Vayeira: Avoid the Evil Eye, Keyanhora!

I know what the expression “she’s giving me the evil eye” means in ordinary English expression – an angry or “dirty” look, as if intended to do harm.I have a general impression of what the phrase “ayin ha&rsq... Continue Reading »

"Lech Lecha" vs. "Lech Mi-po"

Note: While some here in Israel are able to focus on "apolitical" topics for their Torah commentaries despite the spate of stabbings and shootings, I find that I cannot.  Perhaps when I return to America soon, I will also return to less emotiona... Continue Reading »

Noah: Israel's Leaky Ark

Here in Sderot, where many residents either are, or are descended from, immigrants forced to flee from elsewhere, my Shabbat lunch host told me, “Tell American Jews to move to Israel now, with their money – before they must leave without ... 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