Torah Commentary

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 »

Bereshit: Nu? Ain’t hubris "a-shame"?

Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden of Eden, but had no consciousness of this and thus felt no shame -- until they knowingly violated G-d’s command not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.Their “eyes were opened” an... Continue Reading »

Ki Tavo: Remember That We, Too, Were Refugees.

“My father was a wandering Aramean” is a declaration familiar to us from the Passover seder.   Taken from this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, it begins a formulaic “brief history of the Jewish people” narrative that Israelites were obliged to re... Continue Reading »
Sep 04
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He who guards his mouth preserves his life
Proverbs 13:3