Torah Commentary

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

Ki Tetze: Confessions of an Unrepentant Sinner

The “Ten Days of Repentance” ("High Holy Days") are rapidly approaching, but I already know that they offer me less than complete repentance for my sins.I know this because I am, and will remain for the rest of my life, an unrepentant sinner. I know ... Continue Reading »

Ve'etchanan: "Handling" the Truth

Ve'etchanan: "Handling" the Truth
“Opium of the Masses” [das Opium des Volkes] is how Karl Marx famously (or infamously, depending upon one’s perspective) referred to religion, although the phrase did not originate with him.     His philosophy... Continue Reading »

Matot-Masei: City of Refuge By the Bay

Matot-Masei: City of Refuge By the Bay
How do Torah’s “Cities of Refuge” provisions compare with San Francisco’s “Sanctuary City” law? In this week’s Torah portion, Matot-Massei, the Israelites are commanded to designate six cities of refuge to... Continue Reading »
Jul 17

Sh'lah-L'kha: Avoiding "The Jewish Disease"

Sh'lah-L'kha: Avoiding "The Jewish Disease"
“The Jewish Disease” label has been applied to a variety of aliments at various times in our history.  To name just a few, Tay-Sachs and Crohn's (by geneticists), diabetes (by physicians), mental illness (by psychologists), and s... Continue Reading »

B’haalotkha: "One Law for All" Doesn't and Shouldn't Mean That.

B’haalotkha: "One Law for All" Doesn't and Shouldn't Mean That.
Whenever I read in the Torah, as we do this week, “There shall be one law for you, whether stranger or citizen of the country,” (Numbers 9:14), I think of the U.S. Constitution.  The Fourteenth Amendment declares: “nor shall an... Continue Reading »

Naso: Your Next Vacation: Sderot

Naso: Your Next Vacation: Sderot
When I tell well-meaning acquaintances that I am about to return to Israel – yet again -- they usually remark, “Have a good time!” “I hope you enjoy yourself!” and/or “You must really like it there!” &nb... Continue Reading »

Shavuot: Learn, Baby, Learn!

Shavuot: Learn, Baby, Learn!
Poor Shavuot!  It is surely the “Rodney Dangerfield” of major Jewish holidays. Yes, of major Jewish holidays. The Torah commands us to celebrate three pilgrimage festivals; Pesach, Sukkot, and Shavuot.  But Shavuot gets short... Continue Reading »

Be-Hukkotai: A helpful reminder.

Be-Hukkotai: A helpful reminder.
A few blessings, but many curses.  That’s the count in this week’s Torah portion, Be-Hukkotai (combined with Behar outside Israel). And that’s how our lives sometimes – perhaps often – seem.  Especially... Continue Reading »

Responsibility -- A True Story

Responsibility -- A True Story
“All Jews are Responsible For One Another” (Talmud, Shevuot 39a)  “Adoni, atah yachol l’azor li?”  (Sir, can you help me?”) There was no one else around, so he must be talking to me.   I tur... 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