Torah Commentary

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

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 »
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He who guards his mouth preserves his life
Proverbs 13:3