Torah Commentary

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 »

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 »
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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