Torah Commentary

Shemini: Ted Talks Down to Religion

Shemini: Ted Talks Down to Religion
While driving around town lately, I’ve been listening to short “Ted Talks.” (https://www.ted.com).  These are short lectures by philosophers, scientists, academics, business leaders, inventors -- anyone with a grand (and p... Continue Reading »
Mar 21

Vayikra: Please don't pass (on) the salt.

Vayikra: Please don't pass (on) the salt.
Why do we sprinkle salt on the challah when we say motzi? According to this week’s Torah portion, Vayikra, the first in the book of Torah by the same name (in English, Leviticus), no meal offering could be brought to G-d without salt. (... Continue Reading »

Pekudei: Bringing home the bacon Gold Medal.

Pekudei: Bringing home the bacon Gold Medal.
I don’t remember where I got the notion that Olympic Gold Medalist Sage Kotsenburg is Jewish. I think it was an item in the Jerusalem Post or Times of Israel, but I can’t now find it.  Whatever the source, I felt a small burs... Continue Reading »
Feb 28

Vayakhel: Kindleh, baby, kindleh!

Vayakhel: Kindleh, baby, kindleh!
Each Erev Shabbat, Jewish women around the world light candles and recite the following blessing (in Hebrew): “You are Blessed, Adonai our G-d, Sovereign of the Universe, Who has Sanctified Us with His Commandments, and Commanded Us to Kindle t... Continue Reading »

Ki Tisa: G-d, Moses, and Anger Management

Ki Tisa: G-d, Moses, and Anger Management
“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”  This exclamation from the 1976 movie Network seems to fit this week’s Parasha, Ki Tissa.   When Moses does not return from atop Mt. Sinai, where G-... Continue Reading »
Feb 14

Tetsavveh: Lighten up!

Tetsavveh: Lighten up!
In this week’s Torah portion, Tetsavveh, G-d instructs Moses to tell the Israelites to bring him clear oil of beaten olives for the lighting the lamps of Tent of Meeting.    Why olive oil, specifically? The Midrash uses a parabl... Continue Reading »
Feb 07

Terumah: Paying our "voluntary" dues

Terumah: Paying our "voluntary" dues
When I became bar mitzvah in the Fall of 1968, my father, z”l, had recently completed two terms as President of the local synagogue.  That must be why my speech was about the "ten percent tithe."  Donations wouldn&rsquo... Continue Reading »

Mishpatim: It's "That Time of Month."

Mishpatim: It's "That Time of Month."
This Shabbat, Mishpatim, is also “Shabbat Mevarechim” -- the Shabbat on which “we bless.”    What do we bless (or sanctify)?  The new month that begins during the coming week.  In this case, the mon... Continue Reading »

Yitro: The Most Jewish Thing We Can Do.

Yitro: The Most Jewish Thing We Can Do.
What's “the most Jewish thing” we can do?   Say the Sh’ma?  Light and bless Shabbat candles?  Fast on Yom Kippur?   Keep kosher? Tell a Jewish joke?  (For the latter, see Pew Report opinions). Gi... Continue Reading »

Beshallach: Has your rabbi ever asked you this?

Beshallach: Has your rabbi ever asked you this?
When was the last time your rabbi -- indeed, any Jew – inquired about your relationship with G-d?  I suspect that the answer is “never.”   What would you say/how would you feel if he/she did so?  Would you be at a ... Continue Reading »
Jan 10
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If charity cost nothing, the world would be full of philanthropists.
Jewish Proverb