Jewish Rituals

Devarim: Did You Ask the Boss?

Asking G-d for help with difficult decisions or actions (even though actually an integral part of many prayers) is something that many of us associate more with “Twelve Step” programs, or with “fundamentalist” adherents of other religions, than with ... Continue Reading »

Balak: The Satan Within Us

Do Jews believe in Satan?  For many of us, “Of course not!” is the likely answer.  Indeed, the question itself may seem entirely non-Jewish.   Except that this week’s Torah portion (Balak) states:  “The angel of the Lord pl... Continue Reading »

Bamidbar: Torah Study Not Required?

Surprisingly, the Torah does not explicitly command us to study Torah!  The King of Israel was required to write for himself two copies and read one his entire life. (Deut. 17:19).  Moses decreed that a copy be placed aside the Ark of the ... Continue Reading »

Emor: Would You Wear a Yarmulke in Public?

I read with interest this week’s Reform Movement “Ten Minutes of Torah,” entitled, “How to Decide About Wearing a Yarmulke.”  The article, written by Rabbi P. J. Schwartz, appears to refer to wearing a yarmulke in public.    I gr... Continue Reading »

Hukkat: What Have You Done for Me Lately?

What happened yesterday about which you still feel grateful today?   How about the day-before-yesterday?  Last week? Last month? Last year?  It’s hard, and maybe impossible, to feel grateful for benefits received that we no longer re... Continue Reading »

Naso: Guilty? Take the “Fifth” and Confess.

Many Jews consider confession to be a once-a-year religious obligation. On the “Day of Atonement,” they confess their sins to G-d, privately and/or by joining in the communal “Ashamru” (“We have sinned”) liturgy. Such an understanding of the role of... Continue Reading »

Behar: Don't live in the "Shark Tank"

Who said, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”?   Although Ben Franklin is often credited, it was actually Shakespeare, who put these words into the mouth of his character Lord Polonius (Hamlet Act I, Scene III).   How ironic, the... Continue Reading »

Yitro: The Paradox of Self(ish)-Reliance

Judaism disagrees with the maxim, “It’s better to give than to receive.” (The source of this maxim is “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” a quote ironically attributed by one Jew – Saul of Tarsus, better known as Paul the Apostle -- to anot... Continue Reading »

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 »
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If charity cost nothing, the world would be full of philanthropists.
Jewish Proverb