Eikev: Was it a "Rock of Ages?"

As was widely reported in Israel recently, a heavy stone fell out of the Kotel (Western Wall) onto the pluralistic prayer platform.  You Tube clip accessible here. As soon as I saw that report, I anticipated that the Haredi (“Ultra-Orthodox... Continue Reading »

Chukkat: Not for the Sake of Argument

It’s a cliché about Jews with which we can’t argue: we argue. But that doesn’t mean we’re good at it.  That when arguing we are either fair or persuasive.  It’s ironic, because we should be good at it – not primarily through constant pract... Continue Reading »

Korah: G-d vetoed democracy. If necessary, so should Israel.

Which form of government is best?  Although most of us would likely immediately answer “Democratic,” the better response would be to first ask several clarifying questions. Best for whom?  Best for what purpose?  Under which circumsta... Continue Reading »

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 »

"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 »

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 »

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