Jewish Journal

Rabbi Dan Shevitz

  • Time to ReconsiderPurim’s Excesses

    March 4, 2009 | 1:09 pm

    Purim used to be all about carnival: makeup, masquerade, cheering the heroes (with whom we identified ourselves), booing the villains (who were obligingly already dead) and overindulging (which we hardly ever permitted at any other time). It has in more recent years become more...

  • Craving trust

    June 5, 2008 | 2:32 pm

    The Sotah ritual is perhaps the most anomalous rite in the Torah.

    The wife suspected of adulterous behavior is forced to drink a cursed potion -- consisting of, among other things, a degraded parchment in which God's holy name has been obliterated with mud -- which tests her...

  • Yesterday’s Ashes

    March 20, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    What do you do with yesterday's holiness?

    Everything has a shelf life, even holiness. Only God is eternal. Ancient forms and rituals give way to new interpretations. The Tent of Meeting gave way to the Mishkan, which in turn gave way to the Temple and, later, the synagogue....

  • Better safe than sorry

    January 10, 2008 | 7:00 pm

    It is late in the game for Pharaoh. Mitzrayim has just endured the penultimate plague: Dark. Pharaoh now knows he has little time left: It is, for him, the bottom of the ninth.

    He summons Moshe, as he has done so many times before, and for the first time conducts an earnest...

  • Being Our Own Gatekeepers

    August 16, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    "Judges and officers shall you place at all your gates."

    Thus begins our parsha, which is one of the richest in rulings, teachings and commandments, and which is therefore concerned about enforcement. Rashi teaches us the difference between the two functionaries: Judges decide...

  • Zealots and Sages

    July 5, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    The people are confused and aimless. Lately they have been attracted to the neighboring Moabites. The Israelite men have been seen consorting with them -- some serious interdating. Moses and Aaron don't know what to do; they are old men, out of touch. They seem to enjoy sitting...