Our special guest today is Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, co-founder, rosh yeshiva and executive director of Mechon Hadar. A graduate of Harvard College, Rabbi Kaunfer was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he also completed an MA and is pursuing a doctorate in liturgy. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Kaunfer is a co-founder of Kehilat Hadar and in 2009 Newsweek named him one of the top 50 rabbis in America. He was selected as an inaugural AVI CHAI Fellow, and is the author of Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us About Building Vibrant Jewish Communities (Jewish Lights, 2010).
This week's Torah portion- Parashat Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)-is the first portion from the book of Deuteronomy. In this parasha, Moses begins his review of the story of the people of Israel in the 40 years following their exodus from Egypt. He recalls his appointment of Judges and magistrates; the wandering through the desert; the sending of the spies; and the people's spurning of the Promised Land. He continues to recount some more recent events, such as the refusal of Moab and Ammon to let the people of Israel pass through their land, the wars fought against the Emorite kings, and his own words of encouragement to his successor Joshua.