Parshat Vayera (Genesis 18:1-22:24) May we, like Abraham the Patriarch, be comforted by the appearance of what Abraham Lincoln called, "the better angels of our nature" as they come to transform our country into the caring community for which we pray every day.
Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech (Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30)
This week's Torah portion creates a picture of the 12 tribes of Israel marching over the wilderness terrain in well-organized troops, the divisions of Judah to the east of the tabernacle, Ephraim on the west, and the other tribes assigned to positions in between. An army of men, women and children who once marched hunched over from intolerable service to Pharaoh were now marching upright, in formation, in service of God, with banners streaming above them, as it is written: "The Israelites shall camp each with his standard, under the banners of their ancestral house" (Numbers 2:2).
This week's cover story celebrates not make-believe angels, but real live ones.
Recently, I was working at my school office planning a day of classes and interviews when I was notified of an incoming call from New York. It was my cousin, Shion, a hospital chaplain and a fine rabbi.
"Have you heard the news?" he asked.
I thought his voice sounded pensive and without waiting for an answer he went on to say, "There has been a fire, your mother didn't make it and your father is in the hospital."