“If you should see your friend’s ox or sheep straying, don’t ignore them. Instead return them to your friend. But if your friend is not close by, or you don’t know the owner, bring it to your home and hold onto it until the owner finds you, and then return it to them” (Deuteronomy...
Immunity and Impunity: Fear and Loathing in Gaza
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September 13, 2007 | 8:00 pmOn the New Year we learn to pay closer heed to the words we speak, their impact on others and the subtle messages our words convey. As we listen more acutely to the call for help from others, we also take upon ourselves the duty to respond in a timely manner and rally around those in...
August 23, 2007 | 8:00 pmTeenagers in Tennessee who want tattoos need a note from Mom or Dad. A minor in Indiana had best have parental permission if he of she is planning to pierce anything other than ears.
In both Israel and America, parents and politicians alike are searching for some solution to the...
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...
August 9, 2007 | 8:00 pmHere I am in Israel. My throat is sore, and it seems as if I'm going to spend my remaining days stuffy-nosed while watching subtitled television. This stinks.
I just bid farewell to the 40 Birthright participants I helped connect with Israel and Judaism over 10 amazing and...
August 2, 2007 | 8:00 pm"Carb" is a four-letter curse word in the estimation of most L.A. residents. Its nasty connotation came by way of one Dr. Atkins, whose "Diet Revolution" became more widely read than the Bible among many a secular Jew. Seemingly overnight, Atkins' "prophecy" became an orthodoxy for...
July 26, 2007 | 8:00 pmImagine there is something you have worked and hoped and longed for your whole life. (Perhaps you don't have to imagine.) Just when you are on the cusp of achieving/getting/doing/being it, a door slams in your face, and you learn that you will never live out what you dreamed. What...
July 19, 2007 | 8:00 pmAsk 10 Jews with a reasonable background in Torah the question, "Why did God not allow Moses to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land?" and nine of them would probably say: "Because Moses hit the rock instead of talking to it in order to bring forth water and failed to sanctify...
September 14, 2006 | 8:00 pmOnce upon a time, as God created the world, He decided to make beings in His image. As he generated his own reflection in man and woman, the angels got word of the project, and were consumed with jealousy.
"How unfair!" they cried. "Those humans will have it all. They get to...
August 31, 2006 | 8:00 pm
I am one of three totally different children, and my parents have assured me that none of us is adopted.
I find this hard to believe.
I am not sure if my siblings have thought about this, but it has certainly crossed my mind a few times. How could three such radically dissimilar...
August 24, 2006 | 8:00 pm
Torah study in its broadest sense is the path to the divine. The Chasidim and their spiritual descendants traditionally reach toward God through ecstatic music, with the mediation of their rebbes.
The more straitlaced Mitnagdim found God in the intricacies of halacha, the "path"...
August 17, 2006 | 8:00 pmA story is told about a Chasidic rabbi visited by an enthusiastic follower. The man eagerly wanted to update the rabbi on his latest religious undertaking.
"I have decided to inflict my body and deprive myself from mundane pleasures," the man said. "Every day I roll in the snow...
August 3, 2006 | 8:00 pm
"What's the most important word in the prayer book?" the rabbi asked the congregation.
The congregants responded with a list of important words: "shalom -- peace," "bracha -- blessing," "Torah -- God's truth," "Hashem -- God's name."
"All very important words," the rabbi replied....
June 1, 2006 | 8:00 pm
There are some ideas so familiar to us that it's easy to forget how radical they are. Every human being is created in God's image. Every life is worth a world. The entire people received Torah at Mount Sinai.
For most people throughout history, including today, a spiritual quest or...
January 26, 2006 | 7:00 pm
Ten years ago, when my parents, z"l, were 82 and 89, they traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles to be with my partner Tracy and me as we stood together under the chuppah. At the celebration of her daughter's lesbian wedding, my mother was heard to say quite matter-of-factly: "I guess...
October 13, 2005 | 8:00 pm
August 25, 2005 | 8:00 pm
People always tell me that I am a downer, constantly talking about the world's problems here, genocide there; conflict here, poverty there.
Nobody ever wants to talk to me at a party!
However, I also have a deep spiritual side, one that is open to the beauty and wonder of a...
August 5, 2004 | 8:00 pm
"I hate this healthy food. It's tasteless and disgusting," says Gabe, my 17-year-old son.
He's protesting the culinary revolution taking place in our kitchen. The white rice that is now brown, the white bread that is now whole wheat and the Cheetos that have morphed into Lite Cheddar...
July 31, 2003 | 8:00 pm
We're now in the midst of a period called Bein HaMetzarim, a three-week period of national mourning for tragedies throughout Jewish history.
The most powerful of these tragedies was the destruction of the two temples in Jerusalem; these three weeks culminate with Tisha B'Av, the day...
April 17, 2003 | 8:00 pm
As we began our seders this week, one of our first acts was yachatz. We held high a matzah and recited, "Ha Lachma Anya" (behold, the matzah, the bread of poverty, which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt.)
The very flatness and blandness of the matzah remind us of the empty and...
October 8, 1998 | 8:00 pmOn the eve of Simchat Torah, many synagogues auction the three major honors of the day, with proceeds benefiting the synagogue or other Jewish institutions. Two honors, Hatan Torah (for the one called to the final reading in Deuteronomy) and Hatan Bereshit (for the one called to the...
September 11, 1997 | 8:00 pm
A professor in seminary once asked us to find themost important section in all the Torah. We offered Creation, theShma, the Exodus, the revelation at Mount Sinai. No, he argued, it'ski teze l'milchama (Deuteronomy 21): "When you go out to war against yourenemies, and the Lord God...
August 21, 1997 | 8:00 pm
"So, tell me, what are you looking for in awoman?" I ask.
"Someone kind and gentle, intelligent, educated,cultured, witty, fun, a professional, independent, but interested intraditional things, Jewish, haimish, warm, family-oriented...andthin, tall, attractive, blond, well-dressed."...
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