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Tag: Rabbi Debra Orenstein

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  • Connecting the Dots

    By Rabbi Debra Orenstein

    September 15, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    Despite the High Holidays arriving late this year, many Jews are still scrambling to prepare. The practical and spiritual work is demanding: cooking, traveling, repenting, forgiving -- it all takes time and energy.

    In anticipation of the Day of Judgment, Jews judge themselves this...

  • Ritual’s Mysteries

    By Rabbi Debra Orenstein

    July 7, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    This week's Torah portion begins with, and is named after, the key word chukat. Chukat means "the law of" and specifically refers to the ritual law of the red heifer. What distinguishes a chok from other kinds of laws is its mystery.

    Most Torah commandments have a basis in reason...

  • Living Torah

    By Rabbi Debra Orenstein

    December 30, 2004 | 7:00 pm

     

    Imagine yourself forgotten, without anyone to protect you. Ruling powers are oppressing you and killing your children. The purported

    "reason" is economic, but a deep hatred based on mere difference underlies this attempted genocide. Helpless, you cry out. Who, in heaven and on...

  • Ready for Judgment?

    By Rabbi Debra Orenstein

    August 12, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    This week ushers in Elul, the month when Jews traditionally prepare for the High Holidays. In anticipation of the Day of Judgment, we judge ourselves, conducting a full cheshbon hanefesh (accounting of the soul). The Torah portion Re'eh can serve as a checklist for forgiveness,...

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  • Spying the Future

    By Rabbi Debra Orenstein

    June 10, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    In "Happiness Is a Choice" (Fawcett, 1991), Barry Neil Kaufman, founder of the Option Institute, tells an amazing story about a young patient named Katie, whose parents brought her to him in a last-ditch effort to give her a "decent future." She had severe disabilities and came to...

  • Lessons of the Season

    By Rabbi Debra Orenstein

    February 5, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    Imagine the Jewish calendar as three concentric circles: the Torah reading cycle, the holiday cycle and your personal life cycle.

    The circles line up in various combinations, like one of those "work wheels" from camp. If your bat mitzvah falls on Shabbat Chanukah, you may always view...

  • Blessings Over Curses

    By Rabbi Debra Orenstein

    September 11, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    This week's Torah portion presents the blessings and curses that follow from observance or defiance of the law. Some people understand this as a rigid system of reward and punishment. Keep the covenant, and all will be well; violate it, and you will suffer.

    The blessings and curses...

  • Righteous Indignation

    By Rabbi Debra Orenstein

    July 17, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Last week's Torah portion ended with a dramatic cliffhanger. A plague was in progress, punishing the Israelites for worshipping the false gods. Despite earlier prohibitions and the snare of idolatry, an Israelite man openly brought a Midianite woman into the camp. (Commentators infer...

  • Torah Portion

    By Rabbi Debra Orenstein

    June 4, 1998 | 8:00 pm

    It is wonderful to volunteer more, do more, commit more. But our tradition, with love and practicality, offers this caution: Check first that your basic obligations are met.

    Who is greater: a person who is obligated to perform a certain act...

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