The city's Orthodox Jewish community indeed has expanded in recent years to four Orthodox congregations -- including our own Young Israel, two Chabad congregations, and a fourth where I previously served...
Tag: Torah Portion
June 12, 2008 | 2:33 pm
May 29, 2008 | 2:30 pmWhat are the ingredients for a successful marriage? A great medieval sage once suggested the following four:
- Commit to permanence: We are in this forever, no matter what adversities enter into our marriage, and no matter how bored we may get with each other over time. So long as...
January 11, 2007 | 7:00 pmThe first Torah portion in Exodus is Shemot, Hebrew for "names." "These are the names of the Israelites coming to Egypt..." (Exodus 1:1).
That might be where we got the name of the parsha, but that is not where the parsha takes us. Namings take place throughout Shemot. Moses gets a...
June 22, 2006 | 8:00 pm
A man was on a business trip, driving from one city to the next. Struck by the tranquility and open space of a small town en route to his destination, he pulled up to a farmer at a nearby cornfield and asked, "What are the people like in this area?"
"What are people like where you...
June 8, 2006 | 8:00 pm
A number of years ago I was invited to spend Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, in Germany. I fell asleep on the outbound Lufthansa flight, and somewhere over the Atlantic I woke up as the sun began to shine through my window.
With tallit and tefillin in hand, I began my walk to...
June 16, 2005 | 8:00 pm
Our teachers come in many forms and shapes. Many of mine have, over the years, appeared somewhat similar both in regard to gender and profession. The ones that never cease to surprise me, demanding of me to think beyond myself, are my younger students. Clearly, the younger -- the...
May 19, 2005 | 8:00 pm
An international dealer in high-end fabrics once visited with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. As an active member of the Chabad community in England, the businessman was quite familiar with how the Rebbe's advice and blessings had impacted many people's lives in...
May 5, 2005 | 8:00 pm
There are many questions that I want to ask God face to face. Some clustered in theology, others in theodicy. Some have to do with His/Her sense of humor (often biting and dry, although quite creative). Some question evil, pain and suffering. At times I simply want to check in to...
March 3, 2005 | 7:00 pm
This week's Torah portion, Vayakhel (meaning "and he gathered"), is about the community of Israelites building the Mishkan. Think about the communities you belong to: your school, your neighborhood and your synagogue. How can you be a bigger part of your...
February 17, 2005 | 7:00 pm
Presidents Day is on Feb. 21. And in this week's Torah portion, Tetzaveh, it describes what would be a tipe of presidential inauguration for Aaron and his sons as the high priests of Israel.
Answer this quiz correctly for a presidential prize!
February 10, 2005 | 7:00 pm
Often, when sitting with my students, I find myself asking them, "What do you want?" and then "What do you need?" The answer to both these questions inevitably is not the same. I have learned this the hard way, like many other lessons. While I may have wanted something from...
January 27, 2005 | 7:00 pm
Many Jews who live their lives in a traditional Jewish way will often punctuate their remarks with the term, "Baruch Hashem,"
which means "Blessed be Hashem." The words are used as a response to so many situations, both good and bad. It is a way of recognizing that the power and...
January 6, 2005 | 7:00 pm
For the last several years I have had a relationship with a man in prison, and I have seen how his soul has become anguished and diminished by sitting in that cell.
I met William after he was released from prison the first time, and I helped him get back on his feet. Now I write...
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...
December 16, 2004 | 7:00 pm
The syllabus for my USC general education class includes both Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and Chapters 37-50 of Genesis -- the Joseph story or "novella." These two narratives share themes that commend themselves: forgiveness and reconciliation. Both Prospero and Joseph were set...
December 9, 2004 | 7:00 pm
Return of Torah Portion
I am very troubled by The Journal's deletion of a regular Torah section. Like it or not, know it or not, the Torah is the lifeblood of the spirit of the Jewish people and the world. It ain't called "Tree of Life" for nothin'! All major rabbis concur that...
November 4, 2004 | 7:00 pm
In today's world, it is so easy to get caught up in the development and achievement of the many goals we set for ourselves.
From the time we are very young, we are trained to begin thinking about what we want to be when we grow up and how we will get there.
And as we grow up, those...
August 26, 2004 | 8:00 pm
Ki Tetze contains more commandments than any other Torah portion. Some commandments studding the text cause us to crinkle our brow. Rather than general ethical maxims, they are ethical baby steps -- commandments that seem to be trying to toddle away from Hammurabi's Code of Laws and...
July 15, 2004 | 8:00 pm
"Why do human fingers resemble pegs? So that if one hears something unseemly, one can plug one's fingers in one's ears." -- Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 5b
Between political campaigns and summer weddings, we've been witnessing a lot of promises and vows lately. As a rule, I find...
June 3, 2004 | 8:00 pm
What do Cal Ripken Jr. and Aaron (the high priest) have in common?
Not much -- except in the mind of a Jew who has passion for Torah and sports. So here goes!
Aaron receives the commandment to light the menorah everyday. The Torah states: "Aaron did so; he lit the lamps, just as...
May 27, 2004 | 8:00 pm
Rabbi Elie Spitz wrote a wonderful book, titled "Does the Soul Survive?," dealing with life after death, but for me this title is the question that I continuously ask in regard to life after birth. Does our soul survive the journey that we lead it through in our lifetime? How do we...
April 22, 2004 | 8:00 pm
This is the story of Peh Ra. All his life, Peh Ra felt like a cattle owner, walking among his animals and marking them with a red-hot branding iron. Peh Ra had a nice collection of branding irons. Some people he branded "losers," others were marked "nerds" or "geeks" and, of course,...
April 15, 2004 | 8:00 pm
In this week's Torah portion, Moses elaborates the laws of impurity. Touching or holding something impure will render people, clothing, food, beverages, containers, wood, leather, earthenware and ovens impure. Shemini is concerned with the consequences of contact with living,...
April 8, 2004 | 8:00 pm
Most of us remember our parents telling us when we were children that when they were our age they had to walk two miles, every day, in the snow, uphill, both ways, to go to school. In ancient times we can imagine our ancestors telling their children that when they were their age they...
January 1, 2004 | 7:00 pm
"Biblical stories are in our present -- in the cheder [Easter European elementary school] we cried when we learned of the sale of Joseph -- and we rejoiced in his ascendancy to power. There was a freshness, a vigor, a nearness, which we felt in that drama." -- Rabbi Joseph B....
December 18, 2003 | 7:00 pm
Part of my traditional upbringing as a yeshiva bocher was the belief that anything that took my attention away from a page of Talmud was bitul Torah -- a waste of time. And while that may have been a good lesson for an easily distracted teenager, I have since discovered as an adult...
December 11, 2003 | 7:00 pm
We are all familiar with Jacob, the refugee who returns to his homeland to the dreaded encounter with his vengeful brother Esau. I believe most of us read the story through Jacob's eyes, but is it the only way? What if it were possible to unearth these biblical heroes' diaries? What...
December 4, 2003 | 7:00 pm
It was somewhat overwhelming, though not totally surprising, that listening to Simon and Garfunkel in concert turned out to be a significant religious experience for me. I found that they have the ability to remind us what the seeking and dreaming "Ya'akov" that is inside us actually...
November 13, 2003 | 7:00 pm
A saleswoman, driving home in northern Arizona, sees a Navajo woman hitchhiking, stops the car and invites the Navajo woman to join her.
As they drive, the Navajo woman glances repeatedly at a brown bag on the front seat between them.
"If you are wondering what's in the bag," the...
October 2, 2003 | 8:00 pm
It is easy to feel small. As you fall asleep one night, try to watch yourself in your mind's eye, your body growing quiet on your bed as your mind begins to wander. You are one person falling asleep in one room. Beyond you are two, five, 20 others in your home or apartment building...