Category: Rabbi’s Dvrei Torah

  • Friday, June 24, 2022 / 25 Sivan 5782

    Friday, June 24, 2022 / 25 Sivan 5782

    Perspective can make or break the world.

    What is dismissed as small or unimportant, could in fact be crucial.
    Where some people see problems, others see not problems but challenges.
    Bigger might not always be better, nor is more sophisticated always the most efficacious.
    When some see crisis, others see opportunity.
    When some fearfully warn, others encourage hope…

    In this week’s Torah portion, Sh’lach Lecha, spies are sent to scout out the Promised Land. All the spies see the same things. Except for Joshua and Caleb, the spies give a bad report on the Land and express fear and doom if they try to enter it. Joshua and Caleb give a glowing report and express the hope that the Land is there for them to take and inhabit. The people hear the fear and take the warning. As a result, the entire generation of Israelites proves itself unworthy of going to the Promised Land. They wander the desert for another 38 years or so until they all die off in the wilderness. It will fall to a new generation to go up and conquer the Land on which to build the utopian society the Torah prescribes.

  • Friday, June 17, 2022 / 18 Sivan 5782

    Friday, June 17, 2022 / 18 Sivan 5782

    Shalom Chaverim,

    There was an event going on down the block from my house recently.

    On the sidewalk was a laughing toddler trying to chase after her granddad without falling down. She was laughing because her granddad was doing his best to clown her – spinning a ball on his finger, calling her name in a sing-song voice, doing a silly dance as he led her down the walkway. He picked a flower and stuck it in his mouth as he continued to spin the ball. In response he got a new gurgle of laughter and a couple more teetering steps.

    The lengths we’ll go to make a baby laugh! To coax a smile from our beloved! To find moments of awe, wonder, and delight in our world!

    One place I look for wonder each week is in trying to understand what the week’s ancient Torah portion has to teach us about what is going on in our world right now. Perhaps I do this because it is usually so much easier and accessible to find wonder here than by climbing a peak hoping to glimpse a brilliant brief sunrise, or getting down to the beach to meditate in rhythm to the crashing waves, or whatever. It seems there is always something in the Torah if I just look for it…

  • Friday, June 10, 2022 / 11 Sivan 5782

    Friday, June 10, 2022 / 11 Sivan 5782

    The “highlight” of this week’s Torah portion, Nasso, is something you are all familiar with: The Birkat Kohanim, the priestly blessing of the people of Israel. You know the one [from Numbers 6:24-26]… May the Eternal bless you and protect you; May the Eternal’s Face give light unto you and show you favor; May the Eternal’s Face be lifted toward you and bestow upon you Peace. In fact, the original Hebrew is even more concise and sublimely structured, with the first line composed of only 3 words, the second line 5 words, and the last line 7 words. The first word is “יְבָרֶכְךָ֥” – ye’varechecha, “may [God] bless you”, and the concluding word is “שָׁלֽוֹם” – shalom, “peace”. There is yet another crucial insight we learn from the ‘structure’ of this blessing. The priestly blessing concludes chapter 6 of Numbers, and the Torah portion itself concludes at the end of chapter 7 by emphasizing that the words of Torah – including the words of our priestly blessing – are transmitted to Moses when Moses comes to the Tent of Meeting and hears the Voice of God speaking to him from atop the Ark of the Testimony, from between the two cherubim.

  • Friday, June 3, 2022 / 4 Sivan 5782

    Friday, June 3, 2022 / 4 Sivan 5782

    Shalom Chaverim, The Festival of Shavuot, which begins after Shabbat this Saturday night – we begin a new book of the Torah with parashat BaMidbar on Shabbat morning – is one of […]

  • Friday, May 27, 2022 / 26 Iyar 5782

    Friday, May 27, 2022 / 26 Iyar 5782

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  • Friday, May 20, 2022 / 19 Iyar 5782

    Friday, May 20, 2022 / 19 Iyar 5782

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  • Friday, May 13, 2022 / 12 Iyar 5782

    Friday, May 13, 2022 / 12 Iyar 5782

    Together with all the Torah’s great wisdom, and its system of laws for everyday life, there are only a precious few verses in the Torah that address the ultimate reality and purpose of human life and our connection to the wider universe. These are concentrated nuggets of Truth which, if you could just focus on any one of them, it could re-orient your life and go a long way towards fixing the entire world and bringing some universal improvement towards Redemption, Truth, and Peace.