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Ki Teitzei, Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19 — “Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt ... you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!” (Deuteronomy 25:17-19) How many times have I erased something, painted over something or thrown something away because something wasn’t right? Many artists discard projects for a variety of reasons while identifying a mistake and envisioning something better.
Shoftim, Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9 — Isn’t being a good person enough? This question is at the forefront of reflexive responses when faced with the prospect of embracing organized religion. Let’s assume it’s enough. After all, logic dictates that it’s God’s will as it says, “Do that which is straight and right” (Deuteronomy 6:18).
Re’eh, Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17 — Because I am primarily a “visual learner,” I am attracted to the first word of this portion, Re’eh. I remember someone’s phone number better if I have visualized it on a list and I recall experiences better if I can replay them in my head as if they were on a DVR in my brain. It seems to me that our ancestors who went out of Egypt were also visual learners.
Eikev, Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 — When Moses references the desert that the Jews had just trekked, he uses a lot of adjectives and descriptors. He calls it, “The great, awesome desert; a place of snakes, serpents and scorpions, where there is thirst but no water.”
Va’etchanan, Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11 — It’s been a long, hot summer. There have been so many attacks and deaths that we list them by city – Orlando, Baghdad, Nice, Dallas, Istanbul, Quetta – obscuring individual names beneath the rubble and the blood. Week after week, we wonder why such cruelty exists, and whether someone we love will be hurt. We wonder what can be done to stop the violence.
Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of Av, has been a day of national mourning for thousands of years. Ever since our holy Temple has gone up in flames and the Jewish nation went into exile – once in 586 B.C. and then again in 70 A.D. – we have longed to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple. The return to Zion is reiterated in our prayers, in our liturgy and in our psalms. Although it is a sentiment that is present throughout the year, it peaks during this period of the year and comes to a crescendo on Tisha B’Av, the anniversary day of the actual destruction of the Temples.
Matot-Masei, Numbers 30:2-36:13 — This week, we read the double portion of Matot and Masei which concludes our reading of the Book of Leviticus, or Va-yikra. The first Parasha, Mattot (literally “flags” or “tribes”), relates some of the laws that were related to the Israelites such as the annulment of vows, battle with the Midianites, the division of the spoils of war, and the request of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Menashe to remain east of the Jordan river to raise their cattle.
Pinchas, Numbers 25:10-30:1 — There is a very widespread custom to study a chapter of the Mishnaic book Pirke Avot, or “Ethics of Our Fathers,” each Shabbos between Pesach and Rosh Hashanah. Perhaps we could depart just a bit from discussing the parsha in order to mention a very important lesson from the week’s Pirke Avot learning – one that ultimately delivers a strong message in the context of this week’s Torah portion.
Shabbat in Jerusalem was like no Shabbat I have ever experienced.
Valley residents Esther and Don Schon write about a program that two ex-IDF soldiers developed to help teach disadvantaged teens to surf and in turn to become surfing teachers for wounded warriors.
Valley residents Esther and Don Schon write about the question facing French Jews as anti-Semitism continues to spark violence and fear there.