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Each year I rejoice when we reach this Torah portion which includes the parting of the sea, the Israelites crossing through on dry land, and the special chanting of Shirat Hayam, the Song of the Sea, with Miriam and the women following her in dance and song with their timbrels for accompaniment.

It has always amazed me.After 210 years of slavery in Egypt, G-d "hears the cry" of His people, and sends Moses to bring about ten plagues about the Egyptians and free them from their bondage. In this week's portion, the redemption of the people of Israel finally begins. But what about the e…

Everyone has a name that God gives and one’s father and mother give.

In this week's Torah portion, Moses is found in a basket by the Egyptian princess, Batya. Moses' sister, Miriam, who is standing nearby, asks Batya if she should go and get a Jewish wet nurse for the baby. Rashi quotes the Midrash that Batya first attempted to feed Moses from Egyptian wet nu…

My father took to a certain custom when my brothers and I left for college. Before getting on the plane, he’d hug us close, and in his serious voice, he’d remind us, “Remember who you are.”

In the epoch of the Messiah, veracity will be scarce (TB Sotah 49b).

One of my favorite things about this season is tuning into National Public Radio’s Chanukah Lights, one of the most successful NPR special programs over the past 30 years. The concept is simple: an hour-long program of stories about Chanukah broadcast during the Jewish holiday. As many of yo…

Are we up to the task to live each day with spiritual awareness? Are we prepared to live morally, ready to be called upon? Are we ready to struggle to achieve a higher ethical calling?

Have you recently looked for a job? Do you remember the first time you searched for employment?

This week’s parshah contains the famous story of the beginnings of Jacob and Esau. Many commentators focus on the nature of sibling rivalry and the question of who is to blame for all of the tsuris in the family. Maybe we should blame Jacob? He is cunning and conniving as he manipulates a vu…

In this week’s Torah portion, we read of the passing of our matriarch, Sarah, at the age of 100 years + 20 years + 7 years. You are probably thinking, “What is wrong with this Rabbi? Why can’t he just write ‘127?’” The answer is simple: That is how the Torah enumerates them in the opening of…

Now that we are squarely in the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, we eagerly re-read the stories of Bereshit, the first book of the Torah. This is the story of a family. We count the toldot, the generations that lead from one to the next as each family fulfills the mitzvah of pru urvu, the commandme…

Most people, of any age, in Jewish and Christian cultures can recite the basics of the Noah story: God regrets how corrupt humanity has gotten and decides to destroy the entire earth with a flood. But because of Noah’s righteousness, God chooses to save Noah his family, and enough animals to…

Let us learn the parshah according to Nachmanides commentary:

The architecture of our lives begins with a basic anatomy lesson, which features the intersection of the evanescent and the eternal. Our corporal body is a complex environment, magnificently designed to be multi-functional and time limited. Our spiritual body is always present, but invisible…

What’s the best way to say something meaningful that is important and needs to be communicated?

“And now write for yourselves this song and teach it to the children of Israel, put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me among the children of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 31:19)

Each year as the Days of Awe approach, many of us may struggle with the reality that is upon us. We all want to reach out and make genuine strides toward our Maker, but we are caught up in the whirlwind of daily life. Somehow, however, by the time these days pass us by, we may be able to pul…

When you enter the land and get settled, this parshah tells us, the most important thing to do, your first priority, is to bring an offering of gratitude. Then follows a long series of blessings, and an even longer series of curses, that will devolve on the person who does not maintain their…

In his Wall Street Journal column, behavioral economist Dan Ariely once addressed a reader’s question regarding perks like address labels and notepads that charities send in their solicitation mailings to potential donors. Ariely asserted that charities are better off skipping these perks si…

Right from the outset, this parshah tells us that we have a responsibility when it comes to justice in our communities: You shall appoint judges and magistrates for yourself. (Deut. 16:18)

Once upon a time, you walked by a store and saw a sign: Closed for inventory. Once a year, storekeepers took stock — counting how many items they’ve sold, how many are still on the shelves and what profits and losses were incurred during the past year.

In Parshah Ekev, Moses places Israel’s choices and their associated consequences out in the open.  Follow God’s Law, and all will be well.  There will be good food, victory in war and the people will be provided with plenty for all time. But choose to ignore the Law, and Israel will be dispo…

This parshah opens with Moses pleading with G-d to be let into the Holy Land. Standing on a mountain overlooking Israel, he yearns to walk on its holy soil. Our Sages tell us that he prayed 515 individual prayers to be allowed in. Moses saw this as a culmination of his life’s mission -̶  to …

How many of you check your email from your phone? Or communicate with others using WhatsApp? Facebook Messenger? GroupMe? How many send communications via Twitter or Instagram? One of the results of the ease with which we can communicate is that our words and conversations can lose their imp…

In order to set up this week’s Torah portion from the Book of Numbers, let me turn back to the Book of Genesis for a moment. When first introduced to Abraham, we are given scant biographical information to help us understand why God selects him to be the first patriarch of the Jewish people.…

At the end of this week’s Torah portion we read of the heroic act of Pinchas who rose to protect and honor G-d and his commandments in front of the entire Jewish nation. Pinchas killed Zimri, one of the tribal leaders of Shimon and the Moabite princess he was cohabitating with.

I was delighted with a recent invitation to participate in a mah jongg game with a group of other women. I’d never played before, but always wanted to learn. I mentioned it to my mother, who has had a standing ‘mahj’ group for years now, and she gave me my grandma’s set to use.

At the beginning of this week’s parshah, Moshe’s integrity is questioned by Korach. In order to demonstrate the Torah’s divine origin, and Moshe’s faithfulness to his mission, G-d opens the earth and swallows the questioners.

The parshah and Haftorah of Sh'lach Lecha tell of the arrival, rejection and eventual return of the Hebrews to the Promised Land. At first, they are denied entry when 10 scouts bring a terrified report, and the people doubt God’s commitment to them. Decades later, their descendants craft a p…

One of the more difficult concepts for us to grasp is the seemingly endless repetition that is part of Jewish life. “How could my prayers or actions have meaning?” we ask, “when all I do is say and do the same things over and over again?”

The most famous, and perhaps the most beautiful passage in the Torah, is the Priestly blessing, which falls in the middle of this week’s Torah portion:

“The Israelites shall camp each with his standard, under the banners of their ancestral house; they shall camp around the Tent of Meeting at a distance.” (Num. 2:2)

In leap years, parshat Behar and Bechukotai are separated and read over a two-week period. Otherwise, they are read as a double portion, and when read together, as they are this year, we look for some connection between the two narratives.

Parshah Emor delineates the special laws regulating how the high priest conducts himself. He must live according to a higher standard of sanctity than the “ordinary” Jew. For example, he is prohibited from coming in contact with a dead body.

The voices that speak from the etched tablets Moses carried down Mt. Sinai harmonize in their dissonance. That is to say, what makes Judaism whole is our internal, intergenerational dialogue that values and canonizes multiple perspectives. Torah boldly models this by placing conflicting view…

The titles given to Torah portions by the Rabbis do more than distinguish one from another, they reflect the theme and overall content of each.

There has been much emphasis during this pandemic on staying away from one another, keeping our hands clean and not touching public doors or surfaces.

Heralding the foundational narrative of the Jewish people, the Grand Shabbat is born upon the evolutionary arc of a mountain top. Shabbat HaGadol calls upon us to remember our origins as an ancient mountain people, who cultivated a socio-cultural hierarchy that mirrored the shape of elevated earth.

This week we begin Sefer VaYikra, the book of Leviticus where sacrifices are a central topic and theme. The nature of sacrifices and their application to our daily lives is of major import and can teach us life-altering lessons.

Following the catastrophic events of Ki Tisa, last week’s parshah, we begin this week with the final construction of the portable Mishkan in the wilderness.

On Thursday night we begin our celebration of the most irreverent of Jewish observances — Purim. During this holiday, we read the scroll of Esther, exchange gifts of food, mishloach manot, with friends, acquaintances and family and also offer gifts to the poor. Furthermore, it is considered …

Throughout history, due to governmental or societal pressure, Jewish values and culture were usually at odds with the surrounding environment, and so Jews always had to make one of two choices: defiance or compliance.

Mishpatim (Rules), is a miscellaneous collection of laws relating to slavery, homicide, theft, agriculture and many other matters. As interesting as these specific regulations are, they have none of the energy and drama of the Ten Commandments, which we read last week. But the Torah understa…

The Children of Israel marched out of Egypt among a myriad of miracles. They were finally free after many years of bitter slavery. But that is hardly the end of the story. Freedom is, by itself, not a goal. It merely allows one the opportunity to define and strive towards a goal. For our mis…

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