Jewish Teaching

Shabbat Message: Moving Toward Elul

Posted on August 14, 2020

At this time of summer, the days begin to approach the month of Elul, a month of reflection and looking inward, leading into the High Holy days. We are also in the midst of the seven weeks of comfort following Tisha B’Av, when the Haftarah each week is selected from the book of Isaiah, and Continue Reading »

Shabbat Message: It Should Be Enough to be Ourselves

Posted on June 26, 2020

The great Chassidic Rebbe Zusya of Anipol is known for this saying: “When I die and meet my maker, I will not be asked, ‘Why were you not Moses?’ I will be asked, ‘Why were you not Zusya?’” In this week’s Torah portion, Moses asks a similar question of Korach, who led a rebellion against Continue Reading »

We Can Reach the Promised Land

Posted on June 19, 2020

This week’s Torah portion is a telling tale about how attitude and perception color our reality – how what we see “out there,” so often reflects our inner disposition, our preconceived notions, biases and prejudices. The Israelites are ready to go up to the Promised Land, to return home to the land of their ancestors Continue Reading »

Numbers: Be Careful When You Count

Posted on May 28, 2020

Since ancient days Judaism has had an aversion to counting, especially to counting people. The basis for this is the idea that ascribing a number sets a limit. This is true of population assessments and also of longevity. As recently as a few generations ago, this sensitivity endured as a superstition among the first generations Continue Reading »

Shabbat Message: Holiness Abounds

Posted on May 1, 2020

This week’s Torah reading includes the call to be holy. “You shall be holy, for I the Eternal your God am holy.” (Leviticus 19:18) It is an awesome and daunting aspiration, especially because it is couched in the challenge to rise to this exalted place because God is holy. To be like God? How can this be expected Continue Reading »

Living with the Broken Tablets

Posted on September 15, 2019

The High Holy Days span the period of forty days from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Yom Kippur. According to our tradition, this corresponds to the forty days Moses spent atop Mount Sinai receiving the second set of Tablets. Little has been passed down to us about what was happening down below among the people while Continue Reading »

Retelling Our Story

Posted on March 8, 2019

Did you know that Pesach is the most-observed Jewish holiday in North America? Family and friends gather around the table to retell the ancient story of our people’s liberation from bondage and journey into freedom. We beautify our tables with ritual objects and special settings that we use just for Passover. We prepare delicious food, Continue Reading »

Sabbatical: Of Crops and Teachers (Including Rabbis)

Posted on January 9, 2019

Among the many revolutionary ideas of the Torah is the practice of the sabbatical year — an extrapolation of the weekly Sabbath day as a time for renewal and rejuvenation. The Torah’s vision of the sabbatical is a year in which the land is allowed to lie fallow so that it can regain its vitality Continue Reading »

Jewels of Elul — #15: “What If?”

Posted on August 26, 2018

What If? by Rabbi David Wolpe Life is composed of finite facts and infinite possibilities. Part of the art of living is to take the possibilities and elevate those which enhance our lives, improve our world and grow our souls…. In the Talmud, one Rabbi has a dream about an upside-down world. By stretching our Continue Reading »

Seeking Higher Purpose in the New Year

Posted on January 5, 2018

A new secular year has dawned, and, as with all things new, it brings the opportunity to greet it with optimism and thoughtfulness for its possibilities. For some of us, the possibility exists of choosing to do something truly different with our lives in this new year. Most of us, however, will find ourselves carrying Continue Reading »