G-d Wants You To Love Others

Fasting is of no use if at the same time you do not act justly and compassionately to your fellow human beings.

The Prophetic View Of Sacrifices

They were not criticizing the institution of sacrifices. They were criticizing something as real now as it was in their time. What distressed them to the core of their being was the idea that you could serve G-d and at the same time act disdainfully, cruelly, unjustly, insensitively or callously toward other people.

Building Community

What united them was not the dynamic of the crowd in which we are caught up in a collective frenzy but rather a sense of common purpose, of helping to bring something into being that was greater than anyone could achieve alone. Communities build; they do not destroy. They bring out the best in us, not the worst.

Moses Annuls A Vow

According to the Sages the original act of Divine forgiveness on which Yom Kippur is based came about through the annulment of a vow, when Moses annulled the vow of G-d.

Dressing To Impress

Tetzaveh is also the first time we encounter the phrase “for glory and for splendor,” describing the effect and point of the garments. Until now kavod, “glory,” has been spoken of in relation to G-d alone. Now human beings are to share some of the same glory.

The Gift Of Giving

Why did God command Israel to make a sanctuary for Him? Shouldn't it be unnecessary?

Listening To G-d

Judaism is a matter of creed as well as deed. But we should allow people great leeway in how they understand the faith of our ancestors.

Crossing The Sea

I believe that some of the greatest positive changes in our lives come when, having undertaken a challenge, we cross our own Red Sea and know that there is no way back. There is only a way forward.

Faith In The Future

When G-d said, “I will be what I will be,” He was telling us something not only about G-d but about us when we are open to G-d and have faith in His faith in us.

Family, Faith, And Freedom

Genesis is not a hymn to the virtue of families. It is a candid, honest, fully worked-through account of what it is to confront some of the main problems within families, even the best.

The Future Of The Past

Joseph is helping his brothers to revise their memory of the past. In doing so, he is challenging one of our most fundamental assumptions about time, namely its asymmetry. We can change the future. We cannot change the past. But is that entirely true?

Joseph And The Risks Of Power

Mikketz represents the most sudden and radical transformation in the Torah. Joseph, in a single day, moves from zero to hero, from forgotten, languishing prisoner to viceroy of Egypt, the most powerful man in the land, in control of the nation’s economy.

The Angel Who Did Not Know He Was An Angel

I know of no comparable passage in the Torah: three verses dedicated to an apparently trivial, eminently forgettable detail of someone having to ask directions from a stranger. Who was this unnamed man? And what conceivable message does the episode hold for future generations, for us?

Yaakov Avinu’s New Name

Note, first, that this is not an adjustment of an existing name by the change or addition of a letter, It is an entirely new name, as if to signal that what it represents is a complete change of character. Second, as we have seen, the name change happened not once but twice. Third – and this is the puzzle of puzzles – having said twice that his name will no longer be Yaakov, the Torah continues to call him Yaakov. G-d Himself does so.

Living With Trouble

What then are we to make of the phrase, “Pharaoh condemned only the boys to death, but Laban sought to uproot everything”?

The Disappearance Of Yizchak

Itzchak, having grown up in the household of Avraham and Sarah, had never encountered deception before, and was thus, in his innocence, misled by his son. Rivka, who had grown up in the company of Lavan, recognized it very well, which is why she favored Yaakov,

To Have A Why

The answer again is that to understand a death, we have to understand a life.

Negative Capability

A pattern is beginning to emerge: Avraham was learning that there is a long and winding road between promise and fulfillment. Not because G-d does not keep His word, but because Avraham and his descendants were charged with bringing something new into the world

A Palace In Flames

Avraham is the father of faith--not as acceptance but as protest

The Genesis Of Love

The Torah is telling us something very powerful. Never think of people as things. Never think of people as types: they are individuals. Never be content with creating systems: care also about relationships.

Studying The Torah

Keriat haTorah, properly understood, is a performative act. It is a weekly recreation of the revelation at Mount Sinai. It is a covenant ratification ceremony like the one Moshe performed at Sinai:

The Universality Of Sukkot

It is almost as if Sukkot were two festivals, not one.

The Cry On Yom Kippur

The moment when all we can say is gevalt. All we can do is cry out. That’s what the shofar was on Rosh Hashanah and will be at the end of Yom Kippur: The sound of our tears... The sound of a heart breaking. No more excuses. No more rationalizations and justifications. Ribbono Shel Olam, forgive us.

Not Beyond The Sea

When you cannot see Him, it is because you are looking in the wrong direction. When He seems absent, He is there just behind you, but you have to turn to meet Him. Do not treat Him like a stranger. He loves you. He believes in you.

A Nation Of Storytellers

A large part of what Moshe is doing in the book of Devarim is retelling that story to the next generation, reminding them of what G-d had done for their parents and of some of the mistakes their parents had made. Moshe, as well as being the great liberator, is the supreme storyteller. Yet what he does in this week's parsha, Ki Tavo, extends way beyond this.

Does The Torah Care About Animal Welfare?

Animals are part of G-d’s creation. They have their own integrity in the scheme of things. This would not have been news to the heroes of the Bible.

The Torah As Environmentalist

Areligious vision is so important, reminding us that we are not owners of our resources. They belong not to us but to the Eternal and eternity. Hence we may not needlessly destroy-even in war

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