“Wealth Inequality” – Monthly Newsletter – May 2020

I don’t know about any of you, but COVID-19 sure has allowed me to get more reading done. It’s not because I have less to do (quite the opposite, most rabbis and spiritual leaders are actually doing more), but with certain activities that were social or outside being restricted at this time, I’ve had to…

“This Torah Portion Sucks”

Here in the month of Elul, ‘tis the season of forgiveness, so to speak.  We are leading up quickly to Selichot, Rosh Hashanah, Tashlich, and Yom Kippur.  Forgiveness should be on the mind; our words, our deeds, our empathy and sympathy, they should be stirring up things inside; we should be preparing to make amends,…

“Problematic Texts”

Within the vastness of the laws in parshat Mishpatim, you will find many that are archaic, and discomforting.  There is the law that states, “If a man seduces a virgin for whom the bride-price has not been paid, and lies with her, he must make her his wife by payment of a bride-price.  If her…

“Why Keep Kosher?”

This week, my wife sent me one of the better texts I’ve gotten in a while: “Soooooooo, Indiana Bacon Festival?” she asked. She followed it up with a link where, I discovered, there was in fact something called the Indiana Bacon Festival, in Delphi, that would feature various vendors offering all kinds of goodies made…

“Dragons in the Bible!”

This week we read from parsha Eikev, deep in the last speeches from Moses to the Israelites.  And boy, am I excited about this parsha!  If you read Eikev all the way through, you’ll find the blessings (and curses) God will bestow upon the Israelites, and you’ll hear the recap of the wilderness sojourn including…

“Preserving Your Culture? No, You Just Don’t Like Change”

This morning, we read from our sacred scrolls the words of the Deuteronomic decalogue, the ten commandments. These words are those known around the world, and which have been read for roughly two-thousand years:   “Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as Adonai your God has commanded you.  Six days you shall labor…

“The Threefold Benediction”

Towards the latter half of our parsha this week, Naso, after a full discussion of the responsibilities of an Israelite who becomes a Nazarite (one who refrains from alcohol, haircuts, and being near death, and verbally vows to become consecrated to God), there is something rather familiar. God speaks to Moses, telling Moses to speak…

“Why Do We Wear Tallit?”

This evening, as our candles were lit by our young ones, you saw your rabbi take his tallit, his prayer shawl, and drape it over his shoulders.  You may notice that at the beginning of each service, I turn away from the congregation for just a moment to say the bracha over wearing the tallit:…

“Blessing or Curse?”

I have spent this week haunted by the images and sounds from Charlottesville. Haunted by the idea that while we sat here singing for peace on Shabbat, a new generation of Nazis and white supremacists with fire in their hands marched chanting “Jews shall not replace us.” These words have echoed in my mind and…

“For Our Use by God’s Decree”

I think it’s safe to say, as we progress through the book of Deuteronomy, that Moses has a lot to say.  Usually when there’s a long passage in a book, fiction or non-fiction, some of us might find ourselves speed reading, or skimming through the section, thinking “how relevant could this diatribe be to the…

“One Verse”

When I was little, I’m certain that I asked the question, “where did the Torah come from?”  I don’t remember asking it, the motivation behind the question, or exactly when it was asked, but I do remember the answer.  The answer which I was taught, and which I read many times over as I studied…

“Your Thoughts: Deuteronomy”

Martin Noth, as well as Philip R. Davies (two brilliant biblical scholars), discuss the idea that Deuteronomy was not composed together with the other books of Moses (Genesis-Numbers), but rather that it was written separately and attached to the canon at a very late stage. Davies argues, “Hence the account of the death of Moses…originally stood…