“Toxic Nostalgia”

In the heart of the wilderness, bamidbar, in our Torah this week we read of a mutiny within the ranks of the Israelites.  Korach, son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, aligned himself with three other prominent sons of priests, and sparked a rebellion against Moses and Aaron, with 250 chieftains and dignitaries,…

“The Outsider’s Perspective”

Our parsha this week, Yitro, refers to Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, and it offers us a small glimpse into Moses’ personal life after having led so many Israelites through the wilderness.   In our parsha, Jethro arrives and tells Moses that he has arrived with Moses’ wife, Zipporah, and their two sons.  If the fact the fact…

“Pass Over or Protect?”

Our Parsha this week deals with many aspects that, in my opinion, come a few months early, including the creation of Passover, matzot, and the like.  However, the parsha also deals with a very cool and momentous incident when the 10th plague comes over Egypt.  Remember that God, through Moses, has unleashed nine debilitating plagues…

“The Overnight Success”

This week, we find ourselves at an emotional moment in our Torah.  Joseph—who has risen to great power in Egypt, the viceroy, second in command, covered in gold and silver, surrounded by servants, food, wine, and lavish dwellings—comes face to face with his brothers.  His brothers—who tormented him, plotted to kill him, sold him into…

Temple Israel – Weekly Newsletter – 12/7/17

In our most recent newsletter, I encouraged each of you to think about and make a list of the “things I mean to know.”  These are the things that you think you know in Judaism, the things you are sure of but don’t know the evidence behind.  And sure enough, many of you wrote me…

“Challah-Ween”

Earlier this evening, we had a really nice Challah-Ween program with our Tots, and right now they’re putting the finishing touches on their decorated little pumpkin, ghost, and spider challot. The origin of Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, as it used to be called, is relatively unknown. Some believe it has its roots in the…

“The Torah Lives”

Beha’alotcha, this week’s parsha, is not an easy one.  Four chapters in the book of Numbers, laying out cultic rules and laws.  It discusses the laws of sin offerings, which aren’t particularly relevant; it outlines the Passover holiday…don’t they know it’s June?  It discusses silver horns to blow to assemble the entire congregation, but that…

“Your Thoughts: Egypt”

With Passover quickly approaching, I thought it appropriate to start the conversation regarding the subject of the Seder, the Israelite exodus from Egyptian slavery.  The “Passover Seder” as we know it now, was not created until the 8th-9th century CE, relatively late considering the Exodus was said to take place sometime around 1400 BCE.  The…

“Egypt’s Waking Nightmare”

  In every relationship, there are idiosyncrasies. Those little behaviors that make one person unique and that the other person learns to love, appreciate, or, at the very least, tolerate. My wife, for example, has learned to tolerate my love for tshirts and hoodies, my ability to quote verbatim from shows such as Seinfeld and…

“Amen and Amen”

  Ki Tavo is this week’s parsha, and around the promises of blessings in the Holy Land, and the instructions for bikkurim—the first fruits—is a set of curses—yes, curses—from our friendly neighborhood Levites.  Deuteronomy 27:14 reads: The Levites shall then proclaim in a loud voice to all the people of Israel:  Cursed be anyone who…