Author Archive

Rabbinic Reflections: Dinner stories

I have been remiss. The calendar says Thanksgiving is coming. I was too focused on what food to cook for only five in my house that I forgot to think about the Pilgrim story. The calendar says that today I should be concluding my study of the Talmud tractate Eruvin (boundaries defining Sabbath space) to then begin tractate Pesachim (Passovers). I fell off the daily ...

 
 

Rabbinic Reflections: Black fire on white fire

“Turn it, turn it, for everything is in it,” Ben Bag Bag used to say (Pirke Avot 5:22), in reference to the Torah study. This ancient rabbinic sage, a convert to Judaism, articulates something that I have found metaphorically true year after year. I never seem to be able to complete a portion of learning for even as I present what I think I know, I find something ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Calling the faith-filled

A coronation with no one at court; that will be this year’s Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. A too-often lesser known or hidden symbol of Rosh HaShanah is the round challah bread as the crown of God as Sovereign of sovereigns, not just round like the year coming full circle and not just sweet for a sweet new year. On Rosh HaShanah, the liturgy is designed to renew ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Is less more?

Seven inning baseball games. Heresy or genius? I doubt two more innings would have changed the outcome in either of the double-header games the Phillies played against the Yankees. That does not answer the question, though. In fact, it seems that for now the only definitive statement one can make about Major League Baseball’s 2020 experiment is that the games are ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Radical listening

Biblical morality is driving us apart. The voice of the prophets calling out to us to protect “the widow, the orphan, and the stranger” is calling us to division. Even the repeated command to love the stranger as yourself because we were once strangers creates a chasm even as it seems to ask us to bridge a gap.  Even if you think I am wrong, I bet you feel I am ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: New habits

I am a creature of habit. Even my adoption of new technology is habitual. At work, every time we plan something, I ask how we can do it better. Then again, I load and unload the dishwasher just so. I am brand-loyal in my consumerism, and I rely on tried-and-true recipes to get through the week’s meal preparation. My comfort with habits is why I have been drawn to ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Spring transformation

Let me begin by wishing those who celebrate it a Happy Easter. I am guessing, though, that just as Jews had to adjust their expectations and experiences of the Passover seder, Christians will be adjusting to an Easter unlike any that have experienced before. Virtual community, video conference celebrations, and private home ceremonies all lack something important to ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: The Jewish Halloween

How does one explain Purim, the Jewish holiday based on the Book of Esther? My son told me that he told his friends at school that it was the Jewish Halloween, but instead of getting candy, you give it. I started to respond with the ways in which his explanation was off, and then I realized that he was onto something. Especially for people who do not know the ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Mystery and majesty

“It is like spring, but I could do without the rain,” he said. I responded, “April showers bring May flowers.” He quickly retorted, “Yeah, but it is February!” Indeed, the weather has been unseasonably warm, and for all the wet, it has left us bereft of snow. Birds and plants seem to be returning despite the calendar. It is supposed to be winter here, how can nature ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: #JewishandProud

More than 90,000 Jews on New Year’s Day gathered in MetLife Stadium and 20,000-plus last Sunday in a Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. What do these gatherings have in common? They both exemplify deeply Jewish attitudes about Jewish life in a world where hatred of the Jews is all too real. One the one hand, the first gathering ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Light in our hands

I count myself lucky that I was not further north for my Thanksgiving road trip; 1,500 miles was quite enough with three kids and no snow. While they were watching the Star Wars movies in order in anticipation of episode IX later this month, I was attuned to how little daylight we had for them to even see something out the window. Add a rainy day and there was even ...