Religion Today

Rabbinic Reflections: God’s body and soul

Friday the 13th had a full moon. What a great reminder that we are not in control; two eerie signs, especially for the superstitious, that the natural world itself has a dark side. This particular full moon marks the middle of the Hebrew month of Elul, the month of preparation for the Jewish High Holy Days. In two more weeks, as the moon wanes to nothing, Rosh ...

 
 

Exploring Hope: What’s your “god?”

My wife is a professional modern dancer who works with a company in Philadelphia called KYL/D. A few years ago, they did a piece called the “Faith Project,” which looked at the connection between religion and movement. As part of their process, they hosted “story circles” where the dancers could discuss their diverse religious views (from Christian to atheist). But ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Catastrophe, again

Darkness, sadness, and a seemingly unending journey through painful events recounting death, destruction, and doom. Watching the evening news or browsing your phone’s news feed too often feel just like that. Catastrophe is fast becoming the daily grind. It goes without saying that we cannot let ourselves become desensitized, let alone immune or complacent. Today’s ...

 

Exploring Hope: Hearing and doing

One thing I love about music is the close connection between theory and practice. If someone claims to be an expert in classical violin, people expect him or her to be able to play. But imagine if he says, “I’ve watched tons of videos on YouTube and read all the most important books about violin technique. Therefore, I’m an expert!” I think most people would be ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Visiting God

It is Visiting Day at camp. In keeping with a decades old tradition in the American Jewish community, my older children are at a Jewish sleepaway camp nestled in the mountains. In the idyllic environments built by different organizations and owners, nature is just an excuse for where God really shows up, in community. To be clear, I failed as a Jewish summer camper. ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: You are unprepared

You are not ready. You will not be ready. You cannot get ready. The many rituals and traditions that are meant to help us prepare for the Jewish pilgrimage festival of Shavuot, the holiday celebrating both the first fruits of the summer harvest and the receiving of Torah at Mt. Sinai, convey an important message. We are never really prepared to receive the Torah. ...

 

Exploring Hope:  A lesson from the beach

As you prepare to visit the Jersey Shore this summer, here’s a spiritual lesson you might want to consider. In Luke 6, Jesus tells a parable about two “beachfront” homes. He says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Ramadan rebound

It is NBA playoff season. Apart from the thrills and chills of the Sixers’ series with the Raptors, I am also highly aware that it is now Ramadan, the Muslim holy month known for daylight fasting. The combination takes me back to the mid-1990s when I first understood anything about Ramadan, and I learned from basketball. I grew up in Houston, Texas. Back then, Hakeem ...

 

Exploring Hope: The First Easter

Easter is fundamentally about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Biblical Christianity claims that it isn't just a spiritual parable, but a historical reality that took place in space and time. And according to the New Testament, the resurrection changes everything (1 Cor. 15). But why believe in the resurrection? Well, that question is too big for this ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Welcoming affliction

My cousin cried at the table. I did not understand why until my mother explained why she herself cried, too. The Passover seder invites learning, traditions, symbolic foods, and all the things that family gatherings might entail. The seder also invites, though, a recognition of darkness that we tend to undervalue. Early in the seder, we hold up the dry, flat cracker ...

 

Exploring Hope: What’s your authority?

A little boy tells his friend that unicorns really exist. "No, they don't,” says the friend. “Yes, they do. My mom said so.” “Well, my mom says they don't exist." “Your mom is stupid." Now, what's going on in this story? Well, there is a battle over authority. Neither child has enough life experience to settle the question empirically. Therefore, the only thing they ...