Religion Today

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 ...

 
 

Preserving Hope: Bible verses memorizing election

As election day approaches, how can you stay sane and spiritually healthy? Well, here are three Bible verses to consider (and memorize if you have time): • “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27 ESV). Who are your political enemies? If you are a Trump supporter, it may be Biden supporters. If you’re a Biden supporter, it may be Trump ...

 

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 ...

 

Exploring Hope: Being gospel-centered

If you look at the beliefs section of the church I pastor in Garnet Valley, Hope Presbyterian, you’ll notice that we desire to be “gospel-centered.” Now, if you don’t know what the word gospel means, I encourage you to read the book of Romans in the New Testament and explore this link, which summarizes the gospel in clear language. I would also love to buy you coffee ...

 

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 ...

 

Exploring Hope: The past and the future

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”  (Psalms 81:10 ESV) According to this verse from Psalm 81, God wants us to root our lives in two realities simultaneously — the past and the future. First, let’s look at how God wants us to root our lives in the past. He starts with a reminder (and don’t ...

 

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 ...

 

Exploring Hope: Search me, O God

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”  (Psalms 139:23-24 ESV) We all want to be understood on some level. But sometimes we’re afraid of being truly known. What if we’re vulnerable and people still reject us? So, we choose isolation and anonymity because it ...

 

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 ...

 

Exploring Hope: ‘In God We Trust’

Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Now, for people in the modern world, trusting in chariots and horses may sound like a pleasant metaphor. But remember, these were prime examples of human power and might in the ancient world. Therefore, I wonder how David would have written this verse in 2020: ...

 

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 ...