30 Days – Parshat Chukat-Balak 5780

The time period of one month is significant for Jewish reasons such as Sheloshim (the first 30 days after the death of a loved one) and practical reasons such as bill payment. But why sets of 30? The Torah understands that it takes time to adjust to new circumstances, and perhaps a month is enough to encourage that transition.

Taking Ourselves Too Seriously

I want to discuss one sentence in our weekly Torah parshah which is missing a direct object. The verse says simply, “And Korach took.” It neglects to tell us what he took. An attentive reader keeps waiting for the sentence to finish. “What did he take? Tell me, I can’t stand the suspense!” Our ancestors, ever mindful of such slight grammatical problems, scurried to uncover God’s presence and the hidden meaning in this anomaly.

Take Care – Parshat Korach 5780

As you may know, the Jewish concept of tzedakah comes from the root for “justice.” In other words, a just society is one in which we take care of one another. We recognize that each person has a purpose to fulfill and, even in a literal sense, something to give back.

What I Learned Wearing Ritual Fringes

At the end of this week’s parasha, Sh’lakh L’kh, God presents the Israelites with a new commandment. It is the mitzvah of tzitzit, of wearing a fringes on the corners of our garments. This passage becomes the third paragraph of the Sh’ma prayer, our central declaration of faith in God. It also is the proof text for why Jews use tallitot or prayer shawls during services.

If Only – Parshat Shlach Lecha 5780

It’s human nature to doubt ourselves and wonder how different our lives would be had we made different choices. It sounds impossible that we'd ever get to try out both scenarios, but interestingly, our Torah portion this week presents us with such an example.

God Was the First Antiracist

There’s not a lot of explicit material about race in the Torah. Yet this week’s parsha deals with it, and the timing could not be more apt, even as the lesson being offered is not immediately explicit.

Second Chances – Parshat Beha’alotcha 5780

Event organizers around the world have been facing the same dilemma for months: to cancel or to reschedule. Sadly, COVID-19 has delayed or canceled countless plans, which of course is expected if we’re going to try to lessen the toll it takes on human life. Interestingly, there’s a direct parallel in the Torah this week about postponing or extending things because of illness.