Category: Torah

BaMidbar and COVID-19: Forty Days? Forty Months? Forty Years?

         According to the Torah, we are just now, with this week’s parsha, entering Bamidbar/the wilderness.  According to us, it feels like 40 years of wandering aimlessly, hoping to reach the promised land with no idea how to get there, when we will arrive, and how we will survive along the way.  It’s one thing …

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Tazria, Metzora, and Social Distancing 2020

Tazria, Metzora, and Social Distancing- 2020 Rabbi Bonnie Koppell          An unknown illness erupts.  Waiting for a diagnosis, and then, quarantine.  Have the symptoms dissipated?  Keep checking and continue to stay isolated from the community.  Examination by a healthcare professional to determine if it’s safe to be with people.  If so, purification rituals and cleansing …

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Nadav, Avihu, and COVID-19

Nadav, Avihu, and COVID-19 Rabbi Bonnie Koppell          I trust everyone had a good Pesach and our Torah reading this week, Shemini, finds us exactly half-way through the Torah.  It is AMAZING that the rabbis so loved the text that they counted every letter, determining that the letter vav in the word “gachon,” appearing this …

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Vayigash: “Being Right/Being Happy”

A couple of weeks ago, Ron and I were pondering a challenging situation, and he said something that I can’t stop thinking about.  His comment was-  “I don’t need to be right, I just want to be happy.”  Personally,  I so resist this wise perspective.  I DO need to be right- I want to stomp …

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The Rabbi’s Struggle With Faith

           This is probably an odd confession for a rabbi- I struggle with a sense of faith. As someone who is too often in the human tragedy business, I just can’t reconcile so much suffering as “God’s will.” I am not comforted by a thought that “Everything happens for a reason,” and I cringe when …

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B’Har and Social Responsibility

         Parshat B’har speaks of fundamental issues of justice and equality.  “And you shall proclaim liberty to all the inhabitants of the land, to all who dwell upon her,” the verse which adorns the Liberty Bell, has its source in this chapter.  The text is concerned with distribution of resources, stressing the fundamental equality of …

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Tetzaveh and Interrupting

         Is it kosher to interrupt someone?  According to an article by Kira Bindrim, “There are times when it’s okay to interrupt someone.  If they have food on their face?  If their dress is tucked into their tights.  If a tsunami is coming up behind them.  And there are times when it really isn’t okay, …

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Vayechi and the Meaning of Life

We come to the final parsha in the book of Genesis- Vayechi- And he lived, referring to the patriarch Jacob. It is ironic that there are two Torah portions that have the word “chai”- meaning life- in their names.  The other one is Chayai Sarah, The life of Sarah.  Chayai Sarah tells us about Sarah’s …

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Learning from Pinchas: What NOT to Do

This week’s parsha is named for Pinchas. Remember him? He’s the guy who was upset about the behavior of his fellow Israelites who were consorting with some of the local women. His solution? He stabbed one couple to death, and, was actually rewarded for his efforts. The inability to tolerate diverse points of view is …

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Balak, Bilaam, and the Israelite Refugees

Massive numbers of people amassed in a temporary encampment. The people of the land feel threatened. They are in dread of the children. The southern border of Arizona? No. This week’s Torah portion, Balak. Here’s how the parsha begins, in Numbers 22:3- “Moab was alarmed because that people was so numerous. . . and they …

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