Category: Torah

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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Terumah- Where Does God Dwell?

    Have you ever built or remodeled your home? It is rarely a fun or pleasant experience and there are SO many details to keep track of, and, SO many decisions to be made. Well, God takes care of that for us in this week’s Torah portion, where we read of the construction of …

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Shabbat Shekalim and Giving

    Since Ron proposed to me on May 8, 2016, Shabbat Shekalim will never be the same to me again. Tonight we usher in a special Shabbat, Shabbat Shekalim, as we read in the book of Exodus that every adult (male in the Torah) was to give a half shekel to sustain the religious …

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Flip Phones and Parshat Bo

Were you as shocked as I was to read that flip phones, aka dumb phones, are making a comeback? Social commentators suggest that it’s about a retro cool factor, or, driven by the increasing cost of smart phones, or, perhaps, concerns for greater security. But I wonder if it may be something subtler and deeper? …

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Justice For All

Liberty and Justice For All- Rabbi Bonnie Koppell It’s okay, in the eyes of Jewish tradition, to tell a lie. A little white lie for the sake of shalom- to maintain harmony in our relationships. “Look what I bought today- I got such a great price!” So what if you don’t love it- say something …

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