Righteousness Has A High Standard: Parashat Vayera

Over the years, I’ve become quite the champion of Abraham as the epitome of righteousness.  Among the evidence I’ve adduced for this position is his negotiation with God on the question of whether Sodom and Gemorah should be destroyed.  I’ve argued for interpreting the interesting circumstance in our parasha, in which God shares His desire to destroy the cities — so disturbed […]

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Hearing The Cry: Kol Nidre 2011

Eighteen years ago I returned to Kansas City to teach Torah at The Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy.  On the side, I taught Hebrew school Saturday and Sunday mornings and Monday and Wednesday afternoons, and  Melton mini-school one evening a week.  I also began tutoring students for Bar and Bat Mitzvah.  It was, I recall, quite a grind. A couple of years later, […]

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Balancing Faith and Doubt: Rosh Hashana

Thirty years ago I had the humble privilege of entering seminary to study for the rabbinate.  For the next five years in New York and Jerusalem, I immersed myself in the Bible and Talmud, and Jewish history and philosophy, and modern and medieval Hebrew literature under the tutelage of some of the greatest Jewish teachers of that generation.   When I was ordained, […]

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Kiyyum Ha'adamah – A New Paradigm for a New Era: : Parashat Ki Tissa

In the Torah’s textual sequence, the instructions for the Tabernacle precede the sin of the golden calf.  Some commentators, however, invoke the principle ayn muk’dam um’uhar baTorah – the textual sequence of the Torah doesn’t necessarily follow chronological order – to reverse the chronology.  By that interpretation, God conceives of the Tabernacle only after realizing it was unrealistic to expect a community […]

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The Real Wisdom of the Urim and Tummim: Parashat T’tzaveh

The subtleties and nuances of everyday interrelations between people – commercial transactions, real estate agreements, employment contracts, just to name a few example – can be so complicated, so impenetrable that, when they come into conflict, “only God,” as it were, could accomplish a just outcome, God being the equivalent of the Urim v’Tumim.  How often do adversaries in court over complex […]

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