Bereishit

Bereishit

WHAT ADAM LACKED When challenged by G-d as to how he could have eaten of the forbidden fruit, Adam replies, “The women, whom You gave to be with me – she gave me of the fruit and I ate.” (Gen 3:12.) Rashi, quoting the Talmud, tersely comments: “Here Adam shows his ingratitude.” If, in the biblical account, Adam is supposed to be the first man, created by G-d Himself, how could he display such an ungratefulness to G-d who had given him life and a wife? The Sefer Hachinuch (13th century) observes that qualities like gratitude are learned behavior. We...

Repentence

Repentence

The month of September seems to be totally overwhelming! Kids back to School, a new academic year at JFS, the Selichot and High Holy days in full flow and it feels like our foot is on the accelerator in full throttle! It has been quite intense. On Rosh Hashana, we proclaimed G-d as our King and recognized the awesome power He has over us. Then comes Yom Kippur. We remembered the fact that our King is actually our Father. We begged Him to take us back. On Yom Kippur, we spend the day, immersed in holiness, praying the entire day...

Vayelech

Vayelech

WHAT CHAPTER WILL WE WRITE IN THE BOOK OF LIFE? Judaism takes the simple things of life and makes them holy. Kashrut makes eating holy. Kiddush makes drinking holy. The laws of family purity make the physical relationship between husband and wife holy. Study sanctifies the intellect. Prayer reconfigures the mind. Constant acts of generosity and care sharpen our emotional intelligence, honing our skills of empathy. Judaism, as Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik put it, sees creativity as the essence of humanity, and our greatest creation is our self. We forge our life in the fire of love: love of God, the...

Ki Tetzei

Ki Tetzei

THE WATERS OF NOAH Today, we read two Haftarot: the one for Ki Teitze, preceded by the one for Re’eh, which we omitted two weeks’ ago because it was Rosh Chodesh. The Haftarot comprise adjacent passages in the book of Isaiah and are the messages of consolation that we read between Tisha B’Av and Rosh Hashanah. In today’s message, Isaiah promises, in the name of G-d, that just as he had sworn in the days of Noah, not to bring another flood to destroy the world, so He will not punish His people again: “For this is to Me [as]...

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