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Rabbi’s Shabbat Message

Rabbi Ariel’s Shabbat message is delivered to the congregation in our weekly e-newsletter. You can also use the links below to visit the Rabbi’s blog, Torah for the 21st Century.

Torah for the 21st Century

This too is Torah, and I need to learn it

Shabbat Nitzavim-VaYelekh: Looking Back to See Ahead

Posted: September 15, 2017, 8:58 pm
What a year 5777 was. Do you remember back, past last November? The presidential election came as such a tremendous surprise to so many that it makes last High Holy Days – only a year ago – seem as if that time belongs to another world. Interestingly enough, if we look farther back, we may … Continue reading

Shabbat Ki Tetze: Doing Battle In Jewish

Posted: September 1, 2017, 8:39 pm
The first words of this week’s parashah are כי תצא למלחמה ki tetze l’milkhamah, “when you go out to do battle.” When one looks for these words in the Torah scroll, it’s easy to mistake the place, for the same phrase appears three times in a short space of parchment. All three have in common that … Continue reading

the Month of Elul: Dreaming Like a Jew

Posted: August 31, 2017, 4:50 pm
Consider this story, from 19th century Poland, a time when Jews eagerly embraced modernity as a way out of persecution and oppression: A maskil, that is, a Jew who valued secular knowledge, and was, further, the kind of maskil who disdained Jewish teachings as primitive, went to the Kotzker Rabbi one day and said, “in the Talmud … Continue reading

Shabbat Shoftim: Yes, Be Judgmental – Justly

Posted: August 25, 2017, 6:21 pm
Parashat Shoftim begins with the description of the necessary supervision of an ideal community. First one must have judges, then those who carry out judgments. And of course, judgements must be just – as just as human beings can manage to be. Nuances of law, circumstances of context, and our own internal biases must all … Continue reading

Eclipse Torah: Martin Buber on the Eclipse of G*d

Posted: August 20, 2017, 2:21 pm
Such is the nature of this hour. But what of the next?  Religion is essentially the act of holding fast to G*d. And that does not mean holding fast to an image that one has made of G*d, nor even holding fast to the faith in G*d that one has conceived. It means holding fast … Continue reading

Shabbat Re’eh: Blessing, and Curse, and Charlottesville

Posted: August 18, 2017, 4:39 pm
This Shabbat our parashah begins with words that are both simple and profound: רְאֵה, אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם–הַיּוֹם:  בְּרָכָה, וּקְלָלָה. Look, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: אֶת-הַבְּרָכָה–אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁמְעוּ, אֶל-מִצְו‍ֹת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתכֶם, הַיּוֹם. blessing, if you hold to the mitzvot of HaShem your God, which you are given … Continue reading

Voices From Charlottesville

Posted: August 15, 2017, 8:56 pm
I stood in a crowd while a mob advocating genocide pepper sprayed us and threw smoke bombs and rocks at us and the police stood by and calmly watched. They murdered people in my city today. They committed acts of terrorism. If I ever hear any of you try and derail this into a “free … Continue reading

Shabbat Ekev: Can You Hear the Footsteps?

Posted: August 11, 2017, 9:29 pm
Our parashat hashavua, the part of the Torah we study this week, is called Ekev. The word refers to a certain sense of causality: “it will happen that all will be well with you because you follow the divine law” says Moshe to the Israelites: as a result of your devotion to this path, you … Continue reading

Shabbat Nakhamu: Sometimes the Answer is No

Posted: August 4, 2017, 9:13 pm
This Shabbat we study the second parashah of Devarim, Deuteronomy, called Va’Etkhanan, “I implored.” The name refers to the pleading of Moshe Rabbenu, Moses our Teacher, to be allowed to enter the Land of Promise which has been his life’s dream and every day work. According to the Midrash (ancient Rabbinical literature which show us … Continue reading

Tisha B’Av: Beyond the Sadness – I Must Own This Evil if I Would Behold the Good

Posted: July 31, 2017, 7:07 pm
On Monday evening July 31, and all day Tuesday August 1, the Jewish world observes this year’s onset of the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av, called simply by that name in Hebrew: ט’ באב – Tisha B’Av, the great Fast Day of mourning for what was destroyed and will never be again. What shall … Continue reading

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