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Eyes on You

September 19, 2016

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One year is ending and another is beginning. We stand before G-d and ask him to bless us this year. We think of all of the good things that happened over the past year and hope that they will be repeated and multiplied. We think of all of the bad things—or the not so good [...]

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A time to take stock of our lives and our world

September 4, 2016

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The 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack on America is almost upon us. Let us stop and reflect on this moment. As Jews, let us also see this moment through the lens of Torah. The 9/11 attacks were proof that there are people who hate us and the freedoms we stand for, who want [...]

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True Leadership

August 14, 2016

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We all feel hurt when something we love is taken away from us, especially something that we ourselves worked hard to build. Who could know this better than Moses, who reminds us in this week’s Torah portion how he pleaded with God to allow him to enter the promised land. With God’s help, Moses had [...]

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Magical Thinking

July 18, 2016

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Remember Mr. Ed, the talking horse of the early 60s sitcom? I think of him every year when Parshat Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9) rolls around, as it does this week. The chumash Etz Hayim describes Balak as containing “what may be the only comic passage in the Torah,” albeit one with a serious message. Balak is [...]

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Power and pathos: a visit to the cemetery

May 20, 2016

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This coming Monday, most Americans will celebrate Memorial Day with pilgrimages to malls and outdoor spaces. Shopping and the performance of beginning- of-summer rituals will be the order of the day. But a few of our fellow citizens will reenact the ritual that gave rise to Memorial Day, visiting cemeteries and paying our respects at [...]

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Staying awake at night

May 6, 2016

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“Rabbi Chanina ben Chachinai said: One who is awake at night or goes on the road by himself, and turns his heart to wasteful things, this person is taking his life in his hands.” —Ethics of Our Fathers The above text gives us an important practical lesson: If you are up at night or walking [...]

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Passover’s mighty spirit of renewal

April 22, 2016

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The Biblical account of the celebrated Exodus from Egypt became the leitmotif of Rabbinic theology, perceiving in the Israelites’ redemption from a House of Bondage God’s greatness, guidance and goodness. Thus the Shalosh Regalim, the three Pilgrim Festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot revolving around the common theme of the Exodus, point at the divine [...]

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Extending invitations, building bridges

April 8, 2016

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The Passover seder is one of the most observed and memorable rituals on the Jewish calendar. What is it that makes the seder so special? After all, it’s the same every year—the same food, the same text, the same mishigas—or so it would seem. In fact, no two seders are ever the same. Every year [...]

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God’s essence

March 25, 2016

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“No human can see me and live,” said God to Moses. Why might that be? When the Torah was revealed at Mount Sinai and the presence of God descended upon the mountain, the Israelites were repeatedly warned to stay away lest somehow the incredible force of God’s presence should end their lives. Indeed, at many [...]

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Living in Norfolk, living in Shushan

March 11, 2016

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I know when Purim time comes around that it is a time for joy and silliness —and I enjoy it as much as anybody. However, I also regret that our silliness celebration often masks (pun intended) the fact that Purim is our holiday. What do I mean by that? Purim is the only Biblical holiday [...]

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