You neglected the Rock that begot you, you forgot the God who brought you forth (Deuteronomy 32:18).
Jacob ben Wolf Kranz taught, You neglected the Rock that begot you – remember that God is the Creator of you and all things. You forgot – God gave you the ability to “forget” so that you would be able to put out of your mind all the sufferings that may come your way. But you have mis-used your God-given ability to forget, because you keep forgetting the One who created you and gave you this particular skill. More
שׁ֚וּבָה יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל עַ֖ד יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ כִּ֥י כָשַׁ֖לְתָּ בַּֽעֲוֹנֶךָ
O Israel, return to the Eternal your God; for you have stumbled in your iniquity.
Take with you words and turn to the Eternal and say, Forgive all iniquity and accept the good and we will offer the fruit of our lips (Hosea 14:2-3).
The notion of t’shuvah means that the transgression does not contain an ineradicable stain from straying from the right path. At the same time, we find here that “your iniquity” is addressed to the individual and not to the entire community. More
Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).
At this season, I pick up Rabbi Alan Lew’s book, This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared. This book bears the subtitle, “The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation.” Rabbi Lew writes, “Look. Pay attention to your life… Everything depends on our seeing our lives with clear eyes, seeing the potential blessing in each moment as well as the potential curse, choosing the former, forswearing the latter” (p 67). More
This Torah portion provides the instructions on five types of sacrifices to be offered in the Tabernacle for God. The Hebrew word korban, literally meaning “bring near”, is most often translated as a “sacrifice” or an “offering.” In English these are two different things. A “sacrifice” is something you give up for God or for some greater good. An “offering” is a contribution, a gift, a presentation made to God or another person. For the modern reader (you all qualify), bringing an “offering” would seem to be a more “whole-hearted” gift. More
Congregations are an expression of God’s presence in the world and an expression of God’s love and care for all humankind. Congregations are places of beauty and simplicity, openness and acceptance, justice and peace. Can we do all that and be all that without belonging to a synagogue? Of course you can; but you would miss one key element. More
And God spoke to Noah and said, “In one year, I am going to make it rain and cover the whole earth with water until all flesh is destroyed, but I want you to save the righteous people and two of every kind of living thing on earth. Therefore, I am commanding you to build an Ark.”
In a flash of lightning, God delivered the specifications for an Ark. In fear and trembling, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the Ark. “Remember,” said God, “You must complete the Ark and bring everything aboard in one year.” More
Shabbat Table Talks
Despite God’s message that they will be redeemed from slavery, the Israelites’ spirits remain crushed. God instructs Moses and Aaron to deliver the Israelites from the land of Egypt. The genealogy of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and their descendants is recorded. Moses and Aaron perform a miracle with a snake and relate to Pharaoh God’s message to let the Israelites leave Egypt. God brings down the first seven plagues on Egypt: blood, frogs, lice, insects, animal disease, boils, and hail. After each episode, Pharaoh reneges on his offer to let the Israelites leave Egypt to worship God. More
“Let me go over, I pray, and see the good land…” (Deut 3:25).
Moses is asking God to let him go into the Promised Land. Is it not obvious that if he will go over into the land, he will be able to see it?
But a man must pray at all times that God may cause him to see the good in everything. Therefore Moses prayed: “Let me go over…and see the good land…cause me to see only the good side of the Promised Land.” More
The duties in the Mishkan of the Gershonites, Merarites, and Koathites are detailed. God speaks to Moses about ritually unclean people, repentant individuals, and possible cases of adultery. The obligations of a Nazirite vow are explained. God tells Moses how to teach Aaron and his sons the Priestly Blessing. Moses consecrates the Sanctuary, and the tribal chieftains bring offerings. More