Mikketz 5774: Taking Control of our own Destiny on Hanukah

Each year we eavesdrop on Joseph as he eavesdrops on his clueless brothers. He has placed a “melitz” or interpreter between them in order to extend the ruse that he is a foreign potentate rather than their brother. And so he learns that Reuben tried to rescue him from the pit. This is presumably why…

Vayeshev 5774: Saint Joseph and the Scottsboro Boys

One of the most famous injustices in American history was the trial of nine black teens for an alleged rape of two white girls aboard a freight train on March 25, 1931. The “Scottsboro Boys” were tried in groups, and eight of them were sentenced to death (the ninth, who was only twelve at the…

Vayishlah 5774: Dina, the Dangerous Sister

If you could write a subtitle for the book of Genesis, what would it be? My entry would be Genesis: Oh, Brother! That’s because brothers, and the fraught relationships between them, are the beams upon which the structure of this book is built. Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, and of course…

VaYetze 5774: One Runaway Teen, One Patriarch to Be

Temperatures are dropping here in New York City, and winter approaches quickly. I like the cool air—it clears my mind—but then again, I have easy access to a warm and comfortable home day and night. For over 50,000 New Yorkers, there is no such luck. Many stay in shelters, like where I am now, staffing the overnight shift at Ansche…