Terumah 5774: A Mishkan on Your Head

I had an epiphany the other day at Shaharit as I sat quietly in my tallit and tefillin during the reader’s repetition. Looking at the enormous menorot in our WLSS sanctuary, it occurred to me that the two shins on my head-tefillin, one with three branches and one with four, were somewhat like a 7-branched menorah flanking…

Mishpatim 5774: Eating, and Seeing God

Fridays are ideally reserved for two of my favorite activities—studying Torah and cooking for my family. On this day I follow leads from the Torah portion through centuries of rabbinic interpretation, seeking to deepen my understanding of the scope of Jewish wisdom. And in the back of my mind, I am keeping track of time, remembering when…

Yitro 5774: Fear of Fire–A Blessing Then and Now

The experience of watching my block engulfed in smoke and fire last Shabbat set the stage for Parshat Yitro in a unique fashion. The Decalogue is framed (at 19:18 and then 20:15) by descriptions of the fire on Mount Sinai, which seems to become a volcano before the terrified eyes of Israel. Classical midrashim compare…