Behukotai 5774: Walking Together with God

[Written and originally posted for the JTS Torah Commentary] I saw a strange thing on my walk to minyan the other morning. At a quiet side street with no cross-traffic in sight, a woman stood still, waiting for the walk sign. All around her people bustled by, peeking quickly to make sure no truck was…

Shabbat Behar 5774: Creating a Just Society in Israel

The confluence of Yom Ha’Atzmaut with Parashat Behar reminds us that the Torah is designed not for individual spiritual expression, but for collective fulfillment. Our short portion emphasizes communal responsibility. Its distinctive mitzvot of the sabbatical and jubilee years both require individuals to relinquish their private holdings, whether on real estate or over other people, so…

Emor 5774: Counting Omer by Days, Weeks, and Divinity

A favorite heirloom from my teacher and mother Phyllis Nevins z”l is an olive wood Omer counter that she bought in Israel. Each night we twist a little wood peg to advance the scroll to announce the new day in handsome STaM letters. Today is the seventeenth day of counting Omer, which is two weeks and three…