5775: A Green Rosh HaShanah

Could it be that Rosh HaShanah is not a Jewish holiday? No—it couldn’t be! Rosh HaShanah is the Jewish New Year. On Rosh HaShanah Jews gather in Jewish houses of worship and say Jewish prayers. We hold our Jewish books, and we blow our Jewish horns. We even take one day and turn it into…

Nitzavim/Vayelekh 5774: Exile from the Land, and from the Earth

Yearning to enter and inhabit the land is the great desire that suffuses Deuteronomy; fear of exile is the dark counterpart that lurks insistently by its side. Midrash Sifre (Ekev, piska 43) says that, “exile is equal to all other afflictions.” Indeed, the experience of exile has been the all-too-real nightmare of Israel, though paradoxically,…

Ki Tavo 5774: A Mezuzah for all the World to See

Chapter 27 of Deuteronomy describes various rituals to mark the future entrance of Israel into the promised land, including the plastering of stones and inscription of “these words of Torah” upon them. I imagine these stones as a type of national mezuzah marking the entrance to the land. Still, much about this mitzvah is unclear….

Ki Tetze 5774: A Safe Home for Escaped Slaves and Refugees

In a summer dominated by the battle between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and also between Russian-backed separatists and the government in Eastern Ukraine, the violent expansion of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, and by racial unrest here in America, one dramatic story that received less attention in…