Shabbat Hanukkah 5775: The Light of Compassion Shines from Within

Around JTS when we cite Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, we refer to the great twentieth century theologian who fled Europe during the Holocaust and spent his final decades teaching Torah at JTS, writing a remarkable series of books that continue to inspire a diverse array of Jewish and Christian thinkers, and practicing social justice activism…

Shabbat VaYeshev 5775: Jacob’s Refusal to be Comforted

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks,” is one of Shakespeare’s great lines in Hamlet (Act III, Sc. II). Ironically, the queen’s fervent vow that she would never remarry should her husband die comes across as suspicious, and false. So too whenever we witness a histrionic protestation, somewhere in the back of our mind is the…

Shabbat VaYishlah 5775: Two Camps of Contemporary Jewry

“And Jacob split the people with him…into two camps…saying ‘if Esau comes upon one camp and smites it, the other camp will be a remnant.’” The ancient sages discerned that Jacob prepared for his fraught fraternal encounter with three strategies—with gifts, with prayer and with battle preparations. He sent generous gifts to placate Esau, he…

Praying for Rain in Bavel

Those who attended Shaharit in WLSS on Wednesday had the treat of hearing Rabbi Joel Roth explain the history of how diaspora Jews settled on Dec. 4/5 for the beginning of the petition for rain, ותן טל ומטר לברכה. It’s a long and complicated story related to the calendrical reform of Pope Gregory XIII in…