Shabbat BeMidbar and Shavuot 5775: God Speaks in the Wilderness

The summer after graduating college, I went backpacking with a friend in North Cascades National Park in Washington. The sun shone brightly on Lake Chelan as we were ferried deep into the woods, landing at the little outpost of Stehekin to begin our weeklong trek. It was a euphoric beginning, but soon both the weather…

Shabbat Emor 5775

Perhaps the most radical idea in Jewish theology is that God’s holy status is dependent upon human conduct, specifically on the behavior of Israel. Far from being an “unmoved mover,” the God of Israel is deeply invested in the conduct of God’s servants. The rabbis, especially the mystics among them, understand the covenant as an…

Shabbat Aharei Mot Kedoshim 5775: Making and Unmaking Distinctions

Many years ago a teacher challenged me to name a mitzvah that had no personal significance. It took but a second for the word shatnez to cross my lips—I just couldn’t think of any spiritual insight that could come from worrying about the fabric blend in my clothes. As a city dweller, I didn’t have…