4 Existential Questions Worth Asking on Thanksgiving

Published by The Forward, Nov. 22, 2016 Thanksgiving is the most Jewish of American holidays. It recalls the Torah’s instruction that “when you have eaten your fill, give thanks to the Lord your God for the good land which God has given you” (Deut. 8:10). Thanksgiving calls on Americans not to hoard the earth’s bounty,…

VaYera 5777: I Will Fear No Evil

Fear is the sharpest of two-edged swords. In psychological terms, it triggers the fight or flight response, either clarifying the mind to organize effective action, or causing a person to flee or even freeze in place. In Judaism fear is likewise a nuanced phenomenon. It is often viewed negatively as a trait that can lead…

Moving the Matriarchs from Objects to Subjects: Lekh Lekha 5777

How dashing and heroic does Abram appear in his devotion to God! With alacrity he relocates upon command, risks everything to rescue his captive nephew Lot, and circumcises himself and all of his household males at the end of the portion. Yet there is also a moment in which Abram appears craven and insensitive, namely…

A Tale of Two Dystopias: Noah 5777

Does it feel lately that the fate of the world is at stake? If so, the Torah seems intent to validate and deepen our concern. Here we are just days before one of the most disconcerting elections in American history, and we have also arrived at Parashat Noah, the original dystopian tale. In fact, our…

Bereshit 5777: Only One Immortality at a Time

You know what demands keen knowledge? Naming things. The ability to observe and identify one’s environment is no small task, and yet Adam is capable of naming every animal, even before eating from the tree of knowledge. The Torah seems intent on clarifying that it was not knowledge in general that God sought to keep…