Yom Kippur 5778: Uplifting Our Lip Service

[This is not my YK sermon, but a message to cantorial and rabbinical students] The English put-down of “giving lip-service” rings hollow to Jewish ears. Sure, if your actions don’t match your words, there’s a problem, but words are not mere markers for action. Often enough, they themselves are actions. We serve God through worship;…

Rosh Hashanah 5778: Just Mercy

The pick-up truck was parked outside a prison in rural Alabama. It was festooned with Confederate flags and bigoted bumper stickers; there was a shotgun in a rack. Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer, fresh out of Harvard Law School, coming to visit a new client imprisoned on death row there. He noticed the truck…

Ki Tavo 5777: Blessed in Both Directions

Sometimes translations can’t help but make a mess of the original. A prime example is Deuteronomy 28:6, which in Hebrew consists of six poetic words: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה בְּבֹאֶךָ וּבָרוּךְ אַתָּה בְּצֵאתֶךָ. JPS requires 15 words to render this in English, “Blessed shall you be in your comings, and blessed shall you be in your goings.”…