Shabbat Sukkot 5779: Sin Past the Point of Return

Each of our three pilgrimage festivals is associated with one of the Megillot. On Passover we read the magnificent poetry of the Song of Songs; on Shavuot the moving story of Ruth, and then there is Sukkot. Ecclesiastes is an important book, but it isn’t such a joy to read. First, it is very long,…

Rosh HaShanah 5779: Recovering from Moral Injury

Out damn spot! Out I say! Who said that line? [Reply] Correct, this is perhaps the most famous line in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, and it belongs to his wife, Lady Macbeth. Macbeth was the murderer, but it was she who goaded her husband on to the heinous act of killing their houseguest King Duncan. It…

Nitzavim 5778: Remember the Children!

The cries of children, and the sobbing of parents, ring in our ears each Rosh Hashanah. The Torah and haftarah readings emphasize the perils faced by sons Ishmael and Isaac, and the terrors experienced by mothers Hagar, Sarah, Hannah, and Rachel. To witness a child in danger evokes a nearly universal response to rush to…

Ki Tavo 5778: An Understanding Heart

Moses presents the people of Israel with a paradox toward the end of the parashah. In 29:1-3, he first states that they have “seen with their own eyes” all the miracles wrought by God on their behalf from the Exodus until this point. But then he states that God did not give them, “a heart…

Re’eh 5778: Children of God

In my more rational moments, I have trouble believing in a personal God and am put off by anthropomorphic imagery. I get it—infinity is impossible to imagine, and so we compare God to more familiar relationships—to a person, to a parent, to a partner. Maimonides broke the naïve experience of the mighty hand of God,…