Confessions of Joy: Vayikra 5781

The Hebrew word “semikhah” in various forms alludes to drawing close, leaning into or supporting another, or laying on of hands. In that purposeful contact there is a transfer of energy and the establishment of connection between two living beings. When Moses lays hands on Joshua, he confers spiritual power, ordaining Joshua as his successor….

Coming Clean: Vayikra/Zakhor 5779

False oaths are an especially pernicious form of social crime because they cause serious harm to individuals while also imperiling an entire system. Oaths were administered using the divine name (and in rabbinic Judaism, while holding a Torah scroll or pair of tefillin), and so, false oaths were also viewed as a form of heresy….

Wholeness after Error: Vayikra 5777

The world of Leviticus can be disorienting, especially in the chapters which focus on the details of the korbanot, the sacrifices with all of their bloody and smoky mess. Upon closer examination, each of these ancient forms of worship is recognizably connected to a modern mode of worship. We too approach God at times with…

For the Sins of the Leader: VaYikra/HaHodesh 5775

If the first two books of Torah can be understood according to their Hebrew names—Bereshit, the book of origins, and Sh’mot, the book of names (or identities), then this week we begin Vayikra, the book of calling. We discover within it a divine calling—to approach the Tent of Meeting, just as Moses did, and to…

The Eyes of the Community: Vayikra 5774

Can you imagine what it would look like if the Jewish people took collective responsibility for creating a righteous and just society? If instead of a squabbling and loosely organized confederation of miniature camps, we had a truly representative Jewish leadership that held itself accountable to the people and to God? I confess that it is hard to imagine such…