Humility from Heaven: Pinhas 5781

“And there shall be a sin offering for the Lord” (Numbers 28:15).   Did God commit a sin? What? When? We know all about the sin of Adam and Eve, but God is perfect, right? Indeed, the Torah does describe God in Deuteronomy 32:4 as “The Rock, the Perfect One…whose ways are just..who is never false,…

A Better Way to Pay Restitution: Naso 5781

Many years ago my car was stolen from its spot outside our apartment in Michigan. In the middle of the night a police officer woke us up and informed me that someone had been pulled over while driving it with a smashed window down Northwestern Highway—had I by chance lent it to them? I had…

Stand up straight? Behar-Behukotai 5781

Just before the Torah switches from blessing to rebuke in our second portion, Behukotai, God reminds the people that they were removed and liberated from Egyptian servitude in order to walk upright, and without restraint (Levit. 13:13). The word for “upright” קוֹמְמִיּוּת is unusual and ambiguous. As Rashi comments, it means “standing straight,” which is…

Whose land is it? Pinhas 5778

Back in 1976, John McPhee wrote a beautiful book about Alaska called Coming into the Country. In it he profiled the peoples—native and immigrant, rural and urban—and the varied environments of American’s largest state (more than double Texas, the next in line). About land ownership he wrote (83), “The federal government, long ago, used to…