An Activist Covenant: Lekh Lekha 5781

Destiny is a seductive concept. The idea that our personal and even national history is somehow predetermined can be comforting, especially when hazards abound and the best path forward is hard to discern. Historian Niall Ferguson surveys the tenacity of deterministic thinking among religious and secular thinkers through the ages in his book Virtual History….

Chariots of God: Lekh Lekha 5780

Once or twice a year I walk past the statue of Atlas on Fifth Avenue at 51 ST and imagine how it would feel to bear the weight of the whole world in your arms. The thought is absurd, of course, yet sometimes when one is overwhelmed it can feel that way. Many people experience…

Listen to Sarah’s Voice: Lekh Lekha 5778

What does Sarah have to say? She and Abraham were introduced at the end of Parashat Noah, and she is a major character in chapters 12-23 of Genesis. But we hear precious little from her. What is she thinking all this time? When her husband takes their family away from not only his homeland, but…

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…

Patriarchs in Search of Peace: Lekh Lekha 5775/2014

One of my favorite songs by the late great Arik Einstein is called אוהב להיות בבית (listen here; lyrics below). He describes the heroic adventures of many people who go off climbing mountains and riding horses, and then says that he, however, prefers to be at home, “with my lemon tea, old books, the same…

What’s in a Name? Lekh Lekha 5774/2013

What’s in a name? Quite a lot, but you need to know the story. My family name, Nevins, is now five generations old, chosen by my paternal great-grandfather Haskell Neviadomsky at the time of his naturalization. He came to this country in 1896, fleeing the czar’s draft, and apparently decided that he would never make it…