Dvar Torah ~ Devarim ~ 4 Av 5780 / 25 July 2020Intertextuality is a term that describes how one part of the Bible interprets, explains and responds to another part of the Scriptures. While the Rabbis of Talmud read the Bible as if it were one text, we are better served to read the Bible as a compilation of books and spiritual perspectives that collectively become a divine symphony (Knohl)....
Pinẖas ~ 19 Tammuz 5780 / 11 July 2020Usually Torah lettering must be perfect. Here, in the word shalom, a letter (vav) is cracked.The context is a plague caused by a flagrant violation of the norms of public worship, an association of sexual activity and idolatry. Pinẖas stops the plague and, acting as a vigilante, executes the guilty Israelite man and Midianite woman.I see that...
An old man met a young man who asked:
“Do you remember me?”
The older man said no.
The young man told the older man that he had been his student.
The teacher asked:
“How do you spend your days?”
The young man answered:
“Well, I became a teacher. In fact, I became a teacher because you
inspired me to be like you.”
The older man, curious, asked the young man...
In a mishnah in Pirkei
Avot, Ben Bag Bag states "Hafoh ba hafoh ba, de'kula
ba - Turn it and turn it, for everything is in it."
The words of the Torah may remain the same, but we
are different each time we return to them. We can always reinterpret the
ancient words anew.
Parashat Beha'alotkha calls our attention
to many themes and ideas from the period of the Israelites...
Since February, a determined and mighty group from the Beth Tzedec community has been studying a page of Tanakh every day. It is a small 929 day project. Currently we are in the middle of Sefer Vayikra, the Book of Leviticus.
Earlier this week, we studied the first chapter of parshat Aharei Mot, chapter 16, which is intimately connected to Yom Kippur, as it describes the High Priest’s...
Although most of us focus attention on
the plea of Yehudah and the reunion of the family of Yaakov, the conclusion of
the weekly reading directs us to consider the relationship of Yosef’s extended
family with the resident population of Egypt.
Notice that Yosef “acquired all the
land of Egypt for Pharaoh,” excluding only the lands of the Egyptian priests. Egypt
was transformed into an...
From Friday through Tuesday, I was in Boston,
though I could have been in any large hotel anywhere in the world. I was there
as a delegate at the 20/20 Judaism conference, a collaboration between the United
Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assembly. My participation
served two purposes.
I was there to learn and bring back to Beth
Tzedec skills and best practices,...
In this week’s parashah,
we read at the beginning of chapter 24, “Abraham was old, advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed Abraham in
Commentators go in all directions with this verse.
Rashi looked to gematria and said that the word had the same numerical value as
“ben”, so he understood this verse to mean that God blessed Abraham with a
little boy or a son....
If we were only to read the Torah, without any
commentary or midrash, we would not know much about what went on in Noah’s Ark,
save a basic architectural blueprint. It was about 155 meters, or one-and-a-half
Canadian football fields long.
What did the people do all day long? What did
they think about?
What did the people do all night long? How could
they sleep in a zoo?
What did they...
has been another great week at Beth Tzedec. Yom Tov with a musically superb
Hallel and our special Hattan
and Kallah for Simhat Torah. Shemini Atzeret Yizkor
with Cantor Ezer’s special touch and Rabbi Fryer Bodzin’s poignant and powerful sermon: from now on, each of us will think of chairs in a different way. And a
spectacular cantorial concert on Thursday evening.
My husband proposed
to me on April Fools’ Day, on April 1st. Emet.
I said yes.
immediately, I called my Bubby Ethel.
As she was the
only living grandparent between the two of us, and she lived here in Toronto,
we decided to get married in Toronto.
And then she died,
two months before the wedding.
This was 12...
Mourning in our tradition is both
private and public. When we visit the
graves of our loved ones, as many of us did this past Sunday for Kever Avot, we generally do so privately. And of course, each of us come here today,
with the personal memories of family and friends whose lives have impacted
ours. Yet Yizkor is the public
observance for the community of...
Soon after returning home to Toronto this summer, people told me
that I needed to get a Mirvish subscription. While I appreciated the tip, I
have seen most of what is coming to town this year in New York on Broadway.
Before I had a child, and the cost of babysitting was added to the
cost of the evening, I saw a lot of fabulous and not-so-fabulous theatre. With
the exception of the...
Jody and I were married in 1992. We honeymooned in
Europe on our way to Israel for a year, and spent Rosh Hashanah at the Great
Synagogue in Florence. One of my most vivid memories, though, is not the
grandeur of the synagogue, nor the unique nusah,dating
back to the Spanish Expulsion of 1492. Rather, what I remember most clearly is
There were police guards with Uzi machine...
The year 5779 has just ended, but it will be
remembered for many moments and events in our personal and collective
One day, April 11, 2019, stands out as a guidepost
It started out as a regular day. I took my daughter
Ariella to school. I went in to my former shul to do some work. Then I got
in my car to drive off to two events, both of them off the Long...