Rabbi Daniel Grossman's blog

At Seder, Celebrating 'Freedom To' Participate And 'Freedom From' Oppression

This week, as many of us sat down to enjoy our Seders with friends and family, I was very aware of two types of freedom that we celebrate at the Seder: “freedom from” and “freedom to.” We celebrate the “freedom from” slavery and oppression. We re-enact this form of freedom as we eat bitter herbs and dip our greens into salt water. We celebrate the “freedom to” as we conduct our own Seder experience. Each home leads its own Seder without benefit of Rabbi or Hazzan. Each person, young or old, has a part to fulfill at the table. 

Rabbi Daniel Grossman

Wear A Mask For Merriment, Never Because Of Embarrassment!

Purim is fun, and food, and noise, but there is also a serious side to Purim. Before Esther reveals her Jewish identity to the king, she hides behind a mask of anonymity, one of many in the harem. Only after she speaks as Esther, the Jew, does she speak honestly, with her own voice. Her power comes from the honesty in her own voice and not behind her mask.

Many of us, especially in the special needs world, learn to live behind masks.

Rabbi Daniel Grossman

Shemot: A Name Carries Pride Of Self, But A Label Is Imposed

The middle book of the Torah is called Exodus in English and Shemot (Names) in Hebrew.  Names play a crucial role in Torah language and thought.  When God gives Adam responsibility for keeping the earth safe, Adam’s first responsibility is to name the creatures of the world, and in that way, connect with them. Know their names and not their skills.

Jacob's Blessing: Understanding Children's Limitations, And Potential

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayehi, Jacob speaks to each of his children, honestly and directly. Jacob’s blessings look at the events of his son’s pasts, and his evaluation of their individual futures. This Torah portion began the tradition of Ethical Wills. Ethical Wills focus on the legacy of values we leave to our children and not a legacy of material goods.

Rabbi Daniel Grossman

Korach's Call For Sameness Diminishes The Equality Of Difference

This week’s parasha focuses on the rebellion of Korach. Korach’s attempt to take power from Moses rests on what at first appears to be an appeal to equality and democracy. “All the community is holy, all of them, and the Lord is in their midst.  Why then do you raise yourself above the Lord’s congregation?”

Rabbi Daniel Grossman

This Week's Torah: Moses Taught the Priests One Way, The People Another

In this week's Torah portion, Emor, we find this sentence in the very beginning: 

“And the Lord spoke to Moses:  Speak to the priest, the sons of Aaron and speak to them . . .” (Leviticus 21:1)

Even God, even at Sinai, spoke differently to the priests and to the people. Fotolia

In One Deaf Child, All Of The Hagaddah's Four Children

As families gather around the Seder table, they encounter the four children. Some take the position that the four children really represent different aspects of each individual person. I would like to share a story with you that examines the question:  Can our presence at the Seder bring order to our lives and allow the different aspects of who we are to integrate as one person?

Rabbi Daniel Grossman

Where Moses Failed: A Drash On Disability

Two weeks ago, we read the portion Zahor, in which we remember what Amalek did to us, attacking the weakest elements of our people when they were most vulnerable. This past week, we read the portion Ki Tissa, and how the shattered tablets of the Ten Commandments were not discarded or buried. Rather, they were placed with respect into the Ark, alongside the new set of Tablets. What is the connection?

Rabbi Daniel Grossman
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