Rabbi Michael Levy's blog

The “Ordinary Man” From The Tribe Of Dan: Inspired By Torah Portion Pinchas

Part One

Time:  About 2245 on the Jewish calendar (3500 years ago.)
Place:  Hebron, Israel

Poor Dan!

Eleven of Jacob’s twelve sons had two or more children.  Benjamin had ten!

The twelfth son, Dan, had one son, Chushim, who was deaf.  Like many parents today, Dan might have worried, “What will be the future of my disabled child?”
 
The phrase “special needs child” hadn’t been invented yet.  On his own, Chushim, trying to be ordinary, would communicate “What’s going on?” when he didn’t understand a situation.

Rabbi Michael Levy

The Truths My Father Taught Me--A Father's Day Tribute (Part 2)

Editor's Note: In honor of Father's day, Rabbi Michael Levy shares this loving tribute to his father. Click here to read Part 1, which ends with a doctor's discovery of a spot on his father's lung.

My parents tried to cover up this health crisis like all the medical problems of the past.  This was especially so because my wife Chavi and I were expecting.

In September, all four of our parents helped with our "big Sunday." We moved and arranged furniture from morning until evening.  The file cabinet made its way from the "second bedroom" into ours. A bed disappeared downstairs into the storage area. 

A big empty space appeared along one wall of the second bedroom, waiting for a crib. I didn't see my mother's tears when my mother-in-law caught her off guard with the question "How's Aaron?"

I learned about the spot on Dad’s lung only as they were preparing him for the operation. The bicycle ride of so many years ago came to mind. The collision had happened. 

Rabbi Michael Levy

The Truths My Father Taught Me--A Father's Day Tribute (Part 1)

Editor's Note: In honor of Father's day, Rabbi Michael Levy shares his moving tribute to his father. Part two will be posted on Sunday.

"Look, a two-headed bike!" said a kid passing by. This confirmed for me that Dad and I, on our tandem bicycle, were invincible.

Riding on the two-seated bicycle with Dad, I didn't think about being blind. I did what everybody else did on the back seat of a tandem, no steering, just pedaling.

Doing what everybody else did. That’s the kind of childhood my parents gave me. If you feel included and valued by your family, then no future obstacles in your path will deter you.

Preparing For Shavuot: Reliving The Sinai Experience

We could celebrate Shavuot as we just celebrated Memorial Day: with ceremonies, a day off from work and a festive meal.   Our tradition urges us to celebrate Shavuot in a more spiritual manner, by recreating the experience of standing at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah.

Rabbi Michael Levy

Passover’s Call to Action—Escape from the Slavery of Self-Imposed Limitations

At the Passover Seder, we recall the Israelites’ redemption from Egyptian slavery.  It is an appropriate time to examine the link between Egyptian slavery and beliefs that can keep us in bondage.

The “Egypt Within”

The Hebrew word for Egypt, “Mitzrayim,” closely resembles the Hebrew word “maytzarim,”—boundaries, constraints, narrow and confining spaces. None of us is physically enslaved, but some of us experience “the Egypt within,” believing that we are trapped by our disability, confined to “narrow spaces,” from which we cannot escape to live fulfilling lives. 

Rabbi Michael Levy

Behind The Mask -- God's Presence

During the merry celebration of Purim this upcoming Saturday night and Sunday, children and even adults will wear masks and costumes.  Masks echo the theme of concealment in the Purim story itself, which we will read in the Scroll of Esther.

Rabbi Michael Levy

Ki Tissa: Awareness Is Necessary, Not Sufficient

God’s initial revelation to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, when He uttered the Ten Commandments, was accompanied by lightning, thunder and shofar blasts that inspired the soul. The inspiration lasted just forty days.

Rabbi Michael Levy

Mishpatim: Empathy Is A Gift Anyone Can Give

“Right is might” civilizations mistreat vulnerable people—slaves, strangers, widows, orphans and the poor. This week’s Torah portion obligates us to see to the material well-being of these disadvantaged groups. Equally important is the support we provide through empathy.

Rabbi Michael Levy

Yitro: Moses Shows Us How To Celebrate

After the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and emerged victorious in the war against Amalek, Moses’ father-in-law Jethro joined them in the wilderness. Our Torah portion recounts how he was welcomed by the congregation:

“Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God.” (Exodus 18, 12.) The commentator Rashi wonders “Where was Moses?” He concludes that Moses was occupied himself with serving the meal (rather than eating with Aaron, Jethro and the elders.) One can imagine that Moses also saw to the preparation of the meal.

Rabbi Michael Levy

Beshalach: The Gift Of Healing

When we are ill, we consult a doctor, obtain a diagnosis and adhere to his/her treatment plan. How, then, are we to understand a passage from this week’s Torah portion that portrays God as a Healer? 

Rabbi Michael Levy
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