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Editorial & Opinion | Musings

07/08/2015 | | Special to the Jewish Week | Musings

We gather around the Shabbat table, put our arms around one other and sing “Shalom Aleichem” — the song that greets the Shabbat angels. By the time we have finished the Shabbat song, three minutes later, we are concluding with “Tzaitchem L’shalom” — go in peace, already asking them to leave. The poor angels must wonder why we do not wish them to stick around!

07/01/2015 | | Special to The Jewish Week | Musings

On July 4, we should once again recall our extraordinary good fortune.  For almost 20 years I have met once a week with Kirk Douglas to study Torah.  He is now 98 years old.  I once asked him in his remarkable life, what was his greatest blessing?  “No doubt about it,” he answered, “my greatest blessing is that my parents came to America.”

06/24/2015 | | Special to the Jewish Week | Musings

Why do the five books of the Torah end with Israel still in the wilderness? The entire story points toward the Promised Land, yet Moses dies and the Israelites are outside the land.

One possibility is the Torah’s lesson that the land is both a reality and an ideal. In the book of Joshua, the Israelites enter the land and have to fight to establish themselves. In the wilderness, they will dream of the land and envision an ideal.

06/17/2015 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

Judaism has never been a system of belief alone. Judaism is enacted faith.

Immediately following the declaration “Shema,” we read about the ways that declaration is carried into the world: teaching children, mezuzah, tzitzit. When a child reaches maturity we do not say he or she has reached the age of belief, but rather the age of action, a son or daughter of mitzvah. To be a mature Jew is to be an acting Jew.

06/10/2015 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

The Greek hero Prometheus steals fire from the gods, for which he is chained to a rock and tortured endlessly. In Jewish lore, on the other hand, Adam is afraid when the first night arrives and God instructs him on how to create a fire. When the blaze ignites, Adam says gratefully, “Blessed be the creator of fire.”

06/03/2015 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

It is remarkable how many turning points in Torah are about events in a family. Not only Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel, but Abraham and Sarah emigrating and Jacob and Esau fighting and Joseph struggling with his brothers. Also, the fidelity of Ruth to Naomi and Esther to Mordecai and Absalom’s betrayal of his father David and Solomon’s succession, and on and on.