Favor Elevates Its Giver

Parashat VaYishlach, Gen 32:4–36:43 When someone asks us, “Will you do me a favor?” we’re likely to ask what they have in mind before we say yes or no. Why? Because a favor by definition is something undeserved, something that might go beyond the ordinary, and we want to know what it is before we… Continue reading Favor Elevates Its Giver

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The Lonely Place of Connection

 Parashat VaYetse, Genesis 28:10-32:3   It’s a paradox: To find community, I have to find my individual self. Or turn that around: As I find myself in God, I find that I’m part of something much bigger than myself. Our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all encounter moments of intense solitude on their way to… Continue reading The Lonely Place of Connection

Lekh L’kha—The Essential Journey

Parashat Lekh L’kha, Genesis 12:1–17:27 Abraham’s lifelong conversation with Hashem begins with a simple two-word phrase: “Lekh l’kha—get going!” (Gen 12:1). Before the Lord reveals anything about his character, purpose, and plans to Avraham, he sends him on a journey. My translation of Lekh l’kha here might differ from the one in your Bible. It’s… Continue reading Lekh L’kha—The Essential Journey

Rosh Hashanah and the Empty Water-skin

The Akeidah, the story of the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22, is one of the highlights of our observance of Rosh Hashanah. It’s such a rich and compelling story, in fact, that we often forget that it's preceded by the parallel story of the sending away of Ishmael in Genesis 21. The sages portray… Continue reading Rosh Hashanah and the Empty Water-skin

God in Exile

Seventh Haftarah of Comfort, Isaiah 61:10–63:9 At the great turning-point of Moses’ life—which was also a great turning point for the entire nation of Israel languishing in Egyptian captivity—God chose to speak to Moses from out of a thorn-bush of all places. Why not from the wide blue sky, or the starry heavens at night,… Continue reading God in Exile

The All-Israel Alignment

Sixth Haftarah of Comfort, Isaiah 60:1-22 All Israel will be saved. Romans 11:26 Isaiah has provided many images and metaphors of Israel’s restoration throughout the Haftarot of Comfort—return from exile, flowering of the Land of Israel, rebuilding of her cities, tribute and honor coming from the surrounding nations. Now, toward the end of these readings,… Continue reading The All-Israel Alignment