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

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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 Waters Meet Their Limit

Fifth Haftarah of Comfort: Isaiah 54:1–10 For this is like the waters of Noah to Me: for as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more cover the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, nor will I rebuke you. Though the mountains depart and the hills… Continue reading The Waters Meet Their Limit

Repentance: Path to Restoration

Repentance is one of the main themes of this season, culminating in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (September 29-30 this year). It's more than a holiday theme, though; it's an essential spiritual practice, and here's a step-by-step guide. Messiah Yeshua taught, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who turns to… Continue reading Repentance: Path to Restoration

Antidote to Anxiety

Fourth Haftarah of Comfort: Isaiah 51:12–52:12 Hashem is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Hashem is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Ps. 27:1 When I was in elementary school we had random air-raid drills from time to time. We’d be in the middle of class and… Continue reading Antidote to Anxiety

Lincoln, Lee, and Those Statues

In the summer of 1869, General Robert E. Lee was invited to a meeting officers who had fought in the Battle of Gettysburg. The purpose of the meeting, as Lee described it, was “marking upon the ground by enduring memorials of granite the positions and movements of the armies on the field.” Lee declined to… Continue reading Lincoln, Lee, and Those Statues

Elul: Month of Return and Renewal

The month of Elul, which begins August 22 this year, inaugurates a 40-day period of spiritual renewal and return (Teshuvah) culminating with Yom Kippur, September 29–30. Kiddush Levana, the Blessing of the New Moon, is customarily recited on the Shabbat after the New Moon has appeared. “If possible, it should be said at the end… Continue reading Elul: Month of Return and Renewal