Parashat Shemot, Exodus 1:1–6:1 Most of the Christian world is celebrating the birth of the Messiah this week, and in the synagogue we are reading the early chapters of Exodus, which recount the birth of another deliverer, Moses. Scholars have long noted similarities between the two birth accounts, especially in the version of Messiah’s birth… Continue reading A Deliverer is Born—in Egypt!
After President George H.W. Bush passed away on the night of November 30, one of the first of many tributes to be posted was titled, “The two-syllable word that summed up George H.W. Bush—in the best way.” That word, according to columnist David Von Drehle, is “prudence,” as in comedian Dana Carvey’s Saturday Night Live… Continue reading Prudence, Bush 41 & Abraham
When Avram heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, who had been born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night he and his servants divided his forces against them, then attacked and pursued them all the way to… Continue reading Courage: the Essential Virtue
And he stood by them under the tree and they ate. Genesis 18:8 When Hashem came to visit Abraham in Genesis 18, our patriarch saw three men and brought them food. They ate, but they turn out to be angels, and angels don’t eat, so the sages explain that they only appear to be eating.… Continue reading Virtue on Display
We’ve just come through a grueling, costly, and often bitter electoral process. We’ve chosen our leaders, or men and women that we hope will be leaders, and this week’s haftarah (Malachi 1:1 - 2:7) provides a reminder of what leaders are chosen for. It begins with a stark contrast between two ancient leaders, Esau and… Continue reading What Are Leaders For?
Parashat Vayera, Genesis 18:1–22:24 More than 70 percent of Americans identify as Christian, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to them. An overwhelming majority of people say that they don’t feel comfortable speaking about faith, most of the time. (Jonathan Merritt, “It’s Getting Harder to Talk About God” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/13/opinion/sunday/talk-god-sprituality-christian.html). How do we speak about… Continue reading Abraham’s Rules of Engagement
“Great necessities call out great virtues.” – Abigail Adams American history is one of my favorite areas of extra-biblical reading, and one of my favorite authors is Doris Kearns Goodwin. Goodwin wrote the award-winning bestseller Team of Rivals, about President Lincoln and his cabinet, as well as studies of Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon… Continue reading Is There Sense in Suffering?