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

Comfort for a Traumatized Age

Second Haftarah of Comfort: Isaiah 49:14-51:3 The seven weeks of comfort or consolation following Tisha b’Av are especially relevant to the traumatized age in which we live. Like the Jewish generations that witnessed or lived shortly after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple on Tisha b’Av, we live in the shadow of unspeakable loss in… Continue reading Comfort for a Traumatized Age

Shabbat Shuvah 5777

In recent years I’ve often taught on Teshuvah, or Repentance, as a four-step process, which can be traced throughout Scripture. It's clearly pictured in Messiah Yeshua’s story of the Prodigal Son, the iconic picture of teshuvah in the Gospels. This year I’m working through an excellent book, Repentance: The Meaning and Practice of Teshuvah, by… Continue reading Shabbat Shuvah 5777

Teshuvah Translated

Last Saturday night I attended a community-wide Selichot service here in Albuquerque. The service itself was to include a talk on teshuvah (return or repentance) by Dr. Louis Newman. Since this was a nice Jewish event, we started out with some nice eating before it began, and Dr. Newman himself sat down at our table… Continue reading Teshuvah Translated

Day Six, Hour 11.5

Rosh Hashana is one of our most significant Jewish holidays, but the Torah doesn’t say much about it. It’s only mentioned twice, and briefly at that: And Hashem spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day… Continue reading Day Six, Hour 11.5

Unprepared and Ready

Not long before my old friend Rube (Rabbi Richard Rubinstein, that is) passed away, I had the privilege of visiting him at his home in Sacramento. He was already in bad shape from the cancer that eventually killed him, but his spirits were remarkably fine, so when he happened to recommend a book to me,… Continue reading Unprepared and Ready

The Silence of Abraham

I wrote this commentary the day before 9/11/2001 and it seemed particularly relevant in the days that followed. I reposted it on this blog site a few years ago, and it still seems current to me, as we approach Rosh Hashanah 2016.  During the time of self-examination and spiritual preparation leading up to the Days… Continue reading The Silence of Abraham