Shabbat Bereshit (Gen. 1:1-6:8)

Looking at it one way, Bereshit is a series of failures. After the high point of creation, it’s all downhill – from the fateful fruit of the tree to Cain’s aggression against Abel, humans really don’t have a particularly good time of it. Even the points in the narrative that aren’t downright bad, most have an element failure to them. making clothes from leaves? Not such a great plan. God asks where the... read more

#BlogElul Day 29: Return

The first 15 pages or so of the “Gates of Repentance” machzor contain quotes and ideas which form my first recollection of “the High Holy Days”. Even as a restless teen, dreading the hours of boredom ahead of me and mind already spinning elaborate plans find my way to the freedom of friends and hallways outside the sanctuary, I still took time to read through the quotes, thoughts,... read more

#BlogElul Day 28: Give

Ask any Synagogue Sunday School class what that envelope, or jar, or pushke is – the one the fill with pennies, nickels, and dimes each week – and they will all tell you: “It’s for tzedakah!”. Ask them what “tzedakah” is and you may not get as solid an answer. Here’s the thing: Tzedakah doesn’t mean “charity” …it doesn’t mean... read more

#BlogElul Day 27: Bless

What does it mean, to “bless” something? To give someone “your blessing”? Every Friday night, we “make kiddush” – we say the blessings over candles, wine, and challah. But what is that DOING? I’ve given it some thought lately, as our religious habits have changed. A few years ago, everyone would gather around the table, and we sing the blessings together.... read more

#BlogElul Day 26: Create

Hebrew has two primary words for the idea of creating: borei and asah. Asah is the more mundane form of creation, the one we use when we make a clay ashtray or birdfeeder. Borei is reserved for God. It implies that it was created out of nothing. Despite this divison, the lesson remains that creating is not solely in the providence of God. We can create, and be partners with God in the act of creation.... read more

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