Ki Tavo: Breathing Through Struggle

The name of this week’s parsha, or Torah portion, is Ki Tavo, which means “when you enter.” In this parsha, Moses lays out for the Jewish people the rituals they should observe when they enter the Promised Land. The various rituals all have a common theme: honoring the history of the Jewish people, and all that G-d […]

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Parsha Chukat: Breathing Through Our Patterns

This week’s parsha, or weekly Torah portion, is Chukat, which can be roughly translated as “decree.” In this parsha, the Israelites are still wandering through the desert when the sister of Aaron and Moses, Miriam, suddenly passes away. In the waterless desert in the aftermath of Miriam’s death, the Israelites struggle to survive, and G-d instructs […]

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Shelach Lechah: Taking a Break to Breathe

This week’s Torah portion, or parsha, is called “Shelach Lechah,” meaning “send for yourself.” The Torah had just been given to the Israelites at the foot of Mt. Sinai as a gift from G-d on the high holy day of Shavuot. They now want to claim their Promised Land, so Moses sends twelve “spies” to […]

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Balak: Seeing Things More Clearly

This week’s parsha, or Torah portion, comes from the book of Numbers and is called Balak, so named for the king of Moab who features prominently in this particular story. The Israelites had settled in Moab and Balak, intimidated and disgusted by their numbers, sent for the prophet Balaam to come to Moab and curse the Jews. […]

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Shelach: Finding Our Inner Promised Land

In this week’s parsha (Torah portion), Moshe decides to allow a reconnaissance mission with a team of scouts, one person from each tribe, to scope out the Promised Land while the rest of the Jewish people stay in the desert. It says, “You shall see what [kind of] land it is, and the people who […]

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Beh’alotcha: Birthright Or Human Right?

Beha’alotcha, Hebrew for “When You Step Up”, is the third parsha, Torah portion, in the Book of Numbers. The parsha opens in the midst of a long list of instructions from G-d about the upkeep of the tabernacle; specifically, the special role of the Levites as servants of the high priest. Then it abruptly turns to […]

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Parsha Va’eira: On Using Our Breath and Opening Our Ears.

Va’eira, meaning “and I appeared”, recounts Moses’ conscription to be the leader of the Israelites and the first seven of the ten plagues inflicted on Egypt in response to Pharaoh’s refusal to free the enslaved Hebrews or even allow them the freedom to worship. The parsha is ominous and frustrating: it catalogues the obstinance of […]

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Parsha Shemot: Removing our Shoes

The continued relevance of G-d’s one-liners never cease to impress me, and this week’s parsha (torah portion), Shemot (“names”), is no exception. Shemot tells the story typically spoken of during Passover. The Egyptians have enslaved the people of Israel, and Pharaoh has commanded the midwives to put newborn baby boys to death in the Nile […]

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Thanksgiving Meditation

There is a built-in sense of indebtedness in the consciousness of man, an awareness of owing gratitude, or being called upon at certain moments to reciprocate, to answer, to live in a way which is compatible with the grandeur and mystery of living.  – Abraham Joshua Heschel One of the reasons I love holidays is […]

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Parshat Eikev: On Metaphorical Consequence

Parshat Eikev is a fundamental parsha [Torah portion], as it sets out the basis for what binds our people together. The foundations of our practice begin with the Shema, “Hear O Israel, the Eternal is our G-d, the Eternal is One”. The full Shema is more than those six words. The opening declaration is followed […]

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