וְיֵעָשׂוּ כֻלָּם אֲגֻדָּה אֶחָת לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ בְּלֵבָב שָׁלֵם

All shall unite to do God's will with an open heart.

וְיֵעָשׂוּ כֻלָּם אֲגֻדָּה אֶחָת לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ בְּלֵבָב שָׁלֵם

All shall unite to do God's will with an open heart.

10 04, 2023

Parashat Shemini 5783

By |2023-05-03T12:07:52-04:00April 10, 2023|

The Bitter and the Sweet
A D’var Torah for Parashat Shemini
By Rabbi Greg Schindler (’09)

Most of us are familiar with the concept of a hyperlink. Case in point: hyperlink. When you click on a hyperlink, you begin a journey connecting the idea on the page to a related concept. Quite the innovation, right?

Yes, indeed. The hyperlinks embedded in the Torah were quite the innovation.

Wait, what? The Torah?

In Jewish tradition, a hyperlink is called a gezerah shaveh – where the same words are used in two different cases in order to shed light upon each case. In this way, the Torah comments upon itself.  For example, in Num. 28:2 we read that the daily burnt offering is to be brought “בְּמוֹעֲדוֹ ” (bimoado) – “at its appointed time”, meaning even on Shabbat. In Num. 9:2, we similarly read that the Passover offering is to be brought “בְּמוֹעֲדוֹ” (bimoado). From this, the rabbis determined that, just as the Read More >

13 03, 2023

Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pekudei 5783

By |2023-05-03T12:08:59-04:00March 13, 2023|

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Where do we face in our holy space?
A D’var Torah for Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pekudei
By Rabbi Rob Scheinberg

“Once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?” — Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Alice might have approved of the Talmud, which has conversations among the sages on every page. But she might have been disappointed that there are not very many pictures. There is, however, an evocative picture inspired by a verse from this week’s Torah portion, found in printed editions of the Babylonian Talmud in Rashbam’s commentary to Tractate Bava Batra 99a, that carries some relevance for us as we Read More >

7 03, 2023

Parashat Ki Tissa 5783

By |2023-05-03T12:09:07-04:00March 7, 2023|

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The Golden Calf: Not a Tantrum, but a Meltdown
A D’var Torah for Parashat Ki Tissa and Shabbat Parah
By Rabbi Katy Allen (’05)

Perhaps the golden calf was inevitable,
and perhaps
even necessary.
Egel ha’masekhah, the molten calf (Ex. 32:4),
the meltdown–
the internal or external loss of control
stemming from demands
or overwhelming emotions.
Not a tantrum.

Not a tantrum
but the breaking down
that leads to breaking open.

G!d demanded so much,
and all at once
and in no uncertain terms.
Moses seemingly disappeared
just when everyone’s lives
were being overwhelmingly disrupted
changed irrevocably.

Has it ever happened to you?

Hamasekhah hanesukhah
the veil that is spread over all the nations (Is. 25:7)
the veil of mourning that covers us all (BDB)
G!d will remove it,
and will “wipe away the tears” (Is. 25:8)
from all our faces.

But first, Read More >

27 02, 2023

Parashat Tetzaveh 5783

By |2023-05-03T12:09:17-04:00February 27, 2023|

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Remembering and Turning Things Upside-Down: Shabbat Zakhor and Purim
A D’var Torah for Parashat Tetzaveh, Shabbat Zakhor, and Purim
By Rabbi Rena Kieval (’06)                         

“There is a certain people, scattered and separate from the peoples in all the provinces of your realm, and their rules are different from those of any other people… It is not in your Majesty’s interest to tolerate them. If it please your Majesty, let an edict be drawn for their destruction…” (Esther 3: 8,9)

Every Purim, these words of Haman in Megillat Esther send chills down my spine. The words are ancient, yet they are all too familiar. We recognize the anti-Jewish tropes, the intolerance of anyone who is seen as ‘other’ or different, and the quintessential hate speech that is gaining more open Read More >

20 02, 2023

Parashat Terumah 5783

By |2023-05-03T12:09:26-04:00February 20, 2023|

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The Impermanence of the Natural world and the Eternity of God’s Presence
A D’var Torah for Parashat Terumah
By Rabbi Mitchell Blank (’21)

As I write these words, the death toll has risen to over 36,000 and tens of thousands more have been injured, let alone the untold number who have become homeless and penniless. Life on earth is truly fragile and it’s sad that only violent tragedies such as the recent earthquake centered in Turkey and Syria seem to be able to wake us up to the reality of the impermanence of it all. In these moments, we cry out to God: Where are you?! Yet, we know that this apparent absence of the Divine is beyond our comprehension. In better times, we can occasionally feel God’s presence. We acknowledge this natural oscillation in our understanding of God in the Kedushah for Musaf: “God’s glory fills the universe” but Read More >

13 02, 2023

Parashat Mishpatim 5783

By |2023-05-03T12:09:35-04:00February 13, 2023|

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Yearning for Divine Intimacy, and the Call of Ordinary Life
A D’var Torah for Parashat Mishpatim
By Dr. Yakir Englander

The weekly Torah portion – Parashat Mishpatim – opens with a long list of laws governing daily life. On the face of it, there is no hint of the previous portion’s numinous encounter between the People of Israel and the Divine at Mount Sinai. The dark cloud and the thunderous voices are gone, and instead we find Israel saddled with a tedious inventory of colorless rules.

And yet, as this portion unfolds, we learn of more intimate divine/human encounters – described now with a kind of holy pathos. The people respond, to each of the divine injunctions, na’aseh ve-nishma’ – “We will do, and we will hear!” Moses and Aaron, with the latter’s two sons and also seventy elders representing Read More >

6 02, 2023

Parashat Yitro 5783

By |2023-05-03T12:09:44-04:00February 6, 2023|

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A D’var Torah for Parashat Yitro
By Rabbi Greg Schindler (’09)


“She generally gave herself very good advice (although she very seldom followed it)”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

How good are you at taking advice?

I know that I could use a lot of work in this department, especially when it comes to unsolicited advice. If someone starts a sentence with, “I think you should”, I often nod my head appreciatively… and tune out.

This seems to be a part of human nature. According to research, people generally start out with a personal bias towards their own opinions, and discount the advice of others.

Most of us feel like the Duchess in Alice: “If everybody minded their own business ..the world would go round a deal faster than it does.”

Perhaps to counteract this bias, our tradition is replete with advice about Read More >

1 02, 2023

Parashat Beshalah 5783

By |2023-05-03T12:09:52-04:00February 1, 2023|

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Fear of Freedom?
A D’var Torah for Parashat Beshalah
By Rabbi Steven Altarescu (’14)The most powerful metaphor in Jewish thought is the exodus from Egypt. The story of the exodus has been read as a model of people seeking freedom in every historical period, as a symbol of rebirth and renewal, as freeing oneself from psychological and emotional conscription.

The visual image of the sea parting, leaving dry land for the Israelites to march through but then closing up and drowning the Egyptians who pursued them, is stirring. The song the Israelites sung when they witnessed the power of God to open the sea for them but close it on the Egyptians is sung every morning as part of the shaharit service.

In the Torah the song of the sea is Read More >

24 01, 2023

Parashat Bo 5783

By |2023-05-03T12:10:00-04:00January 24, 2023|

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Moses Gone Rogue
A D’var Torah for Parashat Bo
By Cantor Robin Anne Joseph (’96)

In this week’s Torah portion, Bo, Moses goes rogue.

True, he has already been known to have “acted out,” shall we say. There was the incident of Moses killing an Egyptian taskmaster upon seeing him beating a Hebrew slave, so we know Moses has a temper, but that was before Moses was under the tutelage of ‘ה. Doesn’t Moses now have an obligation to adhere to the directives of this Higher Power?

It seems to start out that way. ‘ה has given Moses the task of administering the plagues and Moses has been faithfully carrying out that task. Up to this point, between the efforts of ‘ה, and Aaron and Moses as directed by ‘ה, the plagues seem Read More >

16 01, 2023

Parashat Vaeira 5783

By |2023-05-03T12:10:08-04:00January 16, 2023|

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah

The Presence and Absence of Names
A D’var Torah for Parashat Vaeira
By Rabbi Robert Scheinberg

Last week’s Torah portion, the first Torah person of the Book of Exodus, is called “Shemot,” which means “names.” And in fact, the Torah portion begins with the names of the sons of Jacob who descended to Egypt and had become the ancestors of the Tribes of Israel. But in a Torah portion which is called “Shemot,” there are relatively few personalities in last week’s Torah portion whose names are listed.

For example, the birth and very early life of the most significant person in the entire Torah are described as follows in last week’s Torah portion: (Exodus 2) “A man from the house of Levi married a woman who was a daughter of Levi. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw how beautiful he was, she hid Read More >

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