Parashat Ha’azinu

September 18, 2023

Rabbi Matthew Goldstone

As we move from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, this week we read Parashat Ha’azinu, Moses’ farewell song. There are many fruitful portions of the parashah upon which to focus, but my attention immediately gravitates to the phrase וַיִּשְׁמַן יְשֻׁרוּן וַיִּבְעָט (“and Yeshurun grew fat and kicked”; Deut. 32:15).

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Parashat Ki Tavo – 5783

August 28, 2023

Rabbi Ira J. Dounn (’17)

A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of talking with someone interested in converting to Judaism. Since the pandemic, I have noticed an uptick in people interested in converting with me. In the conversation, I asked them more about themselves, their story, and their interest in casting their lot with the Jewish people. And although I’ve heard several answers now to this question of “Why do you want to convert?”, I had never heard this one before.

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Parashat Ki Teitzei – 5783

August 22, 2023

Rabbi Katy Allen ('05)

I recently visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and managed to have timed my visit to be able to view the exhibit “Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina”. It was beautiful, and it was painful. Beautiful, because the pottery was subtly exquisite. Painful, because each piece was made by an enslaved human being, subjected to horrors we cannot begin to imagine. In the South in the mid-1800s, the phrase “buy local” had a whole different connotation. “Buy local” meant support the slave industry with your economic decisions. Don’t buy from the North – goods made by free people. The paradoxical mix of beauty and pain found in the Old Edgefield pottery is not so uncommon. We find it frequently in the Torah. The beauty is in the fact that the words are part of our ancient and sacred tradition. The pain is in...

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Parashat Shoftim 5783

August 14, 2023

Rabbi Rob Scheinberg

When I officiate at a wedding, I typically encourage the parents to bestow blessings upon their children. In addition to the Priestly Blessing, often the parents read a blessing in English that I provide to them, including the lines: “When you speak with your beloved, may you always know the joy of companionship. When you see each other, may your eyes be filled with wonder at the miracle of your love. When you disagree, may you always think of compromise.” I began to be curious about the etymology of the word “compromise,” noting that it has the word “promise” in it, and I wondered if it originally meant something like “promise together.”  I looked it up and discovered that the original meaning of the word “compromise” is a promise that is made by two disputants, at the same time, that they will abide by the decision of someone else who is acting as the arbiter...

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