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Rabbi Spitz’s Blog

Torah and Tidbits: Yom Kippur

Ambassador Dennis Ross in conversation with Rabbi Spitz at CBI on Sept. 17, 2017 Dear Friends, Tomorrow we gather to mark Yom Kippur, 5778. I look forward to sharing services with you as a time for reflection, connection, and uplift.  Below are my sermons from Rosh Hashanah and an editorial by Dennis Ross, who visited…

The Head of Change

For this month’s OC Jewish Life Magazine, I reflected on technology and change at Rosh Hoshanah: (Click here to view the original article.) The Head of Change by Rabbi Elie Spitz OUR SMART PHONES are a powerful tool and distract us from the immediate moment. Whether used for good or bad, we are hooked. Consider…

HaAzinu.

Moses’ sings a swan song, which begins: “Listen heaven! I will speak, Earth! Hear the words of my mouth. My lesson shall drop like rain, my saying shall flow down like the dew, like a downpour on the herb, like a shower on the grass.” (Deuteronomy 32:1-2) A Hasidic master commented that rain is only…

Choose?! Nitzavim-Vayelekh

Do you knowingly choose your actions? Some neuroscientists have cast doubt on “free will.” Itzhak Fried, a neurosurgeon and researcher at UCLA and Tel Aviv Medical Center, used implants combined with fMRI (Functional magnetic resonance imaging) to document that there is brain activity for a second and a half before subjects make a conscious decision…

Self-Restraint: Ki Tetzei

Titilation was my initial reaction as a twelve-year old reading this week’s Torah selection, which begins: “When a man goes out to war and sees a beautiful captive and he craves her…” (Deuteronomy  21:10). And yet, the Torah reading responds with rules of restraint: You, the soldier, need to give a captive woman thirty days…

Preparing for a New Year: Shoftim

Preparing for the New Year. This morning is Rosh Hodesh Elul, the beginning of the month before Rosh HaShanah. As is the custom, I recited Psalm 27 and blew shofar at the end of my morning prayers. The shofar blasts lacked precision. Eleven months have passed since I took the ram’s horn to my lips. I hope…

What would Elie Wiesel say now?

What would Elie Wiesel say now? I miss the clarion voice of our great survivor who repeatedly addressed hate. Charlottesville’s “Unite the Right” rally began on Friday night as a mob surged through the campus of the University of Virginia carrying tiki torches, many chanting words freighted by the past, including “Blood and soil…Jews will…

More Than Bread: Ekev

More than bread: Ekev “A person does not live by bread alone” (Deuteronomy 8:3). What does this mean? In the immediate context of our Torah reading, the verse emphasizes that the Israelites have survived due to manna- God’s daily provision- and that they will need more than physical nourishment in the Promised Land. They will…