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Rabbi Spitz’s Blog (Page 2)

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…

Word(s) Count: Va’Ethannan

Word(s) Count: Va’Ethannan Why does Moses alter God’s words? Moses prepares the children of the slaves to enter the Promised Land. He repeats the Ten Commandments, but with changes. Exodus 5:1-14 is the immediate account of Mount Sinai. Deuteronomy 5:6-18 is Moses’ retelling. The first seven verses, 103 words are identical with the exception of…

Small Groups Year 3 Launches at Kol Nidre!

Small Groups, year three. Please consider hosting or participating in a group for five weeks of conversation that will explore Love. We have already written a draft of the booklet that will offer content and context for you to meet with friends five times to further your understanding of how love informs your life. Click here for…

“Poised for Action:” Mattot-Mas’ei

This week is a double portion that concludes the book of Numbers, the fourth book of the Torah that covers thirty-eight years of travel through the desert. The people are now poised to enter the Promised Land. Mattot means tribes. Each of the twelve tribe had a distinctive identity as part of a larger collective.…

Korah: The Words Of A Demagogue – Torah And Tidbits

“Holy, Holy, Holy,” the angels chant in praise of God in the prophet Isaiah’s vision (6:3). As we echo those words in our kedushah prayer we go up on our toes signifying that God is uniquely elevated. Korach leads a rebellion against Moses, his fellow Levite. His challenge focuses on holiness: “You have gone too…

Sh’lach: “And” rather than “Or”

What went awry? Contemporary Biblical scholar, Avivah Zornberg, faults Moses’ instructions. The Israelites “broke into loud cries and wept all night” (Numbers 14:1) in response to the report of the scouts. The goal of their mission was to prepare the Israelites to fulfill a long awaited goal: taking possession of the Promised Land. Instead, the…