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Rabbi Spitz’s Blog (Page 3)

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…

Constancy Of Character: Beha’alotkha

Dr. Abraham Twerski, a Hasidic rabbi and psychiatrist, uplifts me with memories of our times together and through his writing on both the nature of addiction and the wisdom of the Jewish tradition. Dr. Twerski’s words resonate because I identify his life’s work and personality with compassion, humility, and integrity. In his book, Living Each Week,…

May your possessions not possess you. Naso: Climate Change and Consumption

In this week’s Torah reading we are offered a three-fold, priestly blessing that begins, Yeverachecha Adonai VeYeshemerach- May God bless you and protect you (Numbers 6:24). Isaac Abravanel (15-16th century, Spain-Italy) understood this blessing as cautionary: May God give you material abundance and protect you from the possessions possessing you. We run the risk of obsessively gathering…

Awake for Shavuot: Reaching and Reenacting Revelation

Did you ever dream that after much preparation you overslept and missed a big event? Well, that nightmare occurred to the rabbis when imagining what took place at Mount Sinai. The Torah recounts thunder and shofar blasts. Rather than reading that as a dramatic display of God’s power preceding God’s revelation, some rabbis imagined all…

Divine Demands- B’Har-B’Hukkotai

Torah is a sacred text. We kiss the scroll when carried around the room to convey that it is precious. We relate to the Torah as a love letter from God and yet, for many of us the Torah is also a human document with a history. Dr. David Lieber, the chief editor of the…

Sabbatical: Context and gratitude

My friends, This week’s Torah reading describes the Sabbatical year, offering rejuvenation akin to the Sabbath day. Every seventh year,  the Bible commands, the land is to lie fallow (Leviticus 25:2-7; 26:34-35; Exodus 23:10-12). Both the farmer and the land itself would rest. In that light, this coming year is a shared opportunity for renewal…

Torah and Tidbits: Emor

Emor “If one maims his neighbor, what the perpetrator did to another must be done to him. Thus, a fracture for a fracture, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” (Leviticus 24: 19). The statement “an eye for an eye” appears clear. But, did the Torah literally demand mutilation as punishment?…

Yom HaAtzmaut Sameach- Happy 69 Israel!

Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion linked Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day, with Yom HaAtzmaut, Independence Day. Today in Israel a siren blares for a minute, as the nation literally comes to a standstill to honor those who have sacrificed for Israel to exist securely. Tonight is festivity, marking the dream fulfilled of a sovereign Jewish…

Tazria-M’tzora – The Power of Words

Words matter. Uniquely, the Torah describes God wielding words to create: “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1: 3). Words may also tear the fabric of relationship. creating distrust. In the Torah, the misuse of words prompts a public shaming by a hideous scaling of skin. M’tzora, the title of our Torah reading,…