Miriam, Moshe, and Residual Trauma – Parshat Beha’alotecha 2021

As a child, I was absolutely certain and never doubted that Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother Bear, and Sister Bear, characters in a classic children's book series I loved as a young child, were Jewish. How could they be non-Jews with a last name like Berenstein? Moreover, in the books, the mother always dresses so … Continue reading Miriam, Moshe, and Residual Trauma – Parshat Beha’alotecha 2021

A Blessing ‘with’ G-d – Parshat Naso 2021

It is common in the Jewish community, especially in the Orthodox world, to ask prominent rabbis for דברי ברכה, words of blessing, based on the assumption that the words of holy people are more likely to be fulfilled by G-d. In some Chassidic communities, people may line up every day to receive a blessing and/or … Continue reading A Blessing ‘with’ G-d – Parshat Naso 2021

Ruth the Moabite, Ruth the Caregiver – Shavuot 2021

In September of last year, when the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish community poured out their grief at the news with efforts to highlight the role of her Jewish background in her life and career. Many pointed to the plaque in her office citing the verse … Continue reading Ruth the Moabite, Ruth the Caregiver – Shavuot 2021

Signs of Love and Aspiration – Parshat Bamidbar 2021

I'm worried that I'm going to get in trouble for referencing yet another superhero TV show just weeks after the last time. Nonetheless, I will briefly talk about the Flag-Smashers, the Marvel villains from the program The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Without getting into too many details, the Flag-Smashers are an extremist anarchist group … Continue reading Signs of Love and Aspiration – Parshat Bamidbar 2021

Shemittah and the Pursuit of Property – Parshat Behar-Bechukotai 2021

One of the most well-known written phrases in American history is the claim by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal" and "that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is hard to know … Continue reading Shemittah and the Pursuit of Property – Parshat Behar-Bechukotai 2021

Aharon’s Sons, Grief, and WandaVision – Parshat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 2021

I have had the benefit of knowing Rabbi Shmuel Hain for many years, now. He was the camp rabbi head of the Beit Midrash at Camp Morasha when I was a counselor there and the Rosh Beit Midrash at SAR High School in Riverdale, NY when I was a Beit Midrash Fellow at SAR about … Continue reading Aharon’s Sons, Grief, and WandaVision – Parshat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 2021

Calling Out Ourselves – Parshat Tazria-Metzora 2021

The pandemic has changed our perception of our own society in numerous ways. For example, it has made the public much more aware of the daily indignities suffered by segments of the community that may not have been well-known before. Besides the ongoing disproportionate suffering by Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color, the … Continue reading Calling Out Ourselves – Parshat Tazria-Metzora 2021

Meat, Mourning, and Humanity – Parshat Shemini 2021

It is relatively well-known in our community that, according to Jewish law, there is a prohibition against eating meat or drinking wine during the nine days leading up to Tisha B'Av, on which we mourn the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem. It is less well-known that a prohibition against meat and wine applies … Continue reading Meat, Mourning, and Humanity – Parshat Shemini 2021

Sacrificial Ashes, Pesach, and Spiritual Cleaning – Parshat Tzav/Shabbat Hagadol 2021

It is rare that a film or book will lift up a character who cleans buildings or homes for a living as the hero of the story. Even on the rare occasion when a maintenance worker or domestic worker is a main character, the profession of cleaning is usually not shown to be something honorable, … Continue reading Sacrificial Ashes, Pesach, and Spiritual Cleaning – Parshat Tzav/Shabbat Hagadol 2021