Ritual Slaughter, Sacrifice, and Terror in New Zealand – Parshat Vayikra 2019

My family has an interesting מנהג. It is a tradition in our family to avoid becoming or marrying anyone who works with blood, whether a surgeon or שוחט, a person who does ritual slaughter for kosher meat. I assume this tradition has to do with the fear that people who are willing to slaughter animals have … Continue reading Ritual Slaughter, Sacrifice, and Terror in New Zealand – Parshat Vayikra 2019

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The Exodus, The Temple, and Anti-Semitism – Parshat Pekudei 2019

One Shabbat morning at an old shul in Manhattan, the בעל קריאה was about to finish reading ספר שמות and lein the seventh עליה when the rabbi banged on the בימה and announced for everyone to stand up. The גבאי, upset about what he thought was breaking the tradition of the shul, announced that the practice … Continue reading The Exodus, The Temple, and Anti-Semitism – Parshat Pekudei 2019

A Tale of Two Sanctuaries – Parshat Vayakhel 2019

Two astronauts landed on Mars, the first time humans had ever set foot on a planet other than Earth. Previous NASA missions had made it clear that there was not nearly enough oxygen on Mars for life to survive. Nonetheless, the astronauts decided they want to test it out for themselves. “Give me the box of matches,” … Continue reading A Tale of Two Sanctuaries – Parshat Vayakhel 2019

Taking Responsibility for Communal Sin – Parshat Ki Tisa 2019

When it comes to the 1956 film epic, The Ten Commandments, its most epic moment, may be at its ending. Unlike The Prince of Egypt, The Ten Commandments does not shy away from depicting Israel’s sudden fall from grace at Mt. Sinai. In the film’s unflinchingly critical depiction of פרשת כי תשא, we watch as the people … Continue reading Taking Responsibility for Communal Sin – Parshat Ki Tisa 2019

Sometimes a Tzaddik – Parshat Terumah 2019

In the early 17th century, there was a very wealthy man who lived in the Jewish quarter of the Polish city of Krakow. His name was Yossele but he was labeled by his fellow townspeople as Yossele that Miser. Despite his vast riches, Yossele never appeared to be willing to part with his money and donate to … Continue reading Sometimes a Tzaddik – Parshat Terumah 2019

Frank Pentangeli, Internet Ethics, and Truth – Parshat Yitro 2019

In 1974, Francis Ford Coppola directed and produced an award-winning sequel to his most famous film, The Godfather. In one of The Godfather II’s most dramatic moments, Frank Pentangeli, a former high-ranking member of the Corleone crime family, is subpoenaed to appear before a committee of the U.S. Senate. He is expected to testify in … Continue reading Frank Pentangeli, Internet Ethics, and Truth – Parshat Yitro 2019

Rav Goren and Rav Medan on Valuing Every Human Being – Parshat Beshalach 2019

I don’t know how many of you watch The Late Late Show with James Corden on CBS. To be honest, I almost never do. But I recently saw a clip of the show from 2017 in which the host and pop musician Harry Styles act out scenes in which they sing at wildly inappropriate times. As doctors … Continue reading Rav Goren and Rav Medan on Valuing Every Human Being – Parshat Beshalach 2019