Author Archives: Rabbi Steven G. Sager

Faithfully Practicing Resurrection

The bedtime stories my father told me in our cramped apartment in the gritty Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn sketched a magical, mythical place… [even] the darker stories about hiding from the Cossacks among the tombstones… I needed to get to … Continue reading

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Gratitude Beyond Measure

These things have no fixed measure: the corner of the field, the first fruit offering, the pilgrim’s offering, acts of generosity, and Torah study. Rooted in the life of an agricultural community, the Mishnah extols life grounded in the soil—in … Continue reading

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We Are The Text

Since ancient times, a ritually prescribed Torah reading—a parasha— has been known by a title taken from the prescribed opening biblical verse. In addition to its conventional designation, some sages have given us the precedent of calling a parasha by … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Parshat HaShavuah, Torah | 7 Comments

Truth Will Spring Up

The first few weeks in quarantine were not too difficult. For one thing, we had just returned from Israel and we were tired—and frightened. For another thing, the world seemed painted in pandemic colors and moods: grey and foreboding. But … Continue reading

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Everything Will Not Be Alright

This is how you shall eat your Passover offering: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it b’hippazon (Exodus 12:11)—in hurried, harried, anxious haste. Everything will not be alright … Continue reading

Posted in Holidays, Passover, Poetry, Torah | 1 Comment

On That Day

“Living with halacha is risky—living without halacha is impossible,” said David Hartman. On that day, in the bet midrash our teacher was probing a core Talmud text of the Hartman canon, “The Oven of Achnai,” a story that underscores Rabbi Hartman’s style, … Continue reading

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The Nature Of Teshuvah

An early rabbinic teaching concerns our place in the world’s time: How should we count the years and account for the crops tithed to the Temple? Each season would begin on the first day of the well-chosen month, except for … Continue reading

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“I” Witness – The Song At The Sea

A fierce wind plowed the sea, piling a wall of water to either side of a seabed blown dry. Miraculously, there was stable footing for weary slaves—notwithstanding the wind that the sea itself could not withstand. Wind, walls of water, … Continue reading

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Slowly, And In Our Days

In a fiery chariot that rose towards heaven, Elijah disappeared from ordinary view and broke into Jewish religious imagination—now appearing at just the right moment, to prompt, protect, and provoke us to deepen ordinary events into Elijah Moments. As a … Continue reading

Posted in Elijah, Holidays, Passover | 2 Comments

Hesed Is The Prayer And The Answer

When Sarah died at the age of 127, Abraham’s family lost its hesed, the caring, steadfast acts that connect people and sustain the world. Sarah’s hesed was unfailing, even in difficult times. Let this be your hesed to me, Abraham … Continue reading

Posted in Blessing, Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry, Torah | 2 Comments