Category Archives: Midrash

Each Person’s Stamp and Seal

The end of the matter, all things being heard:  Revere God and observe his commandments, for this is the sum of human life. With this verse, the liturgical reading of Ecclesiastes comes to an end; the penultimate verse is repeated … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Poetry, Talmud | 3 Comments

Leavening On Our Shelves And In Ourselves

Every year, several weeks before Passover, my personal search for leaven begins in a way that is more symbolic than actual. I approach my bookshelves where there are many books that have served their rising, yeasty purposes and are now … Continue reading

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

The Middle Of The Story And The Story Of The Middle

On the Torah page, the miracle of Passover’s seventh day comes into view. The Torah page literally pictures Israel crossing the sea—glistening black letters against sea foam parchment.  The words are inscribed according to the script: Look! There are the people … Continue reading

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A Branch of the Tree of Life

Moses’ staff escaped our notice completely until God drew attention to it by asking Moses: What is that in your hand? (Exodus 4:2). That staff is the most animated of all the inanimate objects in the Torah. Jolted from scaly … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry | 6 Comments

Sinai’s Appealing Thunder

I will not float in space un-tethered lest a cloud obscure the very fine line in my heart that separates good and evil. I have no life-line without the lightning and the thunder that I heard at Sinai. (Click here … Continue reading

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Never Too Early, Never Too Late

On the 9th anniversary of my father’s death— It seemed to some ancient sages that the Book of Ezekiel opens years after the start of the prophet’s career. Instead of beginning in the fifth year of the exile of King … Continue reading

Posted in Events, Life cycle, Memory, Midrash, Poetry | 3 Comments

In Light of Obligation

Halacha is law; the obligated Jewish life. To live without halacha is impossible. To live with it is risky— from a lecture by Rabbi David Hartman. When halachic man looks to the western horizon and sees the fading rays of … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Poetry, Prayer, Talmud | 3 Comments

More Moment Than Mountain

Ancient legends say that great mountains contended to be the site where God would reveal the Torah. But God did not have loftiness in mind: Mount Tabor and Mount Carmel presented themselves with pride as wide as the world saying:  … Continue reading

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Monumental Presence

(In memory of Talia Agler) The solace of a gravestone is its solidity—a feature carried in the Hebrew word matzevah, meaning “firmly fixed.” But a gravestone need not merely be a solid surface that reflects the past. It can be … Continue reading

Posted in Memory, Midrash, Poetry | 1 Comment

Between the Mountain and the Moment

The last words of the Ten Commandments resound from Sinai and the narrative of revelation continues:  All the people saw the thunder and the lightning, the blare of the horn and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, … Continue reading

Posted in Holidays, Midrash, Poetry, Torah | 3 Comments