Category Archives: Midrash

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

Kindness, Not Sacrifice

Lonely and painful winter days invite nostalgia for days of hesed—days of loving kindness and compassion. So says the poet, Yehuda Amichai: “Those were days of hesed,” I heard them say once on a winter street during days of loneliness … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Poetry | 1 Comment

Sufficient Meaning?

The Torah’s written words are not sufficient.   It is the reading of the word and not the word alone that produces meaning.  Meaning appears when timely experiences enter into conversation with the timeless text. Rashi, the great commentator, gives an … Continue reading

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The Lulav: Pointing To Creator and Creature at the Season of Creation

It is the manner of earthly monarchs to extend the scepter with favor towards a subject.  During Sukkot, when the lulav becomes the scepter, it is the earthly, earthy subject who extends the scepter with favor towards the horizons and … Continue reading

Posted in Holidays, Midrash, Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry | 4 Comments

From Clenched Fist to Open Hand

The ancient sages disputed whether the troubled and troubling book, Ecclesiastes, should have a place among the holy writings.  Sages who appreciated its value suggested that Ecclesiastes charted a course through the thicket of life, blazing an articulate path through … Continue reading

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Where Shall We Put The Sign?

In the “movie version” of the Passover story, we watch the people of Israel paint the blood of the Passover offering on their doors as a sign that marks their houses for protection against what will be the last of … Continue reading

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Risking the Red Sea

In an essay called On Risk and Solitude, psychotherapist Adam Phillips reports an important lesson learned by a young patient who overcame his fear of the water through risk: I knew I was safer out of my depth because even … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Parshat HaShavuah | 6 Comments

The Living Gathering of Ancestors

The parshah that recounts the death of Jacob begins:  VaYechi Ya’akov/ Jacob lived.  Some see in this beginning a testimony to unending vitality despite death. Jacob, aware that his life is ending, says:  I am to be gathered to my … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry | 1 Comment

The Pit in Joseph

The story of Joseph begins in parshat VaYeshev where his rise to power begins in a pit:  They [Joseph’s brothers] took him and threw him into a pit (Genesis 27:31). A short midrash explores the effect of this moment on … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry | 2 Comments

Naming the Angel

At the end of a night-long struggle, Jacob earned a new name from his assailant—Israel, the one who prevailed over God. In return, Jacob asked:  Please tell me your name.  And he replied:  Why do you ask my name? (Genesis … Continue reading

Posted in Angels, Midrash, Names, Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry | 2 Comments