Category Archives: Torah

Naming The Unimaginable

At the harrowing end, a ram replaced Yitzhak as the sacrifice; a narrow escape that came only after two divine interventions to divert father Abraham from his unimaginable mission. Generations of rabbinic storytellers imagined even narrower escapes for Yitzhak, placing … Continue reading

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Believe it—And Not

Noah was lacking in belief, taught the 3rd century teacher, Rabbi Yohanan. If not for the water reaching his ankles, he would not have entered the ark. Lacking in belief? Noah, who fulfilled the twin tasks of building the great … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Parshat HaShavuah, Torah | 4 Comments

Steps, Blessed Be They

God is steps, declared Yehuda Amichai. Such an outright assertion about God was unusual for the great Israeli poet. He was fond of similes that invited listeners closer to the mystery without violating the distance that mystery needs. Among his … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Poetry, Prayer, Torah | 1 Comment

How Deep? How High?

How much do I love you? I’ll tell you no lie. How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky? Irving Berlin wrote the song, How Deep Is the Ocean? in 1932. It consists mainly of rhetorical questions that point … Continue reading

Posted in Holidays, Midrash, Passover, Poetry, Torah | Leave a comment

Forgetting Reminds Me…

The national election created in me a deep sense that I wanted to meet and speak with more of my neighbors. In my busy-ness, it’s easy to walk past the community of the every-day. That seems wrong to me now. … Continue reading

Posted in Names, Parshat HaShavuah, Torah | 5 Comments

The Binding Of God

To my mind’s eye, Rabbi Berechiah appeared stoop-shouldered and mournful on Rosh Hashanah as he listened to the Torah reader recite Genesis 22, The Binding of Isaac. Berechiah, a 4th century sage of the land of Israel, was pained by … Continue reading

Posted in Days of Awe, Holidays, Midrash, Poetry, Torah | 1 Comment

The Deepening And Expanding Torah

After Mount Sinai, the Mishnah says, height was no longer the measure of Torah; depth and breadth became Torah’s new and useful dimensions: Moses received Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua who transmitted it to the elders; from … Continue reading

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Where The House Once Was

It’s hard to imagine Torah scholars having such a furious argument that they ripped a Torah scroll. But… It happened, did it not, in the synagogue of Tiberias over the issue of a doorstop that had a knob on the … Continue reading

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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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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