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Teachings

Divrei HaTefillah: Baal Shem Tov, selection from section Peh Chet of Amud HaTefillah

This was written in 5777 and is intended for use as a kavvannah or meditation before Pesukei Dezimra, verses of praise, on a Shabbat or chag morning. Before we begin our davening this morning with Pesukei DeZimra or psalms of praise, I want to offer a brief kavannah or intention for our prayers. Many do not realize that Judaism has...[ read more ]

Mishpatim 5779

This commentary was written for the Avodah Jewish Service Corps in 5779/2019. Mishpatim, our Torah portion for this week, consists of a series of miscelaneous laws covering a wide array of subject matter, everything from the laws of owning slaves (an incredibly important conversation to dig into though that is not our area for this week), the importance of keeping...[ read more ]

Emor 5776

This commentary was written in May 2016, in the Jewish year 5776. Parashat Emor opens with a description of right priestly conduct. In Leviticus 21:17-23, we find a lengthy list of those Kohenim who have a mum—often translated as blemish which disqualifies them from sacrificial service. This list includes blind Kohenim, as well as Kohenim who have a limb-length discrepancy,...[ read more ]

Terumah 5776

This drash was originally delivered at Congregation Beth Israel in Worcester, Massachusetts on February 13, 2016. Shabbat shalom!!! Thank you so much for having me in your community this Shabbat. It is such an honor and a privilege to be with you. This morning, I am going to be speaking about one of my favorite verses in the Torah, which...[ read more ]

Reasonable Accommodations Are A Torah Value

The Book of Exodus introduces us to Moshe, our tradition’s greatest prophet and teacher, who many understand to be a person who lived with a speech disability. In Exodus 4:10-16, G-d informs Moshe that he will lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt—from slavery to freedom. Moshe balks at this tremendous pronouncement. Who am I, he asks, to lead...[ read more ]

Open My Heart To Your Torah

Open My Heart to Your Torah. On Shabbat Parashat Bo 5779, January 12, 2019, I found myself in shul, like I do every Shabbat, wishing Shabbat shalom to folks as I entered the sanctuary, wrapping myself in my tallit and taking out my Hebrew Braille siddur, just like I would on any other Shabbat. There was a bat mitzvah celebrated...[ read more ]

Parashat Vaera 5779

Written as part of my work as Ruach Avodah for Washington, DC. This week’s Torah portion, Parashat Va’era, the second Torah portion in the book of Exodus opens with a divine encounter between Moses and God, in which God tells Moses that God has heard the cries of the Children of Israel. God instructs Moses to tell the Children of...[ read more ]

Chanukah 5779

There is a short passage in the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 21B in which the rabbis are debating and discussing some of the specifics around lighting the Chanukah menorah. One of the questions they ask is, do we begin Chanukah by lighting all eight candles in the chanukiyah and then decrease by one candle each night until on the eighth night...[ read more ]

A Short Reflection on Parashat Vayeitze

This piece was written in 5777 as part of a course on Chasidic Torah commentaries. The Sfat Emet offers us some compelling teachings on Parashat Vayeitzei which dovetail nicely with the teachings that the Ohev Yisrael brings on last week's parsha, Parashat Toldot regarding the wells that Yitzchack dug. Whereas the Ohev Yisrael thinks about the wells as representing sources...[ read more ]

On Spiritual Seeking: A Dvar Torah for Parashat Vayeitze

This dvar was written in 5777. Leah’s story has always cried out to me in this week’s parsha—darsheni! And no, it’s not because my Hebrew name just so happens to be Leah. I find much of Leah’s narrative to be deeply resonant and oh so human. Though on its face, Leah’s is a deeply troubling and tragic story, I think...[ read more ]




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