In this week's parsha, we talk about the actual building of the Mishkan, the moveable tabernacle that the Hebrews carried around with them in the desert wanderings. Up to this point, we've talked about why there needed to be a Mishkan and we even had a rather long parsha that explained in great detail all … Continue reading Slowing Down and Building the Mishkan
In this week's parsha, Yaakov famously wrestles with Esav's angel, gaining an injury and the name Israel. In the Torah, every nation has its own angel watching over it and we've already learned that Esav is destined to be a mighty nation in his own right. The struggle is dramatic and costs Yaakov, injuring his … Continue reading Parshas Vayishlach – Wrestling with Angels and New Names
In this week's parsha, Sarah, the spiritual mother of all Jews and particularly of converts, dies and is the first person to be buried in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, the only piece of the land promised to Abraham that he would actually own in his lifetime, but a promise for more. Rivka … Continue reading Parshas Chayei Sarah – Big Shoes To Fill
This week's parsha begins the story of Avraham, the father of monotheism and the spiritual father of all Jewish converts. His story begins with a command that's familiar: “Go from your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.” In some way or other, we all … Continue reading Parshas Lech Lecha – Go!
Next year, Hashem willing, our children will be in Orthodox day schools. This is a requirement for most converts because we may not be able to teach our children everything they need to know when it comes to Judaism. Most day schools are simply private schools that follow a "dual curriculum." Students spend roughly half … Continue reading Judaic Studies…in Alaska (or how to teach your children when you live very remote from Day Schools!)
In this week's double dose parsha, Moses completes telling the Jewish people the laws of the Torah and all the blessings and curses they will receive depending on whether they choose to follow it or abandon it. He reassures them that keeping the mitzvos really isn't impossible. “For the mitzvah which I command you this day, it … Continue reading Parshas Nitzavim-Vayelech: Choices and a Life of Happiness vs. a Life of Meaning
Right now, the US is kind of a mess. Texas is still drying out and cleaning up from massive flooding. A huge wildfire is burning large swaths of forest and homes in Oregon. Over a hundred small earthquakes have hit Idaho, in an area not used to earthquakes. An enormous, category 5 hurricane is headed … Continue reading Not Punishment, but Medicine?
This week's parsha seems to mirror what I see in the world around me this week. Most of the parsha is concerned with a number of blessings and curses that Moses tells the people will happen to them. He commands that half of the tribes will ascend one mountain and half the other when they … Continue reading Parshat Ki Tavo – Justice, but Where is Kindness?
This week's parsha (weekly Torah portion) is a doozy. Even just from a perspective of trying to process it all, this week's parsha has 74 of the Torah's 613 mitzvahs in it, so that's a lot to take in. Interestingly, though, this week's parsha also has a lot of mitzvahs regarding women. My dear friend … Continue reading The Beautiful Captive – Parshas Ki Teitzei
This week's parsha comes at a very critical time, both in recent modern history as well as on the Jewish calendar. We are at the end of the Hebrew month of Av and the month of Elul is about to begin, which is a month dedicated to repentance. It's a time when Jews take stock … Continue reading Parsha Re’eh – A Blessing and a Curse
This week's parsha continues the theme of Moses preparing the Jews to enter the land of Egypt. He wants them to be ready for the challenges that they will face and he uses a mixture of encouragement and also some reminders of their past failings. He's essentially been the father of this people, bringing them … Continue reading Parshas Eikev – Turning Our Eyes to a New Land
One of the things I love most about Judaism is the awareness and intention it can bring to even the most mundane and everyday of tasks. Growing up, "religion" was something that was always separate from everyday life. We went to church on certain days and not others. We prayed only on certain days or … Continue reading Everyday Holiness