Blessing the Trees

Last week started the Jewish month of Nissan.  And it continues through April 22nd this year.  I mention this because Nissan is a very special month.  The Torah refers to it as the month of spring.  It is for this reason we have leap year in the Jewish calendar:  the month of Nissan must always be in the spring. Because Nissan is the month of spring, it is given a special honor:  it is the month that we bless the … Continue reading

Parsha Tzav: Two Sides of Life

This coming shabbat is called Shabbat Gadol (big or great shabbat), and I am hearing a lot about why this shabbat is called Shabbat Gadol.  I am also hearing a lot about Pesach (Passover) which is less than 2 weeks away.  I am hearing so much that I feel our poor little parsha (weekly Torah portion) is being left out in the cold.  After all, it is kind of boring compared to Pesach.   Pesach has lots of nooks and … Continue reading

When Friends Visit

My friend Eliezer just got into town.  He is just here through shabbat, a couple of days.  I know him from my days in Jerusalem.  And just as you do when a friend that you haven’t seen for a couple of years visits, you spend the first day catching up and the conversation goes all over the place.  One of the places where our conversation went was shabbat guests.  I have invited a few friends over and he asked me … Continue reading

Parsha Vayikra: How to Come Close to HaShem (God)

This week, we start the 3rd book of the Torah: Vayikra (Leviticus). This week’s parsha (Torah portion) gets into the blood and guts of sacrifices.  It is not one of the prettier parshas, but it is an important one nevertheless because it tells us how we can redeem ourselves when we sin, not just as a person, but also as a community or a community leader, including the high priest and the king.  One of the things I like about … Continue reading

Purim and Remembering To Change My Life

Last Thursday was Purim, and I was very busy preparing a Purim Seuda (meal) for adults, and then enjoying the party.  So, I didn’t get a chance to write anything for the Thursday Shmooze.  It is now Thursday again, and I am wondering what to write about.  I keep going around with the same thoughts, over and over again in my head, desperately hoping a new thought will take hold.  And finally a new thought flickers to life. The thought … Continue reading

Parsha (double): Vayakhail-P’kudi – Finishing

Hi y’all, Today is the first day of the first month of the year.  Yeah, I know Rosh haShanah (the Jewish new year – literally:  head of the year) is the new year, but I am just telling you what it said in one of the two parshas (weekly Torah portions) that we read this week.  For those who don’t know, the Jewish calender is lunar based and needs to add an extra month every other year or so to … Continue reading

Parsha Ki Tisa: What Makes a Good Leader

This week’s parsha (Torah portion) is a very full parsha.  It starts with the taking of a census and how to avoid a plague while doing it.  Then it tells how important it is for Aharon and his sons to wash before serving in the tent of meeting, in order to keep from dying. Next we are told of the anointing oil and the incense, and then we read who the main builders of the mishcan (tabernacle) will be.  Next … Continue reading

The Lotteries are Coming, the Lotteries are Coming

Purim.  It means, “Lotteries,” in Hebrew.  Ok, it really means lots, as in drawing lots, which is what a lottery is.  And it is a Jewish holiday where we give out gifts of food to friends, and charity to anyone who asks.  A day where we put on costumes and get so drunk we can’t tell the difference between:  “Blessed is Mordechai (the good guy),” and cursed is Haman (the bad guy).  Oh, and we read/listen to the story of … Continue reading