Succot: A Time to Relax and Enjoy

Today is the 3rd day of Succot. It is late afternoon as I am sitting here in my succah writing to you. I have some hot water heating for tea to drink as I watch the squirrels running along the fence, hedges, and trees. And I sit back and relax in my succah and contemplate. This moment really sums up the holy week we call Succot. Just as I am now relaxing and enjoying the results of my work in … Continue reading

Joyous Secrets of Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is a joy! How can I say such a thing about a day that a fast day full of long and boring services? Can you keep a secret? (if you read to the end, you will find that  I am revealing 2 secrets) Yom Kippur is one of the most joyous days of the year.  It is the day we give our souls its annual bath. Think back to when you were a child and had to take … Continue reading

Rosh haShannah: The Beginning of Change

Sunday at sunset we begin Rosh haShannah. It is commonly referred to as the Jewish New Year. However, it also is the beginning of the 7th month of the year, not the first month of the year. So, I prefer to translate Rosh haShannah as the Head of Change. Rosh means head and shannah can mean to change or transform, as well as year. I prefer calling Rosh haShannah the Beginning of Change because it is the beginning of a … Continue reading

Yom Kippor: What in the World are We Trying to Do?

Friday night starts the holy day of Yom Kippur.  When I was young, and until about 10 years ago, Yom Kippur was an uncomfortable day filled with droning prayers and empty stomachs… and no idea of what I was trying to accomplish or why. Today is a different story.   As the sun sets Friday night and the powerful strains of Kol Nidre start, I understand part of what Yom Kippur is about and how to accomplish it. Simply put, Yom … Continue reading

Parsha (double) Acharai-Kedushim: A Death and Holy Torah

We are on a roll.  This week is our second double parsha (weekly Torah portion) in a row.  It is called Acharai-Kedushim, though some call it Acharai mot-Kedushim.  The reason for the extra word is because the first word, acharai, means after, and some people feel that is not a distinctive enough word.  The second word means death. The name of the second of our two parshas is called Kedushim which is the plural form of the verb, “To separate … Continue reading

Day 7 of Passover: At Last a Choice

Why is Pesach (Passover) 7 days?  We have the first night seder meal, and then the next day (the first day of Pesach), we leave Egypt.  Done.  Why drag it out? The only thing I can think is that there must be something that happens on the 7th day that is at least as important. Let’s see… according to the Torah, we leave Egypt and travel 3 days and then turn around and back-track for 3 days until we come … Continue reading

Parsha Key Tisa: Anger Management

This week’s parsha (weekly Torah portion) is called, “Key tisa,” which literally means, “That you will raise.”  The verse continues with, “The heads of the children of Yisrael to redeem them and give a man atonement of his soul to haShem (god) in redeeming them and there will not be in them a plague in their redemption.”  Basically we are talking here of the first census of the people, but I do find it interesting that the raising of the … Continue reading

Parsha vZot haBracha (Simchat Torah): The End of Torah, or Just the Birth Pains of Torah

The Torah really does not have a beginning and an ending.  Today (Sunday) is the end of Succot,  and on its heals is Simchat Torah which means, “Happiness of Torah.”  On Simchat Torah we finish reading the Torah, and start again to read the Torah.  We also dance with the Torah and celebrate simultaneous endings and beginnings.  If there was only one thing to learn from the Torah, then this cycle would be a circle.  However, when you read the … Continue reading

Succot: Why Now???

We are about to enter into the holy days of Succot (tabernacles) and I thought I would share a few words on the topic.  When I was in Israel, I heard a lot of talk regarding these holy days as to the meaning of the 4 species of trees that we wave, and with the meaning of the succah itself.  At the beginning of one Succot in Israel, a different type of question came to me.  Why does Succot happen … Continue reading

Parsha Vayelech: The Torah of Change

Hello and welcome to the days of returning. We are now in the 10 days between Rosh haShanah (head of change in Hebrew) and Yom Kippor (Hebrew for day of atonement.  It is also called Yom haKipporim which means:  the day like Purim).  These 10 days are called days of repentance, however the Hebrew word for repentance, tshuvah, really means an answer or a return.  You see, on Rosh haShanah we invoked the beginning of change.  Now we are in … Continue reading