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The Transformative Power of Mitzvot

T’tzaveh Exodus 27:20 – 30:10 The title of this Torah portion, T’tzaveh, is usually translated as “Instruct!” or “Command!” The word t’tzaveh has the same root as mitzvah, which also is usually translated as “commandment.” But a mitzvah is more than a...

At The Edge of The Wilderness

B’Shalach Exodus 13:17 – 17:16 When we approach biblical stories as myth, we no longer read the text literally but see it, instead, as the expression of a universal spiritual unfolding. Thus, the opening phrase of this parashah, “Now when Pharaoh let the...

The Chutzpah of the Separate Self

HaAzinu Deuteronomy 32:1 – 52 Chutzpah. Whether Jewish or not, almost everyone knows this Hebrew/Yiddish word. The dictionary defines it as “unmitigated effrontery or impudence, gall, nerve, courage bordering on arrogance.” But there is a much deeper...

How to Find God

Nitzavim-Vayeilech Deuteronomy 29:1 – 31:30 One of the fascinating things about Semitic languages is the way words grow from a root (usually three letters) so that additional letters qualify, illustrate, and expand the meaning of the basic root. Take for example...

Living Extra-Ordinary Lives

Ki Tavo Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:8 Sometimes it seems that the fast-approaching High Holy Days come way too early. The waning days of summer are still warm and inviting, kids are just starting back to school, gardens still need tending and harvesting—who has time...

The Healing Power of Self-Awareness

Shof’tim Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9 Parashat Shof’tim is read around the beginning of the month of Elul, the last month of the Jewish year. Less than 29 days separate us from Rosh HaShanah, New Year’s Day, and Elul is a time of taking personal inventory in...