Chayei Sarah, Elections and Community

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This sermon was delivered at BMH-BJ: The Denver Synagogue on Shabbat morning, November 10, 2012.Most of the country this past Tuesday found themselves glued to their television sets throughout the evening. We tried every way possible to avoid the nearly 73,000 commercials these past few months. We turned off all of our lights when we saw a campaign volunteer approach our front door. We sifted through the mountains of mailings that flooded our mailbox. Yet, on Tuesday night, for so many of … [Read more...]

Conversion As An Act of Kindness

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Conversion to Judaism is noble process that represents a person's desire to find shelter under the wings of the Divine Presence as manifested through the unique pathway of the Covenant at Sinai.1 For a long period of Jewish history it took quite an exceptional person indeed to seek out conversion to Judaism. Jews lived in bitter and harsh conditions, suffering persecution and discrimination at the hands of almost every country they found themselves in. Hence, the Talmud teaches that when a … [Read more...]

The Hunger Games and Divine Concealment

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Many have written in recent days about the wildly popular new movie The Hunger Games based on the book series of the same name. There have been those who have written about it from a political perspective and those who have analyzed it from an artistic perspective, and of course, those who have viewed it from a religious lens. In regards to the latter category, many Jewish writers have focused in on its connection to the holiday of Passover, which we are currently in the midst of it. The story … [Read more...]

The Exodus and Miraculous Realism

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This past weekend Jews throughout the world celebrated the beginning of Pesach, the Passover holiday, by embarking on the ancient rituals of the seder. The seder, with its rich symbolic actions and accompanying powerful text from the Haggadah, is an entryway into the psychological, emotional and spiritual experience of the Exodus. Indeed, this is the very point of having the seder, as the early rabbis taught: "In every generation, one is obligated to see oneself as having left Egypt. (Pesachim … [Read more...]

Abraham and Biblical Intertextuality

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Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot has published a remarkable new book Mikra and Meaning (Maggid Books, 2012) in which he demonstrates his tremendous fluency with the Biblical text and his mastery of the rabbinic tradition surrounding it. Each chapter takes the reader on an adventure exploring the intricate and varied ways of understanding the narratives presented in Tanach and plumbing the depths of the tradition for layers upon layers of meaning.I had the distinct privilege of studying under Rabbi … [Read more...]


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