"Exodus: Movement of Jah people! Oh-oh-oh, yea-eah!" chants Bob Marley. In his rousing three-minute song "Exodus" he presents a more spiritual feel for Moses than Ridley Scott's 154-minute, whitewashed sword-and-sandals epic.
Reading Tamar's story in light of recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island, as thousands of people take to the streets to demand changes in our justice system, the Torah poses to us today this question: What happens when those in power fail to acknowledge their errors?
When God calls you to some holy task, you might expect a contemplative path, a quiet life of service and love of neighbor. You might expect a comfortable life of piety and hopefulness, grace and caring. But true prophets know better.
Vayishlach begins with our hero on the run. Recall that Jacob emerges from his mother Rebekah just moments after his twin brother Esau; in adulthood, with his mother's help, he tricks his blind father Isaac into giving him the blessing intended for the firstborn.
I am interested in the intersections between spirituality and healthcare because my own religious beliefs inform my choice of career. My passion for medicine stems from a declaration in Islam and various other traditions that saving one person's life is equivalent to saving all of mankind.
For the next 14-18 months, I'm doing a sort of "Human Experiment" project in which I try to figure out what it really means to follow Jesus in the 21st-century Western world.
In the Messiah the Jesus story begins with Israel's prophets. They anticipate the savior's arrival, which finds its fulfillment in the gospel stories. Israel's anticipation and Jesus as its fulfillment: that makes the story.
While we might look at that confession and question God's fairness, this probably came as a word of hope to the exiles. There is a sense of vindication in God's confession, and with that vindication, comes the confidence in a God who holds the power to make things right.
Now is the time, and we are the ones, to release and liberate ourselves from bondage to racism, to repair what is broken in our nation, to restore peace born of justice in the streets.
This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving -- which for many of us is less about gratitude and more about consumption, consumerism and perhaps some family discord. Dedicating time to be grateful is hard; American culture doesn't help us much.
The days from Thanksgiving to Christmas are a time of amplified loss and a time of amplified caring. Some congregations plan a "Blue Christmas" service to acknowledge feelings of loss, anxiety and depression. These honest, holy gatherings assure people they are not alone.
The politicizing of this should not, however, detract us from the clear call of the Scriptures which were written to a people who were born out of the turmoil of the journey from oppression to a land not their own.
Everybody should know these stories because they're so much a part of our culture. You have to know what they're about to be culturally literate, and you have to admit that you really can understand why people think and behave as they do from what we've been reading and discussing for the past several weeks.
Thanksgiving has been celebrated by Native Americans, Christians, Jews and whoever else wants to since 1621, and I firmly believe we should continue unapologetically to celebrate giving thanks to God Almighty for our many blessings.
While we are quick to appeal to biblical values in order to marginalize others, when that same Bible calls us to love those folks we want to marginalize, all of our talk about biblical values suddenly and conspicuously disappears.
Jews are known as the People of the Book. This designation speaks to Judaism's focus on the intellect, its emphasis on theological argumentation and dedicated study. However, it is clear from the Torah that Jews also come from a long line of people rooted in the earth.