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.
It would be no exaggeration to say that these stories were a maelstrom of meanings that churned students up, and any book which accomplishes this in the blasé teenage world of today is, indeed, a gift from the gods.
I love Thanksgiving. I love the food, the fellowship, the friends and family, the football and did I mention that I love the food. Unashamedly it might very well be my favorite holiday. Yet, despite all my warm feelings about Thanksgiving, I am not blind to its historical shortcomings.
Reading this week's Torah reading is almost physically painful. The parasha (Torah reading) -- named after "Sarah's life," but beginning with her death -- begins with the elaborately described process of Abraham's acquiring a burial place for his wife.
I wonder if you would work very differently than you do now if you knew that your end would come in just 15 years. I wonder if you would spend time with your loved ones, invest in others' lives, and carry yourself very differently than you do now. I wonder if you would slow down in some things and speed up or be more committed in other things. I wonder.
Is it possible that God has a 'Damascus Road experience' ready to give to all mankind before his throne, like he also gave to the Ninevites in Jonah's story?
Anyone who wants to major in the arts and humanities, the natural sciences, the helping professions, or simply wants to be culturally literate, must come to terms with the Bible, that literary Mount Everest that has shaped Western humanity's view of itself and the universe.
Ebola, war, conflict, economic turmoil, political victories, political losses: This is the stuff of the nightly news. And everywhere we look we have a new villain to worry about, a new threat against which we ought to brace, a new sense of hopelessness.
The Maggid would ask us to apply this way of thinking to the world around us as well, and to our own lives. His teaching calls us to examine even seemingly ordinary moments, and to sense how holiness and The Divine dwell within them.
We read of Abraham, the first Jew, and the first to discover a Creator. For a moment, let us contrast God's revelation at Sinai when He gave the Torah and revealed Himself to all as Master of the Universe, with Abraham's self-discovery of God in his youth.
A Christianity without hell would have nothing to recommend it but the constant and unending love of God. It would allow Christians to point upward to God's love -- but never downward to His/Her wrath.
Together, these four parables in Matthew refuse to let us think that the Christian life equals passivity. Each parable commends readiness, whether that readiness involves actively caring for those in God's "house" or meeting the needs of people who suffer.
As descendants of Abraham and Sarah, both wanderers and welcomers, may our individual and communal homes be open to strangers, and may our hearts be open to the possibilities that strangeness can awaken within us -- wherever we go, wherever we find ourselves.
All Saints' Day usually recalls our communion with of our spiritual ancestors throughout the centuries, celebrating our unity with saints as far away as North Africa in the fourth century and as close as our deceased relatives. But All Saints' Day also reminds us of our bond with all believers.
In this week's Torah Reading -- Bereishis -- we reembark on the annual cycle, returning to the very beginning of the Bible, Genesis.
I never thought that a children's film about a Mexican holiday would motivate me to delve deeper into my own religious background and my views on death.