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  1. A Shared Responsibility

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on August 1, 2014 in Ethics

    This coming Shabbat, we begin the fifth and final book of Torah as we read Parashat Devarim, the opening of the book of Deuteronomy. Moses addresses the people in Moab just as the next generation under the leadership of Joshua is about to enter th ...

    stasch - July 30, 2014

  2. Binding and Releasing

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on July 18, 2014 in Ethics

    At the very beginning of Parashat Mattot, the topic of words and vows is addressed. The Torah makes the importance of what one utters abundantly clear, lest there be any misunderstanding about it. Rather than addressing the entire people, however, ...

    stasch - July 16, 2014

  3. Doing Violence for God

    Commentary by Professor Arnold M. Eisen on July 11, 2014 in Ethics

    What are we to think about Pinehas, son of Eleazar son of Aaron the high priest, after whom this week’s Torah portion is named? ...

    stasch - July 9, 2014

  4. The Importance of Constructive Action

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on July 11, 2014 in Ethics

    Recall the troubling and cryptic episode at the conclusion of last week’s parashah: the Israelites encamp at Shittim; they are seduced by Moabite women and attach themselves to an idolatrous cult of Ba‘al Pe‘or. As retribution for this act, God co ...

    stasch - July 9, 2014

  5. Between Cursing and Blessing, Peace and Truth

    Commentary by Rabbi Tim Daniel Bernard on July 4, 2014 in Ethics

    That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.” Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. And God was very angry when he went ...

    stasch - July 2, 2014

  6. Moses’s Misstep: Words Not Deeds

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on June 27, 2014 in Ethics

    With the loss of both Miriam and Aaron, Parashat Hukkat marks a liminal and tragic point in the Israelite wanderings toward the Land of Israel. In the aftermath of Miriam’s death, however, a dearth of water strikes the Israelites. They cry out in ...

    stasch - June 26, 2014

  7. Korah’s Fire Pans: Relics of Rebellion to Sacred Lessons

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on June 20, 2014 in Ethics

    Contentiousness, dissent, and upheaval mark the opening of Parashat Korah. Dissatisfied with his status among the Israelite people, Korah leads a rebellion against the leadership of Moses, claiming, “You have gone too far! For all the community ar ...

    stasch - June 18, 2014

  8. Unity and Leadership

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on June 13, 2014 in Ethics

    At the very beginning of this week’s parashah, Moses organizes a mission to scout out the land of Canaan. As the Israelites stand on the verge of dispossessing the Canaanite nations, God commands Moses to reconnoiter the territory through the agen ...

    stasch - June 11, 2014

  9. Pride, Power, and Corruption in the Name of God

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on May 2, 2014 in Ethics

    In the wake of religious fundamentalism that plagues our world today, why aren’t religious leaders vocal in their opposition to bloodshed and corruption in the name of God? By turning a blind eye and silencing their voices, they tacitly give their ...

    stasch - April 30, 2014

  10. The Kosher Golden Rule

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on April 25, 2014 in Ethics

    Two great questions are often asked in our community: What is our obligation to our fellow Jews? What are our responsibilities to the larger world? Parashat Kedoshim seeks to provide an answer to these queries in teaching what is perhaps the most ...

    stasch - April 10, 2014