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Life Cycle

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  1. “How Are the Mighty [Innocent] Fallen?”

    Commentary by Rabbi Samuel Barth on July 4, 2014 in Life Cycle

    In the elegy of David for Saul and his beloved Jonathan, the Hebrew words “ Eikh naflu gibborim ” (2 Sam. 1:17) carry a wordless cry and howl of anguish not rendered by the translation “How are the mighty fallen?” Professor Francis Landy of the University ...

    stasch - July 2, 2014

  2. The Working Life

    Commentary by Rabbi Lilly Kaufman on June 6, 2014 in Life Cycle

    In my family, we are not the retiring type—although we do tend toward shyness. What I mean is that we don’t have a family tradition of retiring from professional work. We tend to work until we can’t. When I noticed that Parashat Beha-alotekha features an ...

    stasch - June 3, 2014

  3. Paying Attention to Our Bodies and Ourselves

    Commentary by William Friedman on April 3, 2014 in Life Cycle

    What are the rituals that help us transition from one experience to another? Do we merely float through life, stoically absorbing its shocks, riding its waves, and pushing its regular cycles to the periphery of our awareness? Or do we take the time to sto ...

    kehirschmann - April 3, 2014

  4. Silence and Loss

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on March 18, 2014 in Life Cycle

    One of the most enigmatic and painful moments of all of Tanakh occurs in Parashat Shemini. Nadav and Avihu, Aaron’s sons, come before the altar and offer what Torah describes as an “alien fire.” Without any sense of deliberation or warning, a divine fire ...

    cldemesier - March 19, 2014

  5. Ahuzah: Settling Down

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on October 23, 2013 in Life Cycle

    At the opening of this week’s parashah, Abraham is occupied with arrangements for the burial of his beloved wife, Sarah. Subsequent to his period of mourning, Abraham turns to the Hittites, the ruling authorities of the land in his day, and politely reque ...

    cldemesier - October 23, 2013

  6. Mizmor LeDavid (Psalm 23)—Time, Text, Melody

    Commentary by Rabbi Samuel Barth on October 23, 2013 in Life Cycle

    Psalm 23 is beloved in much of the English-speaking world for affirming a certainty of the divine presence—even in times of dread and adversity—in the most hauntingly beautiful language. The paean to the Psalm by 19th-century American pastor Henry Ward Be ...

    cldemesier - October 23, 2013

  7. Life: Quantity vs. Quality

    Commentary by Rabbi Eliezer Diamond on October 23, 2013 in Life Cycle

    “And the span of Sarah’s life was 127 years—the years of Sarah’s life” (Gen. 23:1; my translation). Whenever I read this verse, I feel a deep sadness that is only intensified by the story that follows. Let me explain. There are many ways of measuring a li ...

    cldemesier - October 23, 2013

  8. Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders

    Audio by JTS on March 5, 2013 in Life Cycle

    With unsparing honesty and surprising humor, Dr. Ladin wrestles with both the practical problems of gender transition and the larger moral, spiritual, and philosophical questions that arise. Readers can eavesdrop on her lifelong conversations with God, wh ...

    chschwartz - March 8, 2013

  9. "Alas, Poor Yorick": A Grave Affair

    Commentary by Rabbi Robert Harris on August 25, 2012 in Life Cycle

    "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his back a thousand times, and now how abhorr'd in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it." (Hamlet, act 5, scene 1, lines 1 ...

    chschwartz - September 5, 2014

  10. Living The Life Waiting For Us

    Commentary by Rabbi Abigail Treu on July 7, 2012 in Life Cycle

    My uncle was in his midforties when he was diagnosed. A burly man with a wild red beard and a huge laugh, his doctor's appointment—just weeks after his twin daughters had celebrated becoming b'not mitzvah—was supposed to be a routine visit for a ...

    chschwartz - October 11, 2012