General Topics

Who is afraid of a solar eclipse?

There will be a solar eclipse on August 21st visible across a band of the US for the first time since 1918. Solar eclipses occur when the moon blocks the rays of the sun reaching the earth. There are more lunar eclipses and planetary eclipses. But for us on earth, the solar is the big one. Until a few hundred…

Continue Reading

Parsha Vezot Haberaha

The Last Words of Moses

As Moses is about to die he blesses the tribes of Israel, echoing the blessings that Jacob gave before he died. Like Jacob, he gives a brief one line to Reuben but unlike Jacob he ignores the tribe of Simeon and also gives a very brief line to Judah. But he says much more than Jacob about the tribe of…

Continue Reading

Parsha Vezot Haberaha

Who Was Jeshurun?

Jeshurun is used only twice and both times by Moses. The first time is in Ha’Azinu. Vayishman Yeshurun Vayiva’at. Jeshurun became fat (complacent) and kicked over the traces. Or here in Vezot HaBeraha. There is no God like Jeshurun. Or there is no one before God to compare to Jeshurun. What or who is Jeshurun? Once again, our commentators are…

Continue Reading

Parsha Vezot Haberaha

Who Wrote the Last Lines?

“Moses, the servant of God, died there in the land of Moab according to the word of God. He was buried in guy (a valley) in the land of Moab opposite Ba’al Peor. And no one knows where he was buried until this very day. Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eyes had no dimmed nor his…

Continue Reading

Parsha Ha-azinu

Listen

Ha’azinu, this week’s Torah, literally means “Listen”! Or as they used to say “Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Or Oyez! Oyez! But hearing is not enough. Words, sounds are vehicles for actions. So Ha’azinu also means pay attention. Realize. Connect. As indeed does the parallel word Shema. Hebrew poetry is full of parallelisms, saying something and then repeating it in other…

Continue Reading

Parsha Ha-azinu

Forgetting and Remembering

The poetry of Ha’azinu hammers away at two ideas. Zachor, remembering, is the good word, remember Shabbat, remember what your enemies tried to do. Remember mistakes like Miriam’s. Forgetting is negative, destructive. It implies intent. “Remember the days of old.” But “You have grown, fat and complacent and deserted God.” “But you have forgotten the Rock that gave birth to…

Continue Reading