This Week In Wisdom


Barley: A Love Story

This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Nasso relates the ancient and problematic practice of Sotah, in which a husband who experiences a “fit of jealousy” and is “wrought up” (Numbers 5:14) that his wife might have been unfaithful to him, can engage a ritual practice to discern whether she is innocent of wrongdoing. It is grotesquely patriarchal and filled with magical thinking that a yucky mixture of barley flour, earth from the floor of the Tabernacle, and water “induces a spell” that makes a woman’s “thigh to sag” and “belly to distend” if......

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Making Our Laws Holy

When an 18-year-old (may his name be blotted out) walked into a gun shop and bought a pair of assault rifles and enough ammunition to create a war zone at an elementary school, he violated no laws. The gun laws in Texas and across many parts of the United States have been so debased as to make the unholy legal. The law walked hand in hand with the gunman up to the point in which he trespassed and then unleashed carnage, taking the lives of 19 small children and two teachers in what should have been......

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Who you are in the field...

Several weeks ago I was teaching Torah to a group of students from around the country that has met weekly for several months. As the sessions meet in the evening time, it usually means that I’m occupied with bedtime routines for our three children right up until 6:59 PM, at which point I make a mad dash into the bedroom to start the class, and wish my wife godspeed for the remaining half hour (on a good night) of the various rituals, routines, and meltdowns that accompany bedtime. About 10 minutes into......

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Pesach 2022

This week, we welcome the holiday of Passover, the holiday of freedom. During the Passover seder, we act out the story of our ancestors being redeemed from Egypt. In the Talmud, there’s also the idea that we are supposed to understand ourselves to have been redeemed from slavery, too. And there are those who take it one step further. Our ancestors were redeemed in ancient Egypt, we too were redeemed, and not only that: The 19th-century Chassidic Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (commonly known by the name of his influential book, The Sefat......

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