This Week In Wisdom


Tears on the Digital Road to Jerusalem 

“If a picture paints a thousand words, then an experience paints 10,000.” “Stand where He stood. Walk where He walked. Discover it for yourself.” When we bring rising Christian leaders on pilgrimage to Israel, we emphasize that there is nothing like seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling the complicated, beautiful, Holy Land that birthed their tradition and ours. Born out of necessity amid the pandemic, we began to experiment with digital pilgrimages to see if they could feel every bit as real as those that happened in person. We knew from the......

Continue Reading


Passing the Mantle

Torah is endless. We conclude our reading of Deuteronomy and begin anew with Genesis in the same breath each Simchat Torah. It is continuous, a blueprint for the world that unfolds before us. By contrast, the humans spoken of in the Torah are temporal beings, whose ends are sometimes of greater significance than their beginnings. In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Chukat (Numbers 19:1 – 22:1), we read of the death of the original High Priest, Aaron. We know far more about it than we do of his birth, or even of......

Continue Reading


Once-in-a-Decade Revelations

Every year at Shavuot, Jewish communities all around the world celebrate the giving of Torah with raucous gatherings, enormous slabs of cheesecake, and Torah learning from dusk to dawn. Of the many fond memories I have of my time living in Jerusalem a decade ago, house-hopping throughout the night of Shavuot sits comfortably atop the list. I learned provocative, inspiring Torah from complete strangers, danced with folks from Haredi to Hiloni (strictly Orthodox to strictly secular), and emerged from my last learning session to feel the rising sun on my face while I prayed at the......

Continue Reading


Derek Chauvin, Justice and Deuteronomy 16:20

Closing arguments in Derek Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd are unfolding as I write. The voices of protestors, speculators, and commentators rise, along with the voices of attorneys for both the state and for Mr. Chauvin, all calling for “Justice,” in these final hours before the case is handed to the jury. There is no shortage of stridently held opinions about what should happen here — not from the lawyers, the protestors, the commentators or the speculators — most notably, from Rep. Maxine Waters, whose words both inspire and......

Continue Reading


Deeper Intentions and the Life of Daunte Wright

At the very same time the trial against Derek Chauvin is unfolding in Minneapolis, another Black man, Daunte Wright, has been killed by a police officer in nearby Brooklyn Center.  George Floyd, as is well known and viscerally horrifying, was killed by Chauvin as the now-former officer pressed down on his neck for nine and one-half minutes, ignoring pleas for mercy and for justice.  The intention to use force was clear. The trial will determine if nine and a half minutes of application of such force can be equated to murderous intent......

Continue Reading


Night Words, A Midrash For The Holocaust

The Meaning of this Day, January 27, 2021 In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated January 27–the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau–as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this annual day of commemoration, the UN urges the world community to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism. The theme guiding Holocaust remembrance in 2021 is Facing the Aftermath: Recovery and Reconstitution After The Holocaust. The never-ending process of recovery and reconstitution of individuals, communities, and systems of justice includes: accurately recording the......

Continue Reading


Reckoning or Reconciliation?  How About Both?

To impeach or not to impeach. That is the question. Or is it? Perhaps the more important question at this moment is not a question of what to do, but of why we do it. That has certainly been my approach, as I am asked if there are any spiritual or religious responses to the cresting chorus of those who are ready to explain the “right answer” to the question of impeachment — Focusing on the “why” more than the “what.” The question of whether or not the President should be impeached,......

Continue Reading