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Yom Kippur / Yizkor 5783: Regrets, I've Had a Few

10/06/2022 11:53:23 AM


Rabbi Ben Goldberg

You can tell a lot about what people value in a life 

from what they choose to highlight when it ends. 

As a rabbi, I have the privilege and responsibility 

to attend more funerals than the average person, 

certainly of my age. And what they say 

about resume virtues versus eulogy virtues 

is...

Kol Nidrei 5783: The Heart Knows the Bitterness

10/06/2022 11:52:27 AM


Rabbi Ben Goldberg

My senior year of college, some Jewish students on my campus faced a dilemma. You see, Yom Kippur that year was a Saturday. It so happened that there was also a major football game at home that day, with the attendant tailgating and other events that made it a major social occasion. For me personally, this was not a conflict: I generally ignored the football scene to begin with, and would have made the choice to fast and be in...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 5783 Day 2: The Power of Kindness

10/06/2022 11:51:10 AM


Rabbi Ben Goldberg

       Some years ago, I met an extraordinary woman who taught me the power of kindness.

       I spent a summer working as a hospital chaplain, where I was assigned to the Intensive Care Unit. My job was at once straightforward and extraordinarily complex: I was to visit patients and their families, offering them spiritual support during their time of...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 5783 Day 1: Can We Be Together?

10/06/2022 10:57:07 AM


Rabbi Ben Goldberg

Can we be together?


It was pointed out to me some months ago that this deceptively simple question is in fact the defining question of this moment, for rabbis and Jewish leaders, but really for all of us.


Can we be together?


Allow me to catalog the reasons why being together might not, in fact, be as straightforward as it sounds, or as...Read more...

Emor 2022: Thoughts and Actions

05/13/2022 11:23:47 AM


Rabbi Ben Goldberg

This week’s Torah portion, Emor, contains, among other things, various sacrificial laws.

We read: “When you sacrifice a thanksgiving offering to the LORD, sacrifice it so that it may be acceptable in your favor (lirtzonkhem)” (Leviticus 22:29). What is the function of the word ratzon (will, desire, favor) in this verse?

Initially, this may have indicated that the thanksgiving offering specifically was optional, not...Read more...

Laws and Rules: Aharei Mot 2022

04/20/2022 01:44:04 PM


Rabbi Ben Goldberg

A passage in this week’s Torah portion, Aharei Mot, like many in the Torah, impresses upon its audience the need to observe the mitzvoth.

“My rules alone shall you observe, and faithfully follow My law: I the LORD am your God (Leviticus 18:4), we read.

The passage is potentially redundant: is there a difference between rules (mishpatim) and laws (hukkim)?

Yes, answers the commentator Rashi. “Laws” are those...

Va-yera 5780: Laughter

11/19/2019 03:45:44 PM


Va-yera 2019 This week, I had occasion to visit another synagogue in the New York area. It is nowhere near here, and I will not name it in order to protect the innocent. As I wandered around looking for my meeting, I saw a large sign near the door to their children's playground, saying: “No high heels on the playground surface,” accompanied by a graphic of an extremely high-heeled shoe with a red circle and diagonal line around it. I...Read more...

Noach 5780: Believing and Not Believing

11/07/2019 03:22:51 PM


Alison Spodek Keimowitz was dying. She lay in a hospital bed, dying of leukemia as a 37 year old mother of two children. Her illness, of course, took a toll on her mental state. She was too blown apart by her illness and intensive treatment to depend on the mindfulness practice that has sustained her through the ups and downs of life prior to her illness. But a mindfulness practitioner gave her a simple exercise: to count to four in line...Read more...

Yom Kippur/Yizkor 5780: Good Grief

10/10/2019 02:46:08 PM


Megan Devine is a psychotherapist in private practice. She had worked with hundreds of people facing any number of problems that led them to her office: substance addiction, abuse, trauma, and grief. She devoted her career to building up people's emotional literacy and resilience. But then, on an ordinary summer day in 2009, she watched her partner Matt drown in a freak accident, just a few months shy of his fortieth birthday. If anyone would...Read more...

Kol Nidre 5780: Apologies, Good and Bad

10/10/2019 02:38:06 PM


In the spirit of Yom Kippur, I have a confession to make. About two years ago, I was preparing for my wedding and had to assemble my wedding party. I had always intended to include my sister. We had spoken about it generally, but I never asked her in so many words to take on this honor. I did ask the few other people in the party. Then, I told Daniel to send an email to the whole group, including my sister, with logistics about what we needed...Read more...
Tue, May 30 2023 10 Sivan 5783