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Yom Kippur / Yizkor 2023: Love is Like a braid

09/26/2023 11:08:29 AM


Rabbi Ben Goldberg

To everyone’s surprise, including his own, the musician Paul Simon put out a new album this past spring. He thought he was done writing music, but one night, he awoke from a dream with the unshakable message from, well, somewhere, that he was to work on a project called Seven Psalms. He continued in this manner, rising in the middle of the night to jot down words that came to him, until he had written seven psalms. 

The...

Kol Nidrei 2023: High Eyes

09/26/2023 11:07:05 AM


Rabbi Ben Goldberg

Exactly 50 years ago today, the State of Israel faced an existential threat. While the KTI community assembled in this very room to observe Yom Kippur, including some people who are still with us today, Israelis faced their own “who will live and who will die” moment. In a surprising move, Israel found itself facing simultaneous attacks from Syria in the north and from Egypt in the west, an attack that caught most Israelis by surprise,...Read more...

Enough (Rosh Hashanah Day 2 2023)

09/18/2023 09:46:12 AM


Rabbi Ben Goldberg

Last fall, you may remember, we at KTI held our long-delayed tag sale. Back in the spring of 2020, knowing that many people were using the extra time at home to clean out unneeded belongings, we invited people to bring their tag sale items to the synagogue, planning, it turned out naively, to hold our biannual tag sale as scheduled in the fall of 2020. Well, people plan and God laughs. We kept delaying the sale, and stuff kept accumulating in...Read more...

Loneliness and Belonging (Rosh Hashanah Day 1 2023)

09/18/2023 09:37:54 AM


Rabbi Ben Goldberg

Today, on Rosh Hashanah, you all see me standing here on the bimah. But that actually gives a misleading impression of what most of my days are like. On a typical day, I might go read a book to the children in our Early Childhood Program. They mostly pay attention, but it’s a long day, and they are only 3 or 4 years old, and sometimes they have trouble listening. Then, I might go teach our seventh graders in Religious School. They mostly...Read more...

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...

Mon, April 15 2024 7 Nisan 5784