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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...

Rosh Hashanah 5780 Day 2: Cup of Gratitude

10/02/2019 12:22:33 AM


As you may know, I spend an hour at Starbucks once a week in an attempt to make myself accessible to the congregation and the broader community. Now, for a shameless plug"please come by any Thursday from 8-9am to chat. While I often do end up speaking with someone, I also spend a lot of time watching people come in and out to get their morning coffee. Most people seem to want to get in and out as quickly as possible. And nowadays, with the...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 5780 Day 1: Faith Over Fear

10/02/2019 12:21:37 AM


I had many expectations for going in to this first year at KTI and of my rabbinate. I expected to celebrate happy moments and mourn during sad ones. I expected to learn and to teach. I expected to meet lots of people and bring them into my life. But I did not expect that, only a few months into the job, I would have to throw together a vigil in response to the worst act of antisemitic violence in American history. I did not expect to have to...Read more...

Eikev 5779: From "Them" to "Us"

08/25/2019 02:23:51 PM


There's an image that has made the rounds in recent months in Jewish spaces online. It's a still from an online video series that teaches basic Yiddish. As a sample sentence to demonstrate some grammatical point, it flashes the phrase, “the Jews are tired.” And boy, am I tired after this week. I'm tired of dealing with everything that comes with being a Jew in America in 2019. I'm tired of the low-grade anxiety I have every day that my...Read more...

Mas'ei 5779: Cities of Refuge

08/09/2019 03:04:41 PM


This week, the attorney general announced a change in the interpretation in US asylum law. As you may know, under federal law, someone seeking asylum must prove a credible fear of persecution in his or her home country based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a specific social group. Since 1985, immigration courts, which are part of the Department of Justice, have interpreted “specific social group” to...Read more...
Thu, September 29 2022 4 Tishrei 5783