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Rosh Hashanah Day Two 5778/2017: The Missing Pieces

There are a few things missing from the Torah portion we read today, the Akedah, the story of the binding and near sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham, but two stand out to my mind in particular, both coming … Continue reading

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Rosh Hashanah Day One 5778/2017: Moses and Polytheism

My son, Efraim, seldom strikes me as more Jewish than when he says the following words: “I don’t want to go to Hebrew School.” This past Sunday, I took him for his first day. He was in the once-a-month, parent-child … Continue reading

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Judy Davis’s D’var Torah for Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot

Judy Davis D’var 2016 (Ki Tissa, Sh’mot Exodus 33:12-34:26 (D’vorim/Deuteronomy 16:13-17) Hope in the Desert Good Shabbos, everyone. This is the third time I’m speaking on this special parashat for Succoth. The first time I did it, for my 60th … Continue reading

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YK Day 5777/2016: On Responsibility

4. On Responsibility I wasn’t always a rabbi. I used to be a child, and when I was a kid, the High Holiday services I went to were very long. We did the whole book, and took pride in that … Continue reading

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Kol Nidre 5777/2016: On Purity

3. On Purity This is a tale of the Kotsker Rebbe, may his memory be a blessing. In a little Jewish town, in a ramshackle hut by the river, there lived a poor watercarrier. Every day but Shabbes he would … Continue reading

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RH Day Two 5777/2016: On Fear

2. On Fear I begin with my standard Akedah disclaimer. I know that the story we read this morning, on the face of it, is disturbing, and even obscene. When we take stock of our world today, and consider who … Continue reading

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RH Day One 5777/2016: On Laughter

On Laughter This year, in the droughty Pioneer Valley, it has been a little easier than usual to imagine what Israel looks like at Rosh Hashanah. In the Middle East, climate change notwithstanding, the seasons are divided simply between wet … Continue reading

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Richard Cohen’s d’var Torah from 1/2/16: “Hatan Damim”

Shabbat shalom and happy New Year. What I’ll be talking about is the enigmatic episode in parshat Shemot of Hatan Damim, the “Bridegroom of Blood,” which appears at Exodus 4:24-26. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to warn … Continue reading

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Kol Nidre Sermon: “The Whiskey Story”

The early mornings have become our time, though we approach them differently, each according to his station.  I usually wake just before dawn, to the sound of the roosters.  My mind is preoccupied with the need to arrange itself delicately … Continue reading

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Rosh Hashanah Day One 5776/2015: The Honey Sermon

Of all the animals on my farm, only the bees cannot truly be called domesticated.  I don’t have to wear a protective suit when I milk the goats, or puff smoke at the chickens when I take eggs from the … Continue reading

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