“My Heart Is in the East”

“My Heart Is in the East”

Jul 22, 2006 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Masei | Mattot

The stirring words of the medieval poet of Zion, Yehudah HaLevi, echo through each and every generation: “My heart is in the East, and I am in the far reaches of the West.”

Read More
Our Hope and Despair

Our Hope and Despair

Jul 18, 2009 By Mychal Springer | Commentary | Masei | Mattot | Tishah Be'av

We are now in the period known as the Three Weeks: the weeks between the fast of the seventeenth of Tammuz, which marks the day the outer walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Babylonians, and the ninth of Av, when the Babylonians destroyed the Temple. These weeks are the low point of the year. In a dramatic reversal of the ordinary mourning process, which begins in its starkest intensity and lifts over time as the mourners are comforted, these weeks of mourning increase in intensity as they move, inevitably, to the destruction of God’s house and the banishment of the people into exile. The prophetic readings drive home that we have brought this horrible tragedy on ourselves. This week’s haftarah, from chapter 2 of Jeremiah, is the second of three haftarot of affliction. Jeremiah chastises the people for having strayed from God and God’s Torah. 

Read More
The Question of Fracking

The Question of Fracking

Aug 2, 2008 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Masei

Golda Meir famously quipped: “Let me tell you the one thing I have against Moses. He took us forty years into the desert in order to bring us to the one place in the Middle East that has no oil!”

Read More
Finding Holiness in the Wilderness of Life

Finding Holiness in the Wilderness of Life

Aug 18, 2012 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Masei | Mattot

That life is ever changing makes us curious, grateful, wary. How are we to navigate the ‎uncertainty in a way that makes us feel rewarded?

Read More
At Home, Running for Cover

At Home, Running for Cover

Jul 25, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Masei

The past month has been a time of great emotion and tension for those of us living in Israel. From the moment that Naftali Fraenkel (z”l), Gilad Sha’ar (z”l), and Eyal Yifrach (z”l) were kidnapped, there was a sense of foreboding that overtook the country.

Read More
Cities of Refuge

Cities of Refuge

Jul 17, 2015 By Tim Daniel Bernard | Commentary | Masei | Mattot

Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau, the City of Refuge, on Hawaii’s Big Island was functional into the early 19th century, when kapu, Hawaii’s system of ritual taboos, was overturned by King Kamehameha II. Until that time, many breaches of the kapu could result in death, including for an offence as ephemeral as allowing your shadow to fall over a chief’s house. However, by entering a pu`uhonua (a place of refuge), often by swimming across a bay, and performing a ritual facilitated by the priest there, the punishment could be annulled.

Read More
“On the Road”

“On the Road”

Jul 30, 2011 By Marc Wolf | Commentary | Masei

Standing at the precipice of the Promised Land, Moshe looks back with the people and relates their journey with the same sweeping overview that Sal Paradise narrates. “These were the marches of the Israelites who started out from the land of Egypt, troop by troop, in the charge of Moses and Aaron” (33:1). What follows through the first half of the parashah is a virtual Trip Tik of the journeys of the children of Israel.

Read More
To Listen and to Discern

To Listen and to Discern

Jul 3, 2013 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Masei | Mattot

Parashat Mattot,the first of the two parashiyot this week, opens and closes with the idea of meaningful and thoughtful communication.

Read More
Life’s Journeys

Life’s Journeys

Jul 25, 2014 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Masei

In a few weeks, thousands of US high school students will leave home to begin college or a gap year of study and/or service before entering college.

Read More
Boundary of the Wilderness

Boundary of the Wilderness

Jul 10, 2010 By Alan Mintz (<em>z”l</em>) | Commentary | Masei | Mattot

The Torah is replete with lists of every kind: the generations before and after Noah, the enumeration of the tribes and their chieftains in the desert, the catalogs of forbidden foods, the inventories of priestly garments.

Read More