The Angel at the Window

The Angel at the Window

Dec 23, 2014 By Lisa Gelber | Commentary | Vayehi

“What’s an angel? It’s a star that comes down from the sky at night to peek in your window . . . to make sure you’re sleeping and give you a little kiss on the head.”

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To What Shall We Return?

To What Shall We Return?

Aug 28, 2013 By Lisa Gelber | Commentary | Nitzavim | Vayeilekh

As we engage in teshuvah, (re)turning to the deep, soulful place hidden beneath the barriers we erect for others and ourselves, we must ask ourselves to what we are returning and how that relocation will manifest itself in our lives.

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Taking Time to Be There

Taking Time to Be There

Feb 6, 2013 By Lisa Gelber | Commentary | Mishpatim

Moses needs time to immerse himself in the law and his relationship with God. He needs to experience what it meant to climb this mountain, literally and figuratively. If he didn’t yet know that, God did.

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Moving Forward in Prayer, Together and Alone

Moving Forward in Prayer, Together and Alone

Sep 8, 2012 By Lisa Gelber | Commentary

Several weeks ago, I attended the West Point funeral of Major Thomas E. Kennedy, husband of my friend Kami. I’ve officiated at countless funerals and attended many others to comfort the bereaved. Although not my first military funeral, this was the first memorial for an officer I’d known personally, and my first visit to West Point.

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Filling Ourselves with Gratitude

Filling Ourselves with Gratitude

Jan 15, 2011 By Lisa Gelber | Commentary | Beshallah

I’ve spent the past year watching in awe as my daughter has gobbled up her bottles of formula. From the time she arrived home from the hospital until today, she has drunk that bottle with vigor. Now she is older and can hold the bottle herself; when she’s finished, she tosses it to the side with a flourish, a ceremonial conclusion to her meal. The process has been and continues to be amazing, awe-inspiring, and, admittedly, somewhat entertaining.

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Our Relationship to God

Our Relationship to God

May 10, 2010 By Lisa Gelber | Commentary | Behar | Behukkotai

As I chanted this verse from the end of Parashat B’har, over and over again, in preparation for reading Torah, it suddenly occurred to me how clear the Torah is about our relationship to God as slaves. Not so many weeks ago, we focused on our enslavement in Egypt. Think back to the Passover seder, where we sang Avadim Hayinu (We Were Slaves). Not to God; rather, l’Pharaoh b’meetzrayeem (to Pharaoh in Egypt). We know the story, and can name the oppressor. So if we were slaves to Pharaoh, and then God took us out of bondage—out of the narrow places, the straits of Egypt—what are we to do with this idea of our enslavement and servitude to God?

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How We Ascend the Mountain

How We Ascend the Mountain

Jul 19, 2008 By Lisa Gelber | Commentary | Pinehas

Not long ago, I set out in the middle of the night to ascend Haleakala, known as the world’s largest dormant volcano (actually, it’s not really a volcano, but that’s another conversation entirely).

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Our Partnership with God

Our Partnership with God

May 16, 2008 By Lisa Gelber | Commentary | Behar

Almost a year after the twenty-fifth anniversary, with current showings on TV Land promising the version with enhanced visual effects, never-before-seen footage, and a digitally remastered soundtrack, as well as videos and DVDs for watching at home whenever you wish, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial is a part of the cinematic culture of many more people than just the moviegoers of the early 1980s.

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Lighting the Darkness

Lighting the Darkness

Jan 11, 2008 By Lisa Gelber | Commentary | Bo

It’s difficult not to notice darkness at this time of year; so many of us set out for work in the dark and leave our places of business long after the sun has set.

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The Wisdom of the Wilderness

The Wisdom of the Wilderness

Nov 3, 2007 By Lisa Gelber | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

When I lived in Seattle, I set aside one day each summer to visit Mount Rainier National Park and hike some trails there.

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My Grandfather’s Tallit

My Grandfather’s Tallit

Jun 28, 2003 By Lisa Gelber | Commentary | Shelah Lekha

When I close my eyes to picture my grandfather, he is standing beside a long olive green bookcase, swaying and shokeling, his slight frame enfolded within his tallit, tefillin protruding from his forehead and wrapped about his arm, deeply engaged in conversation with God. At those moments, it always seemed that he had been transported to a different place and time. Perhaps it was that magic cape, I thought, the one with the strings attached. As a little girl, I yearned to wear a tallit, and so it is no surprise that some of my fondest childhood memories are of sitting with my grandfather in shul on Shabbat and sharing his tallit. Throughout the service, I would play with the tzitzit, enjoying the feel of the fringes as they slipped between my fingers, methodically adding new knots and removing them again before the conclusion of the service, each knot a blessing for myself or my family. My grandfather was a humble man, dedicated to his store, his family, and his God. He embodied a love for education and humanity. I knew that those cornerstones of his existence were somehow bound up within those carefully constructed knots.

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