Courses of Grief

Courses of Grief

Jul 15, 2016 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Hukkat

Bereft, I combed through the grass in Central Park at dusk when I realized I had lost my late husband’s house keys. Yes, on some level, I knew it wasn’t about the keys. His sudden death two months earlier had devastated me in much more profound ways. And yet, I felt desperate to find those keys!

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Both Sides of Forgiveness

Both Sides of Forgiveness

Jul 2, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Hukkat

This far into Numbers, we are inured to the Israelites’ complaints. The complaint of Numbers 21 takes place in five quick verses and stands out more for the unusual bit about the snakes than it does for the fact or content of the Israelites’ gripe.

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Words Are Sacred

Words Are Sacred

Jul 12, 2003 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Balak | Hukkat

Words are sacred. I remember the sanctity of words being inculcated in me as a high school student. My history teacher, Mr. Reilly, an admired, knowledgeable and articulate pedagogue (not to even mention his black belt in karate), instilled within us the fear of God with regard to proper attribution of words. His definition of plagiarism was ‘two or more words copied and unattributed.’ I remember being shocked by this Puritan definition, but it also instilled a respect for the written word. So valued are words that numerous violations, in addition to plagiarism, are attributed to their misuse. On occasions, words are distorted – in transmission, either knowingly or unknowingly; such distortion leads to the promulgation of lies and deception. And words are used to hurt – to curse, to destroy, and to instigate.

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What Happens to Us After We Die?

What Happens to Us After We Die?

Jun 22, 2002 By Lauren Eichler Berkun | Commentary | Balak | Hukkat

We are challenged to reflect upon death when we read parashat Hukkat/Balak. Our double parashah begins with the elaborate purification ritual for one who has come into contact with a corpse; it ends with Pinchas’ zealous killing of an Israelite man and Midianite woman; and in the middle we learn about the deaths of both Miriam and Aaron. As we confront mortality throughout our Torah reading, it is natural to question Jewish views of the afterlife – a topic which has been the subject of many books of late.

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The Death of Miriam

The Death of Miriam

Jun 19, 1994 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Hukkat

Biblical narrative begs for reader participation. Time and again we come across a story short on context, background and human emotions, traces of an event barely recalled and crying out for elucidation. This week’s parasha contains a gem of an example.

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Making Peace on High and on Earth

Making Peace on High and on Earth

Jun 22, 2002 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Hukkat

Some years ago, during a visit to Japan, I met with a sociology professor at Tokyo University. She mentioned that she had just returned from her first trip to Israel, and I asked what her impressions were. The professor paused for a moment and then said — “The Israelis, they argue a great deal.”

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The Torah’s Lesson for Effective Leadership

The Torah’s Lesson for Effective Leadership

Jul 12, 1997 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Hukkat

Death hangs heavy over this week’s parasha. We are nearing the end of Israel’s forty–year trek into the wilderness. In quick succession, Miriam dies without forewarning or fanfare, God judges Moses and Aaron as unfit to bring Israel to its promised destination and Aaron expires after transferring his priestly authority to his son Elazar. The proximity of these related stories inspired the midrashic imagination to join them into a conception of integrated leadership.

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On Writing Torah Commentaries

On Writing Torah Commentaries

Jul 9, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Hukkat

As I begin my twentieth and final year as Chancellor, I am mindful of the cautionary verse from Proverbs, wisely inserted by our sages in the morning liturgy: “Many are the designs of the human heart, but in the end, it is God’s plan that will prevail.”

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