A Call for Hope

A Call for Hope

Sep 10, 2011 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Rosh Hashanah

In the face of a litany of personal, societal, and global woes that has seemed particularly long this year; in the face of our nation’s inability to shake the economy loose or defeat our enemies or work together despite our differences, the Jewish calendar insists there is something new in store—or that there can be, if we together do as the Torah commands.

Read More
Conflicted Relationships

Conflicted Relationships

Nov 25, 2011 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Toledot

At the start of this week’s parashah, and again at its conclusion, we confront the complex, conflicted relationship that binds Isaac’s twin sons to one another and to their father. The middle section of the parashah, by contrast, is concerned with the no less complex and conflicted relationship that binds Isaac and his family to their neighbors.

Read More
The Whimsy, Confusion, and Hope of Purim

The Whimsy, Confusion, and Hope of Purim

Feb 11, 2012 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Purim

Purim is probably the most confusing of all Jewish holidays.

Read More
Standing with Moses on the Mountaintop

Standing with Moses on the Mountaintop

Feb 18, 2012 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Mishpatim | Shabbat Shekalim

Readers of Mishpatim cannot fail to be struck by the contrast between the main body of the parashah and its conclusion. The former consists for the most part of rather dry case law, covering such things as goring oxen, robbery by day and by night, and release from indentured servitude. The end of the parashah could not be more different in subject and tone.

Read More
For Our Students

For Our Students

Mar 31, 2012 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Shabbat Hagadol

I got valuable help this year in writing my annual Shabbat Hagadol message to teens and 20-somethings from six teens and 20-somethings who are studying at The Jewish Theological Seminary’s Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies.

Read More
Filling Life with Life

Filling Life with Life

May 5, 2012 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

“The deeds of the ancestors are a sign for their descendants,” said the medieval commentator Nahmanides. Sometimes it seems that the weekly Torah portion captures the situation of our generation with remarkable prescience. So it is with Aharei Mot-Kedoshim.

Read More
The Humanity of Moses

The Humanity of Moses

Jun 30, 2012 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Hukkat

Readers of the Torah suspect that, by this point in his long life, Moses does not much care for the work he does so selflessly. He seems worn down by the incessant kvetching of his people, and has long since grown used to the inscrutability of the God he loves and serves. We are drawn to this man. We want to know him and learn from him. In this way as in so many others, he accomplishes the Torah’s wishes, if not God’s. He draws us into the story, and makes us proud to be its heirs.

Read More
How to Love Yom Kippur

How to Love Yom Kippur

Sep 12, 2012 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Yom Kippur

The importance of “permission to pray with those who have transgressed,” recited immediately before chanting Kol Nidrei, is underlined in some congregations by the practice of repeating the words three times for added emphasis. The declaration clearly has enormous rhetorical power. But what does it mean? How can these words, this claim, help propel us forward into Kol Nidrei and beyond?

Read More