Category: Midrash

Hebrew for “delving,” specifically of a religious text. In this context, the text is also life.

First Graf: Path of the Just

MUSSAR (מוסר) IS A HEBREW TERM usually translated as “ethical behavior/discipline,” or to put it more succinctly, the fine art and science of being a mensch. Its roots are almost as old as Judaism itself — according to Genesius, it’s…

A Torah of Fire

“If you have learned much Torah, do not take credit for yourself — for that is why you were created.” — Pirkei Avot IT’S OFTEN OVER MY HEAD, but there’s an eight-page “parsha sheet” (Torah-commentary newsletter) I have been following…

I’m Ed, He’s Johnny

FOR MOST OF THIS YEAR, I have been co-hosting a weekly radio show every Thursday afternoon with my rabbi (and showhost), Steve Finley. It’s billed as the Sonoma Valley Interfaith Ministerial Association Radio Hour, and is an exploration of different…

History Lesson: Chain

“Everything you do, here and at home, is part of Sonoma Valley Jewish history.” That’s what I used to tell the students in our synagogue’s Hebrew school, and it’s also one of the lessons from this week’s Torah portion, Ki…

Lamed-Vavniks, Unite!

Are you a Lamed-Vavnik? According to Jewish tradition, there are 36 exceptionally righteous (read: supermensch-like) people in the world in each generation, and without whom the world would cease to exist. (In Hebrew counting, 36 is “lamed vav” (lamed =…

Confronting Evil

(From a friend, for Yom Hashoah/Holocaust Remembrance Day.) April 15, 1965 יוסף דוב סולוביצ’יק JOSEPH SOLOVEITCHIK Dear Dr. Vogel: I received your letter. Of course, you may quote me. The gist of my discourse was that Judaism did not approach…

Midrash Beshallach

WORF: These are our stories. They tell us who we are. BA’EL: …Are they true? WORF: I have studied them all of my life, and find new truths in them every time. — “Birthright,” Star Trek: The Next Generation Here’s…