Ki Teitzei: Productive Erasing

Destruction – even of an evil, in ourselves, or in a relationship, with a brother or an enemy – is only half the task. The real God- imitating work is in destroying in order to rebuild something better in ourselves, in our relationships and in the wider world.

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Hatred of Haters and Turbulent Branching of Thoughts

Put an end to the hatred of haters those who have made me their foe Search me out with shovel and torchlight, God know my heart by means of compassion. Understand the turbulent branching of my thoughts. See the road that brings me sadness, and lead me instead on the path of eternal life. — […]

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Learning to See

Where one lives plays a crucial role in determining access to opportunity, and learning to see “opportunity” and its effects is an important part of understanding our world and how to pursue justice in it. “Opportunity mapping,” a creation of the Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University, helps us visualize access to education, health, employment, […]

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Word- and Picture-Power

This season reminds us – even if we didn’t have recent events screaming reminders at us – that words, and related mind-pictures have tremendous power.

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Grass Roots: a holiday question and memorial reflection

As we approach the high holidays, grass shows up in two haftarah readings. What do these verses tell us in this season of repentance and return? I am pondering. Meanwhile, a recent yahrzeit called to mind the sweetness of grass as well as its transient nature. Does that, too, carry a message for the high […]

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Broken-Heartedness and the Days of Awe

One common, powerful theme of the high holidays is the idea of the broken heart. This is encapsulated prominently in the blowing of the shofar, with its shevarim [shattered] call. (See, e.g., The Shofar as Prayer at My Jewish Learning.) All who hear the ram’s horn — during the preparatory month of Elul and the […]

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Morning: Blessing, with Echo of Gunshots

How lovely are these tents! not far from housing that has seen better days and housing that has seen too many awful ones. I love the place of Your house, reached through streets collecting cigarette butts, the odd chicken wing, echoes of homicide. Through Your abundant love, I enter Your house, where these peaceful walls […]

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Who Is a Jew and how would the Forward recognize her?

UPDATE, 11/15, 13:36: Both the Jewish Telegraph Agency and the Forward have replaced the original photo with different ones: JTA’s article is now accompanied by a photo of an open Torah held by jacketed arms, adorned with a prayer shawl; the Forward‘s new photo shows three males in kippot (head coverings) with dreidels (Chanukah tops). […]

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Yet More on Psalm 27 (3 of 4)

The close of Psalm 27 — קַוֵּה, אֶל-יְהוָה: חֲזַק, וְיַאֲמֵץ לִבֶּךָ; וְקַוֵּה, אֶל-יְהוָה. Hope in the LORD; strengthen yourself, let your heart take courage, and hope in the Lord [Psalm 27:14] — is often cited as a motivational aphorism, particularly for the penitential season. This is its role in this meditation for Elul, for example. […]

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