Korach and Dysfunctional Systems

Why are Moses and Aaron, and God, unable to hear the people’s desperation and anger, in the face of completely failed expectations? And what is our job…How might better listening, and closer attention to circumstances behind complaints and rebellion, change things?

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Balak, Dead50, and Frederick Douglass

The U.S. was in a “lingering period of childhood,” said Frederick Douglass on the occasion of Independence Day in 1852. “Were the nation older, the patriot’s heart might be sadder, and the reformer’s brow heavier. Its future might be shrouded in gloom, and the hope of its prophets go out in sorrow. There is consolation […]

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Tzipporah’s Eye View at the DC Sermon Slam

I have always lived among priests and prophets. I know that some divine encounters prove more terrifying than illuminating. And I believe there is much to be learned about Revelation by turning away from Sinai’s thunder and lightening. Consider for a moment that time Miriam and Aaron complained about Moses and his black wife and […]

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Purposefully Blue

The peculiar blue [תכלת, tekhelet] thread used in tzitzit [ritual fringes] (Numbers 15:37-41) also appears prominently in the construction of Tabernacle (Exodus 25ff). It is used in the inner curtains and the loops that connect them; it also appears throughout the priestly vestments. Why this blue? It has been taught: R. Meir used to say: […]

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“You set the patterns of the moon”

El Adon and Another Pinchas Addendum … (5) Glory and honor they give to You glowing praises to Your rule You call to the sun and it gives forth light You set the patterns of the moon (6) You are honored throughout the heavens with songs of glory and praise [the Seraphim, Ophanim and holy […]

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More on Mouse: Pinchas, part 2

More on Mouse [addendum to dvar Torah, “Pinchas and the Scary Friend”] Many hard-boiled detectives have their “scary friend.” But Ezekiel (Easy) Rawlins’ friend Raymond (Mouse), is something else again. Mouse is written by Walter Mosley as a true psychopath. To illustrate: At one point early in the series, Easy asks why Mouse has just […]

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Pinchas and the scary friend

My original plan, when I was assigned Parashat Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1) to offer a dvar Torah, was to skip over Pinchas and his spear and the matter of God and human vengeance. But that’s not how things worked out. I was drawn in to the Pinchas story first by a brief commentary: And Israel attached […]

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Robe, River, and Bond in Morning Prayer

Wrapping The early morning section of a Jewish prayer book focuses — with some variety in content and order (see below) — on wraps: God is robed in majesty (Psalms 104:1-2). Jews are wrapped in fringes (blessing for wearing a tallit [prayer shawl]). Humans take refuge in the shadow of divine wings (Psalms 36:8-11). The […]

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Sibling Prophets Together Before God

This post originally appeared on Clergy Beyond Borders’ News/Views blog, June 9, 2011. Sibling prophets argue but find a way to remain together in the third Bible portion in our “wilderness” series. The reading — Numbers 8:1-12:16 — includes a dramatic, rather cryptic, passage* involving the prophet Miriam, sister of Moses, covered in “scales, white […]

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