D'var Torah Eikev- Israel is our land now but have we read the fine print?

"For the Eternal, your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams  and springs and fountains issuing forth from plain and hill"-Devarim(Deuteronomy) 8:7

"The big print giveth and the fine print taketh away"-Fulton J.Sheen, Catholic Bishop, and Theologian

In this week's parashah we are reminded by Moses that we are about to enter the Promised Land of what will become Eretz Israel(The Land of Israel) under our rule but at the same time as being reminded we are about to enter we also are reminded that we did not gain this land because we were righteous much more so the opposite of such Moses even goes as far to say we only gained it through the merits of our ancestors and that we are a people that make God angry.I see within this parashah many parallels to the debate over Modern Israel and its existence.As a Zionist myself I do believe in a Jewish State but I feel other Zionists including those who lead the present Coalition Government leave out the …

D'var Torah Mattot-Massei- Drive-By Progressivism :Recognizing it and combating it in our day

"Moses said did you allow the women to live."-Bamidbar 31:15

"A neo-liberal disaster is one generates a mass incarceration regime, who deregulates banks and markets, who promotes chaos of regime change in Libya, supports military coups in Honduras undermines some of the magnificent efforts of Haiti of working people, and so forth."-Cornel West 

In last week's Parshah Pinchas we read from the Torah regarding the daughters of Zelophehad that they as women were able to inherit a portion from their father after he died(Bamidbar 27:1-8).In reading this last week it seems like a very early win for Women's Rights that these women inherited their father's land yet as much as last week's Parshah gave women the right to inherit property in this week's Parshah we read something quite different in regards to the Midianite women:

"(Moses)So now kill every male child intimately and every woman who can lie intimately with a man you shall kill.And all the you…

D'var Torah Pinchas-An Offering of Gratitude on Shabbat

"On the Sabbath day: two yearling lambs without blemish, together with two-tenths of a measure of choice flour with oil mixed in a meal offering, and with the proper libation-a burnt offering for every Sabbath, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its libation."-Bamidbar(Numbers) 28:9-10

"Acknowledging the good you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance."-Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to your life's purpose

 In this week's parashah Pinchas we read once again about offerings except for this time it is a recitation of the communal offerings. Out of these communal offerings, we read about the Musaf offering or the additional offerings that are made by the community on Shabbat (See above-Bamidbar 28:9-10).Today the Musaf constitutes an additional prayer service usually said after Shacharit(Morning Prayers)  . Reading this though I was not so reminded of the practice of Musaf but something I find equally profound.That being…

And There was Silence Once Again-A Statement on the treatment of gay men in Chechnya

"Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it"-George Santayana, Novelist

Once again society as in many times past has chosen to turn a blind eye to another Holocaust happening right in front of them.My own humanity calls me to scream that out that something is wrong and something must be done.As of the last count twenty-five, gay men have died in Chechnya that we know of much more are confined to concentration camps.As a Jew, a gay man myself and a member of our shared humanity I must loudly proclaim something must be done.

Elie Wiesel once said "I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation ........ Silence encourages the Tormenter, never the tormented". I am noting that as in the time Elie Wiesel endured the Shoah mostly only the Jewish News agencies were reporting on what Hitler was doing.Now in our time over Chechnya, it seems only our queer news agencies are reporting this atrocity.There is sile…

D'var Torah B'haalot'cha - The Importance of Healthy Boundaries and understanding your own in this time

"When the cloud rose up from the tent, the children of Israel would then travel.Wherever the cloud settled, that is where the children of Israel would encamp.Thus the children of Israel would traveled by the word of God.They remained encamped so long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle"-Bamidbar(Numbers) 9:17-18

"The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say 'No' to almost anything"-Warren Buffet, Corporate Magnate and Philanthropist

We read within this week's parashah that we would not need to know where to go as Jews to build the Mishkan because God would produce a cloud or flame of fire every time we would camp to direct us where to go.During this intense time of our lives, it would be very good to have this cloud. It seems as though we have forgotten our boundaries with each other as human beings. We kind of just give our opinions give our opinions no matter at times how much we think t…

Living Buddha,Living Torah D'var Torah-Witnessing and responding to nonduality in my own life

This D'var Torah marks the beginning of an annual D'var Torah I will give around the Buddha's Birthday each year which fell this year on May 10th. This annual D'var will discuss the intersectionality of Judaism and Buddhism in my own life.

"Be still and know that I am God"-Psalms 46:10

"As heterodox as it may sound, I find very little difference in the was-is-will-be (YHVH) and "the way things are" that is the Buddhist Dharma."-Jay Michaelson, Zen and the Art of the Buju.The Jewish Daily Forward, November 8, 2013

I think I am a BuJu but I am not so sure yet.I have started to take on some Buddhist practice alongside my own Jewish practice . In converting I recognized I had a lot of ritual but was losing heart fast. I didn't want to become one of those converts who became Orthodox because all I see in Orthodox Judaism is a lot of judgment of others which doesn't speak to the Torah I experience in my own life. Recognizing a need for mor…

49 Days of Torah-Day 10 : The Torah of Pharoah

"And a New Pharoah arose over Egypt"-Exodus 1:8

We cannot read Torah without reading about Pharoah but who is Pharoah?The first Pharoah we actually read about in Torah is a pretty good person. They turn Joseph into their Prime Minister and all . Give the people Israel a place to stay. That Pharoah is so different than the next Pharoah  The new Pharoah is a rough, hard taskmaster yet we know from the narrative he is a relative of Moses. We never read in the Torah that Pharoah ever rejects Pharoah. I wonder personally if Pharoah represents more the struggle of assimilation when we as Jews become good benefactors of it like Joseph or enslaved to it like the Israelites of Moses' time.I think Pharoah is the question of how Jewish are you? and how much we as Jews get stuck on identity issues.This is Pharoah to me what is your pharaoh?

How do you struggle with the Pharoah of assimilation?

Today is day 10 of the omer,One week of the Omer