Shabbat Shuvah: Jonah the Elder Brother

On Yom Kippur afternoon we read the story of Jonah, whom God commands to call Nineveh to repentance. After a few digressions, Jonah eventually preaches to them and they repent. Not only do the people fast but even their animals. And Hashem forgives them and their destruction is averted. This is read on Yom Kippur because it demonstrates the power of repentance; significant for us on the Day of Repentance and Atonement. We come before Hashem confessing our sin but we are confident that He is not only a Righteous King but a Loving Father, eager to restore His communion with us. But, of course, we all know that Jonah initially refused his task and fled from Hashem. God eventually brings him bac

Rosh Hashanah: Chana's Prayer

Traditionally, the readings for the first day of Rosh Hashanah are about the birth of Isaac and then those for the second day are about the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac. Since we only have services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we decided to read the passages for the second day because the Akedah more directly relates to the day. So tomorrow morning our Haftorah reading is from Jeremiah chapter 31 instead of 1 Samuel chapter 1. But I’d like to discuss tonight this passage and its message for Rosh Hashanah. 1 Samuel relates the story of Chana, Samuel’s mother. She is married to Elkanah who also has a second wife, Peninah. Peninah has children but Chana is childless. Most likely the situa

5781 Shabbat Shuvah & Ha'azinu

You are extremely blessed. No. Seriously. I wrote two sermons for this morning so go get some coffee. Seriously I really did. I wrote the first one and then decided it didn’t fit with the fact that Parasha Ha’azinu is also Shabbat Shuvah this year. So, I started over and wrote a second sermon that I thought was more appropriate for this Sabbath of Repentance. Perhaps I’ll post the first one on our website or actually, maybe I’ll just save it for next year when Ha’azinu falls on the Shabbat after Yom Kippur. Okay, so… What is the relationship between Parashat Ha’azinu and Shabbat Shuvah? More specifically, what does Moshe’s song have to do with teshuvah? Jewish tradition teaches us to engage

Nitzavim-Vayelech: The Great Commission Reinterpreted

In our Besorah reading today, we read the final verses written by the Talmid Matityahu, the disciple Matthew, of Yeshua’s final words to the Talmidim after his resurrection. Verse 19 and the beginning of 20 were translated this way in the Complete Jewish Bible. Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim, immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach HaKodesh, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. A less Jewish translation like the New King James Version would say it like this: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them

Ki Teitzei - Amalek, Yibum, and the Vulnerable

Good morning. This parsha contains one of the most troubling mitzvot in the entire Torah: Mechiyat Amalek – the command to erase the memory of Amalek from the face of the earth. So I don’t know about you, but I’ve wondered what this verse, what this mitzvah is supposed to mean for us today? It seems so brutal and violent. How could the same Torah that teaches that humanity is created in the Divine image, also command us to wipe out an entire nation? And, furthermore, today, when there is no nation of Amalek to speak of, how are we even supposed to relate to this mitzvah? Do we just say that it’s a remnant of a distant past? An archaic mitzvah that holds no relevance anymore? Or, is there som

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