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The 13 Middot: God Is Ethical and So Are We

The Torah reading for Chol HaMo-eid Pesach includes the 13 Attributes of God. The Eternal One passes before Moses and proclaims (according to the prayer book version of the passage): “Adonai, Adonai, a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, and granting pardon” (Mishkan T’filah, [NY: CCAR, 2007], p. 496). Here, God self-describes as an ethical being.

 

 

D'var Torah By: 
Fighting Injustice in the World and Worshiping the God of Israel
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman

Rabbi Sussman’s discussion of Hermann Cohen raises our awareness of the tension between the national and the humanist, between the specific God of Israel and the universal God of ethics. This tension is one that has animated my own Jewish learning: What did it mean to want to serve the good of humanity and the planet, yet pray to God in language that was specifically Jewish? How could I be widely inclusive and yet also protect the inherent integrity of tradition?

A Concrete Relationship with God

In Parashat Ki Tisa, the Israelites wait for Moses to return from the mountaintop. Feeling insecure with a lack of leadership, they tell Aaron to create a Golden Calf.

D'var Torah By: 
Religion as a Way to Reach Holiness
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Jason Rosenberg

One of the lessons of Parashat Ki Tisa is that we need concrete reminders, symbols, of our fundamental ideas. But while we embrace them we have to remember that these symbols — whether they be physical, ritual, textual, or other — exist for us, not for God. 

We All Will Die, But We Must Be Grateful

Sukkot is known in Rabbinic tradition as the "Festival of Our Joy" (Z'man Simchateinu, a name that derives from Leviticus 23:40: "You shall rejoice before the Eternal your God seven days"). Sukkot is the only festival for which the command to rejoice is given. It is a commandment — a mitzvah: us'mach'tem — "be happy!" 

D'var Torah By: 
The Sukkah and the Fragility of Peace
Davar Acher By: 
Neal Katz

Sukkot reminds me of the beautiful text of the Haskiveinu prayer in which we praise God for watching over us as we lie down for the evening. We also praise God for spreading over us a sukkah, or shelter, of peace. We close that prayer by blessing God, haporeis sukkat shalom aleinu, "whose shelter of peace is spread over us."

Can You Really Ask God That?

This week's Torah portion, Ki Tisainterrupts the description of the building of the Tabernacle with a long narrative section that includes the story of the Golden Calf, the smashing of the Ten Commandments, the carving of the second set of tablets, and — although perhaps less famously — the most chutzpadik (impertinent) question in the whole Torah.

The question comes after Moses has negotiated twice with God on behalf of the Israelites: first, with moderate success, when he asks God to forgive the people for the sin of the idolatrous Golden Calf; and second, when he successfully convinces God to lead the Israelites along the next stage of their journey.

But Moses' next negotiation with God is not on behalf of the Israelites, but for himself. Out of the blue, it seems, just as God has acceded to his second request, Moses speaks up again. "Oh, let me behold Your Presence!" he says to God (Exodus 33:18).

D'var Torah By: 
Anger and the Voice of (Almost) Reason
Davar Acher By: 
Rachel Ackerman

The dance between Moses and God is always a complicated one, and Ki Tisa offers us no exception.

Just as Moses nears the end of his 40 days and nights atop Mount Sinai and finishing touches are being put on the tablets, God urges Moses to hurry down the mountain because God wants to be left alone to destroy the Israelites for having built the Golden Calf.

But Moses begs God not to destroy these people, telling God that doing so would bring into question God's motives in the first place and make God out to be evil. And God relents to Moses.

So, What’s the Point? Ecclesiastes and Chol HaMo-eid Sukkot

Chances are that many of us are familiar only with the section of Ecclesiastes that begins "To everything there is a season," only because we've heard it at a funeral or – thanks to the late

D'var Torah By: 
Finding a Hopeful Message in Kohelet
Davar Acher By: 
Brian I. Michelson

It is all useless, Kohelet said, it is all useless. Everything is useless. (Ecclesiastes 1:2)1

Shabbat: Positives and Negatives

The last instruction that Moses receives on Mount Sinai, before God gives him the inscribed tablets, before the incident of the Golden Calf, is the reminder about the importance of the sabbath.

D'var Torah By: 
Moses's Glow Reflects Pride of Accomplishment
Davar Acher By: 
Aaron Benjamin Bisno

Moses ascended and descended Mount Sinai not once but twice.

Sukkot: The Season of Our Joy

The Torah reading for the Shabbat of Sukkot (Exodus 33:12–34:26) includes the reconciliation between God and Moses following the Golden Calf, the inscription of the second set of the Ten Commandmen

D'var Torah By: 
Translating an Invitation to Relationship
Davar Acher By: 
Ilana Schwartzman

In the Torah portion for Chol HaMo-eid Sukkot, God commands Moses to, "Lead this people forward," (Exodus 33:12) through the wilderness.

Ki Tavo: The Power of a Story

Long ago, in the days when we were farmers and shepherds in the Land of Israel, the Torah taught us that when we harvested our crops, we were to put the first fruits of our harvest in a basket and

D'var Torah By: 
Striving To Be Human
Davar Acher By: 
Robin Nafshi

I write these words in late July 2014, as Israel is in the midst of war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Loss of life of Palestinian civilians and IDF soldiers is mounting, and it pains me deeply.

A New Look at the Seder

As someone who has spent over forty years as a Jewish educator, I have always been fascinated by the Pesach seder.

D'var Torah By: 
Redemption: Reflections on the Second Night of Pesach
Davar Acher By: 
Ron Symons

I used to love having two s'darim.

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