Patriot: Derived from the Greek word patrios; “of one’s father”
It is impossible not to see the clearest of analogies in this week’s Torah portion. Esau is strong, “Red”, bearded, ‘manly’, a hunter and avid outdoorsman with little use for philosophical education or domestic pursuits, or other people, for that matter. He is unmannered, unkind and brutish, easily swayed to idolotry, but he maintains a deep love for and admiration of his father, Isaac. …
Rabbi Jonathan Siger
A version of this essay appears in INSCRIBED: Encounters with the Ten Commandments; Rabbi Oren Hayon, Editor; C.C.A.R. Press, 2020.
“You Shall Not Murder”
One thing about police-involved shootings is that they tend to happen really quickly. Police officers have about a second and a half to get a sense of whether or not they are in danger, to draw their gun, and to get it on target.
If you’re a police officer, by the time you see a gun pointed at you, you’re already in big trouble. It takes less than half a second…
A HOMILY FOR LAG BaOMER
This coming Monday, at sunset, the 33rd day of counting the Omer will be upon us. Up until this point, beginning with the second night of Passover, the Jewish people have been in a state of semi-mourning, restricting ourselves and consciously meditating upon the needs of the spirit in contrast to the desires of our physical being. The ancient superstition had us modify our behavior so that the weather would cooperate while the Spring barley grew; a good harvest depended on Winter rains holding off but the Summer heat also staying away. From the ‘narrow…
Before there were rabbis, there were generations of Jewish spiritual leaders, known as zugot, which means ‘pairs’. There were two leaders, one served as chief justice and the other was president of the Sanhedrin, the deliberative body that oversaw the Jewish community.
The best known of these pairs, and the last, were Hillel and Shammai. You may know Hillel as he was the formulator of “the Golden Rule” in Jewish tradition: “If something seems hateful to you, don’t do that thing to anyone else.” This in itself is solid advice in general and especially on the eve of Yom Kippur…
Delivered at Congregation Jewish Community North, Spring, Texas
Fish Heads. Fish. Heads.
Roly-Poly Fish Heads.
Fish Heads, Fish Heads. Eat them up, Yum.
(Barnes and Barnes, “Fish Heads”, 1979)
It is a tradition in some Jewish communities to serve fish heads at Rosh HaShana. More than a delicacy, it is a symbol of good luck — for everyone but the fish, I suppose. But even there, in the romantic mind of our tradition, it is considered a blessing for something destined to be eaten to be eaten by people who appreciate the sacrifice and use it to sanctify G-d’s creation.
Houston National Cemetery Memorial Day Commemoration 2019
ALMIGHTY God, Maker of All, Creator and Fashioner of anything we have or shall;
BE with us this hour. We assemble in solemn commemoration of the sacrifice of our brothers and sisters; human beings like ourselves, who, unlike ourselves, died in service to our nation.
WE gather to do honor to their memory. To remember them not for what they represent but for who they were. It is easier to see them as rows of markers, tablets of stone, Standing fast, silent, and strong. …
On Speech: A Homily for Parashat Chayei Sarah, for the fallen of Pittsburgh’s Jewish Community. Delivered at Congregation Jewish Commmunity North, Spring, Texas.
All over the United States of America this evening, in thousands of sanctuaries and chapels, the Jewish People have assembled with their friends. We have done so to commemorate and celebrate the creation of this world, to honor and praise the One who fashioned it, and to recognize and share the blessings which we have received.
The foundation of our ancient faith rests on the idea of commandment; obligations we carry as a result of a covenant…