Covenant & Conversation

  • Keeping Our Word (Matot 5776)

    This week’s parsha opens with an account of the laws of vows and oaths. What is it doing here near the end of the book of Numbers, as the Israelites approach the destination of their journey to the promised land?… read more
  • The Complexity of Human Rights (Matot-Masei 5776)

    The book of Bamidbar comes to a close that is very strange indeed. Earlier in the parsha of Pinchas we read of how the five daughters of Tzelophehad came to Moses with a claim based on justice and human rights.[1]… read more
  • Moses’ Disappointment (Pinchas 5776)

    Hidden beneath the surface of parshat Pinchas the sages uncovered a story of great poignancy. Moses, having seen his sister and brother die, knew that his own time on earth was coming to a close. He prayed to God to… read more
  • What Makes God Laugh (Balak 5776)

    There is an old saying that what makes God laugh is seeing our plans for the future.[1] However, if Tanakh is our guide, what makes God laugh is human delusions of grandeur. From the vantage point of heaven, the ultimate… read more
  • Healing the Trauma of Loss (Chukat 5776)

    It took me two years to recover from the death of my father, of blessed memory. To this day, almost twenty years later, I am not sure why. He did not die suddenly or young. He was well into his… read more
  • Hierarchy and Politics: The Never-Ending Story (Korach 5776)

    It was a classic struggle for power. The only thing that made it different from the usual dramas of royal courts, parliamentary meetings or corridors of power was that it took place in Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem, Holland, and the… read more
  • Two Kinds of Fear (Shelach Lecha 5776)

    One of the most powerful addresses I ever heard was given by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, on this week’s parsha: the story of the spies. For me, it was nothing less than life-changing. He asked the obvious… read more
  • From Despair to Hope (Beha’alotecha 5776)

    There have been times when one passage in today’s parsha was for me little less than life-saving. No leadership position is easy. Leading Jews is harder still. And spiritual leadership can be hardest of them all. Leaders have a public… read more
  • The Blessing of Love (Naso 5776)

    At 176 verses, Naso is the longest of the parshiyot. Yet one of its most moving passages, and the one that has had the greatest impact over the course of history, is very short indeed and is known by almost… read more
  • The Sound of Silence (Bamidbar 5776)

    Bamidbar is usually read on the Shabbat before Shavuot. So the sages connected the two. Shavuot is the time of the giving of the Torah. Bamibar means, “In the desert.” What then is the connection between the desert and the… read more