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eJudaism: 48 & 49 - Torah, Shavuot (Part 8)

06/03/2022 09:30:18 AM

Jun3

Michael Greenfield

On the day of his death, Moses wrote 13 scrolls of Torah - one for each of the 12 Tribes and one to put in the ark - so that no one could secretly alter even one word. The sun, out of deference to Moses, refused to set that day while he still sat writing. And 2000 years before the Creation, we're told, the Torah was written with black fire on white fire, and then the world was created so that we could receive Torah, which is why Abraham,...Read more...

eJudaism: 47 - You, Shavuot (Part 7)

06/02/2022 07:00:00 AM

Jun2

Michael Greenfield

Shavuot is known as Z'man Matan Torateinu - the time of the giving of our Torah - and it's three days away. Yiscah Smith suggests that we understand this Hebrew phrase as follows:

The Torah was given on one day (Shavuot) by one God to one nation (the Children of Israel). But on every other day of the year, each person can decide how they want to receive it. And, however you receive it, that's how you'll reflect it back into the...Read more...

eJudaism: 46 - Rabbi Simlai, Micah, Rabbi Leon Morris, Shavuot (Part 6)

06/01/2022 07:00:00 AM

Jun1

Michael Greenfield

Even for the Sages, 613 commandments was a LOT of mitzvot to make sense of, which is why they spend many of the approximately two and a half million words of the Talmud trying to both elucidate mitzvot and also boil them down to some kind of essence. On page 23b of tractate Makkot of the Talmud, Rabbi Simlai splits the list in two: there were 613 mitzvot stated to Moses in the Torah, consisting of 365 prohibitions corresponding to the number...Read more...

eJudaism: 45 - Nelson Mandela, The Sages, Shavuot (Part 5)

05/31/2022 07:00:00 AM

May31

Michael Greenfield

Our Sages truly understood human foibles. Math? Not so much. The 10 Commandments includes at least 12, and that's not even counting the one that's just a statement. But we do have 613 mitzvot, right? Let's put it this way - we already ordered the stationary, we're not changing the house number.

What we can all agree on is that no one has ever fulfilled 613 of them. Some are understood to be impossible, some only apply to certain...Read more...

eJudaism: 43 - The Shechinah, The Velveteen Rabbi, Shavuot (Part 4)

05/29/2022 07:00:00 AM

May29

Michael Greenfield

We're in the final week of counting the Omer, those 49 days between Passover and Shavuot. Today is the forty-third day of the Omer, making six weeks and one day.

The Kabbalists tied different qualities of God to the different weeks of the Omer, and we've just entered the period connected to the Shechinah - the indwelling of God which is also God's feminine aspect. To celebrate the start of this week with the Shechinah, I'm sharing...Read more...

eJudaism: 42 - Casey Kasem, Shlomo Alkabetz, the Sabbath Bride, Shavuot (Part 3)

05/28/2022 07:00:00 AM

May28

Michael Greenfield

Coming in at #4 on the Top 10 Commandments chart is Remember (Zachor) the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Also coming in at #4 on the charts is Guard (Shamor) the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Those two tablets we got at Sinai on the first Shavuot - which was also a Shabbat! - show up twice in the Torah, once with Zachor, once with Shamor. Why?

Jewish tradition tells us that God spoke both words - Shamor/Zachor - simultaneously, and...Read more...

eJudaism: 41 - Luca Brasi, Doron Kavillio, Shavuot (Part 2)

05/27/2022 12:00:00 PM

May27

Michael Greenfield

When Don Corleone wanted Jack Woltz to get an offer he couldn't refuse, he dropped Luca Brasi - a mountain of a man - on top of him. The Don didn't know it, but he was taking a page from Midrash. After Moses reads the Book of the Covenant to the people, they respond by saying, "Na'aseh v'nishmah! We will do and we will hear!" Obeying first and understanding later? What gives?

According to the Midrash, the actual and biggest OG of...Read more...

eJudaism: 40 - Pete Best, George Lazenby, Shemp, Shavuot (Part 1)

05/26/2022 09:21:09 AM

May26

Michael Greenfield

Most people do a countdown to something exciting, but Jewish tradition goes the other way. Starting on the second night of Passover, we count up - day by day - for seven weeks. And then, after 49 days of ritualized counting, we hit the biggest Jewish holiday you're likely to forget.

Today is day 40 out of 49, which means we're just 10 days away from Shavuot, the holiday that celebrates the revelation at Mt. Sinai and the giving of...Read more...

Rabbi Sermon 5.6.22

05/12/2022 02:49:21 PM

May12

Abortion Rabbi David Levinsky   I simply cannot describe the range emotions that I felt when my phone alerted me to the possible overturning of Roe V. Wade. I felt fear for the women whose lives will be ruined. I felt anger at that men cannot let women make decisions for themselves, rather than trying to protect them with legislation. I felt sadness at the amount of suffering that this decision will bring into the world. When I...Read more...

eJudaism: You Had Me At "Bread of Affliction" (Part 4/4)

04/14/2022 06:30:04 AM

Apr14

Michael Greenfield

This is the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt; let all who are hungry enter and eat thereof. Here you go, have some bread of affliction. It's great with chunks of horseradish root. We also have greens dipped in the tears of our ancestors and a fruit & nut mixture that looks like mortar. Wait! Come back! We also have a burnt egg! Did I mention we drink four cups of wine?!

Part 4: We're going to need...Read more...

eJudaism: Rabbi Chagai Vilosky Is Jewish. Extremely Jewish. (Part 3/4)

04/13/2022 11:55:00 AM

Apr13

Michael Greenfield

Is there a more iconic, more central, more parodied, more necessary (and more poorly named) segment of the Seder than the Four Questions, which, technically speaking, is just one question and four statements? And is there a longer answer to a single question than the Passover Seder?

Part 3: We're going to need more questions.

Can you think of another people, another religion, that loves questions as much as we do? Can you even...Read more...

eJudaism: The Passover Multiverse (Part 2/4)

04/12/2022 04:01:37 PM

Apr12

Michael Greenfield

Sure, you might aspire to be the Wise Child or relish the idea that you're the Wicked Child. We're all convinced that we're definitely not the Simple Child, but we have met them. Spoiler alert? You're all four.

Part 2: We're going to need more children.

If you're thinking, Hey - didn't he leave out one Child?, you can safely rule out the possibility of being the Child Who Has No Ability to Inquire. That's not just good news...Read more...

eJudaism: Why, For This Holiday, Are There Four Posts? (Part 1/4)

04/11/2022 03:56:59 PM

Apr11

Michael Greenfield

You know that section at the end of the Passover Seder with the songs about God that sound like drinking songs? Yeah, those are drinking songs. They come - depending on your family traditions - hours or minutes after the Four Questions, the Four Children, and the Four Cups of Wine. Wine gladdens the heart according to the Psalms of David, our #1 partying king, but our kings don't get a mention in Who Knows One?, a song celebrating God, Torah,...Read more...

eJudaism: How's Your Balance? (High Holy Days)

09/05/2021 07:00:00 AM

Sep5

Michael Greenfield

Haven’t we had quite enough of introspection and looking deeply into our souls over the last 18 months? And now the High Holy Days are here? Truth is, Judaism never gets tired of Cheshbon HaNefesh, the accounting of the soul that we’re supposed to be doing right now. But even if you’re not big on spiritual spreadsheets, it’s good stuff . . . unless you’ve got reflection-fatigue from a year and a half of continually assessing your...Read more...

eJudaism: Masks, Faces, Souls (High Holy Days)

08/12/2021 04:11:59 PM

Aug12

Michael Greenfield

There’s something comforting about hiding behind a mask, and there’s something distressing about not being seen – the pandemic has made that all too clear. But none of us were strangers to the mask which is why the Jewish calendar reminds us to start taking them off today.

Today is the 1st of Elul, the month that leads to Rosh HaShanah, and it’s the month in which we each...Read more...

Rabbi Levinsky's Sermon 7.1.21

07/01/2021 11:05:21 AM

Jul1

Storytelling: Rabbi David Levinsky

In Japan, there is a way that they repair broken pottery. It’s called kintsugi. The process involves gluing the pieces together using lacquer. The key element, though, is the dusting of the sticky lacquer with gold powder. The results are beautiful. Not only is the piece of pottery once again whole, the cracks from the break are preserved in gold. The memory of the moment when the pottery broke...Read more...

eJUDAISM: IT'S NEVER A CAKE WALK HERE

05/19/2020 06:02:39 PM

May19

Michael Greenfield

Walk with me. Because to learn a city, you really need to walk its streets, and the story of Tel Aviv is written in its streets. It's a pre-COVID walk. The Nachalat Binyamin market is open. The Yemenite woman who makes the flatbread is there baking. If I had to guess, I'd say she's a bit older than the state, a bit younger than the city. I said Yemenite so you're going to want to tell me that her bread is malawach, but it's not. It's thinner....Read more...

eJUDAISM: DIGITAL FATIGUE

05/01/2020 03:11:20 PM

May1

Michael Greenfield

Another week is coming to a close. Another Shabbat nearly upon us to provide that sustaining refuge, that sacred sanctuary in time. I think we could all use some Shabbat.

I've been sending these eJudaism emails to share links to the digital Jewish world, but not this week. I've hit a wall of digital fatigue. Am I the only one? Other than buying avocados I'm not much of a gambler, but I'd bet a few bucks that some of you are feeling...Read more...

eJUDAISM: COUNTING THE DAYS, ALL KINDS

04/23/2020 08:27:09 PM

Apr23

Michael Greenfield

This current period, between Passover marking the Exodus and Shavuot marking the giving of the Torah at Sinai, was the beginning of wandering the desert for 40 years, and it later became a period of counting the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot. According to Jewish tradition, it was towards the end of this period that manna first appeared and miraculously fed the Jewish people until they reached Israel. According to the rabbis, any extra manna...Read more...

eJUDAISM: THE MID-PESACH EDITION

04/13/2020 04:42:09 PM

Apr13

Michael Greenfield

This sheltering in place won't last forever, but according to the emergency broadcasting system message that blared through my phone earlier, we've got at least a couple more weeks. So this is a good moment to take stock of what we have in our Jewish pantry and improvise in ways that bring us both nourishment and joy.

My hope is that you're enjoying a sweet Passover, and that this finds you well and learning to improvise, in the...Read more...

eJUDAISM: PASSOVER 5780

04/08/2020 11:01:02 AM

Apr8

Michael Greenfield

There's a moment at the start of the Seder when we hold up the matzah and declare, "This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry enter and eat." In his commentary to the Haggadah, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks asks whether it is actual hospitality to offer the hungry the taste of suffering. The matzah, he says, represents two things: it is the food of slaves, and it is the bread the Israelites ate...Read more...

eJUDAISM: THE ISRAEL EDITION

04/05/2020 09:59:57 PM

Apr5

Michael Greenfield

Let's start with a dispatch from Talia Goldberg, our Israeli Shlicha:

Mimouna is a traditional North African Jewish celebration dinner that currently takes place in Israel. It is held the day after Passover, marking the return to eating hametz (leavened bread, etc.) which is forbidden throughout the week of Passover. This year, Mimouna is on the evening of April 16.

You can find a recipe for the traditional dish called...Read more...

THE ISRAELI MUSIC CLASS SONGLIST

04/05/2020 09:02:53 PM

Apr5

Michael Greenfield

1886

Hatikvah (The Hope)

Read more...

eJUDAISM: HOW THE TALMUD ANTICIPATED SOCIAL DISTANCING

03/30/2020 11:16:45 AM

Mar30

Michael Greenfield

The Talmud, like a lot of Jews, is a worrier. And like a lot of worriers, the rabbis of the Talmud argued over solutions to more problems than most of us can conjure. The upside? The Talmud already contains a roadmap for dealing with social distancing - and it's a map that will be particularly helpful in the days and weeks (maybe months?) ahead.

Join me on Zoom on Wednesday, April 1, at 7pm as we turn to an ancient text for some very...Read more...

eJUDAISM: WHY IS THIS YEAR DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHER YEARS?

03/29/2020 08:05:18 PM

Mar29

Michael Greenfield

Our Friday night onegs are on Zoom, our synagogue is in a county under quarantine, and we all know exactly how many rolls of toilet paper we own right now. It's a unique moment, and it calls for a unique approach to the Seder. If you were thoughtful about your panic buying, you'll still be able to drink your four cups of wine. Tradition! But what if you can't find matzah or horseradish or parsley? What if you don't know how to make a seder?...Read more...

eJUDAISM: A THOUSAND KISSES, FALAFEL, ETC.

03/26/2020 08:17:59 PM

Mar26

Michael Greenfield

To paraphrase Jack Paar...as I was saying before I was interrupted by coronavirus...let's get back to our regularly scheduled adult ed programming, even if that means completely rethinking all of it in this new reality.

If you're spending more time at home than usual and are looking for a little taste of Judaism, or obscure pop culture references you can Google just to pass the time, you've come to the right place. I'm packing this...Read more...

Mon, June 27 2022 28 Sivan 5782