The King is in the Field: Lessons of Elul

The King is in the Field: Lessons of Elul

Rosh HAshasna

For one month of the year, the month of Elul, we are responsible for deep introspection, with the goal of arriving at Rosh Hashanah, fully aware of ourselves, what we have done, what we want to do, and where we are going. Elul is our time to connect to Israel—ourselves, our people, and our land.

Continue reading

Israel in the Parasha – Bechukotai


Bechukotai: The Dignity of Freedom

The final chapters of Leviticus cast two possible futures for the Jewish people as they settle in the Land of Israel. In one scenario, Israel remains committed to her covenant with God. The results of that commitment are described in the most moving and beautiful evocation of peace and divine intimacy to be found in the Torah (Lev. 26:3-13). Continue reading

Memory and Independence – The Transition from Yom Ha-Zikaron to Yom Ha-atzma’ut

Memory & Independence


One year ago my friend Chana was visiting my family in Massachusetts. Recently released from the army, she was spending a few months with loved ones in the U.S.

We spent the day at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. A normal thing to do with a visitor to our city, except: it was Yom Ha-Zikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day. And Chana told me that precisely at 12:55 pm she needed to find a quiet place in the museum. She had to call home, to get her mother on the phone, so that she could hear the siren. Continue reading

Israel In the Parasha – Acharei Mot

Acharei Mot: The Land of Israel—Holy or Not?

ancient Israel landascape Negev

אַל־תִּֽטַּמְּא֖וּ בְּכָל־אֵ֑לֶּה כִּ֤י בְכָל־אֵ֙לֶּה֙ נִטְמְא֣וּ הַגּוֹיִ֔ם אֲשֶׁר אֲנִ֥י מְשַׁלֵּ֖חַ מִפְּנֵיכֶֽם׃ וַתִּטְמָ֣א הָאָ֔רֶץ וָאֶפְקֹ֥ד עֲוֺנָ֖הּ עָלֶ֑יהָ וַתָּקִ֥א הָאָ֖רֶץ אֶת־יֹשְׁבֶֽיהָ׃ וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֣ם אַתֶּ֗ם אֶת־חֻקֹּתַי֙ וְאֶת מִשְׁפָּטַ֔יוְלֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֔וּ מִכֹּ֥ל הַתּוֹעֵבֹ֖ת הָאֵ֑לֶּה הָֽאֶזְרָ֔ח וְהַגֵּ֖ר הַגָּ֥ר בְּתוֹכְכֶֽם׃
כִּ֚י אֶת־כָּל־הַתּוֹעֵבֹ֣ת הָאֵ֔ל עָשׂ֥וּאַנְשֵֽׁי־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לִפְנֵיכֶ֑ם וַתִּטְמָ֖א הָאָֽרֶץ׃
וְלֹֽא־תָקִ֤יא הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֶתְכֶ֔ם בְּטַֽמַּאֲכֶ֖ם אֹתָ֑הּ כַּאֲשֶׁ֥רקָאָ֛ה אֶת־הַגּ֖וֹי אֲשֶׁ֥ר לִפְנֵיכֶֽם:

24Do not defile yourselves in any of those ways, for it is by such that the nations that I am casting out before you defiled themselves. 25Thus the land became defiled; and I called it to account for its iniquity, and the land spewed out its inhabitants.  26But you must keep My laws and My rules, and you must not do any of those abhorrent things, neither the citizen nor the stranger who resides among you; 27for all those abhorrent things were done by the people who were in the land before you, and the land became defiled.  28So let not the land spew you out for defiling it, as it spewed out the nation that came before you. (Leviticus 18:24-28) Continue reading