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A Bisl Torah

The Future is Watching


As a result of Adam and Eve eating fruit from the tree of knowledge, the Torah tells us that “the eyes of both of them were opened….” They were stripped of their blissful naïveté, aware of their nakedness and vulnerability.

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Gates Unlocked and Hearts Opened


While the sukkah, lulav and etrog are common images associated with Sukkot, unlocked gates are just as central of symbols. As we reach the final stretch of the Sukkot festival, the seventh day receives a special name: Hoshana Rabba. Translated as: the great salvation. Hoshana Rabba serves as a bookend to Yom Kippur. The gates of repentance, compassion, and mercy are considered unlocked until the end of this minor holiday.

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The Power of Shade


There are many Jewish laws involved in building a sukkah. There are regulations pertaining to a sukkah’s height and where a sukkah is located. Rules about the durability of the sukkah and rules about how we use its space.

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Walls of Water


There is a visceral reaction in seeing a sea of people against a sea of water. Like many of you, we engaged in the ritual of tashlich this week. The “casting out” of our mistakes into a body of water. Some used traditional bread, others cleaned the beach in a “reverse tashlich,” and we prayed as a community that it should be the start of a sweet new year. A year of introspection, intentional steps, and choosing life.

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No Shofar on Shabbat Part 2


Rabbi Arthur Waskow offers some reasons why the shofar is not blown on Shabbat. The most obvious is the halakhic conundrum of carrying. We are not supposed to carry the shofar from home to the synagogue, which would violate the Jewish law of carrying from private to public domains.

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Shipwrecked


I am rereading my favorite High Holy Day books. Fortuitously, I came across a beautiful passage in Judah Goldin’s Introduction to Agnon’s High Holy Day anthology: Days of Awe. Here I share a treasure with all of you:

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I Shall Not Lack


It is a tradition in between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur to visit the graves of our loved ones. Some also choose to visit during these days leading up to Rosh Hashana, knowing that major holidays often amplify loss and intensify an already present grief.

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Hearing the Call


Many of us look forward to Rosh Hashana to hear the blasts of the shofar. The shofar’s blasts, a set of notes that often connote brokenness, awaken us to crying. Our internal cries and the cries of those within our community and around the world. Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf writes, “The call of the shofar is the sound that wakes us up so that we will make a choice for clarity, for awareness, for a fully constructive and purposeful life.”

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Getting Up


This week, I had the honor of joining a beloved congregant as she finished her week of shiva. We have a Jewish custom of “getting up.” Physically rising from one’s seat and intentionally taking a walk around the block to signify a return to life, a return to one’s routine and what is familiar.

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