Focus On the Gifts (Lech Lecha)

/
“And Abraham said to G-d: If only Yishmael would live before you.” (Genesis 17:18) Abraham knew Yishmael’s limitations and yet believed in his potential to become his heir. When he was informed that he was going to have a "miracle" child with Sara, he asked God to do something much more humble: To help him bring out Yishmael's best. Parents, perhaps better than anyone else see their child’s…

Harvey Weinstein and the Elephant in Therapy

/
The therapeutic relationship, whether with a man, woman or child is an intimate one. Behind a closed door, the therapist intently and warmly listens while the client discloses aspects of one’s life that have likely never been revealed to anyone else before.  If the work is to be fruitful a deep connection is formed. This is shaky ethical ground. In such a private and supportive setting, the appropriate…

God's Faith in Us (Noach)

/
Noah believed in God, so he saved himself, but he could not save his world. Abraham believed that God believed in him and therefore he and his children continue to transform the world into a home for the divine. The faith that we want to imbue our children with is God’s faith in them! We communicate that their birthday is proof they have been placed here by the Creator for a purpose. In challenging…

Your "Bashert" and Your Subconscious

/
In my previous 2 posts on marriage, it was my goal to explore the relationship between the Imago model of marriage counseling and Torah. I would like to continue that theme here. A well known Talmudic dictum is that before conception a divine declaration is made that "so and so" is destined to marry "so and so". Taking this at face value has led to the traditional Jewish belief of a "bashert" (soul…

To Commit to Another

/
“And Abraham went as God spoke to him, and Lot went together with him”. The verse seems to be saying that if Lot would not have joined on his own, Abraham would not have brought him along on his journey to the land of Canaan.  What was the reason for Abraham’s hesitation? If we look at how the story continues we see that Lot may not have grasped and fully internalized Abraham’s path of devotion…

The Escape Hatch

/
After Noah leaves the ark his very first action is to plant a vineyard. Why a vineyard? A possible approach to this question is based on the Rabbi's description of Noah as one “who lacked faith”.  Quite a strange description for a man that heeded God’s command and spent years building an ark and gathering on board all that God told him. Perhaps Noah was not lacking faith in God, but faith in…

When Your Child Asks: "What's This?!"

/
A number of years back Rabbi Aaron Ross of Yavneh Academy in New Jersey posted the following on LookJed, a Jewish educator’s forum: “Being an educator is a tricky business.  What inspires one student can turn off another student, or perhaps can turn off the same student on a different day.  We are called upon to constantly be sensitive to the characters and needs of our students and to do…

Each and Every One of Us

/
In this week’s Torah portion of Nitzavim-Vayelech, Moshe (Moses) conducts the final preparations for bringing the Jewish nation into Israel and he renews the covenant that was established between God and the Jewish nation at Sinai. What was the covenant? “To establish you as a people to Him and that He be a God to you..” In plain English, God was entrusting us to be his representatives here…

Look Your Part

/
At the beginning of the Torah portion of Emor, The Torah outlines the physical requirements for a Kohen (priest) to serve in the Bait Hamikdash (Holy Temple) in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). A variety of physical blemishes and disabilities - although they do not remove his priestly status (which is inherited) - will disqualify him from performing the holy service.  Seemingly, a servant of God is a spiritual…

Making the Inspiration Last

/
The inspiration never lasts. We’ve all experienced the excitement that leads to a new commitment and the challenge in keeping it going: A daily exercise regimen and Spanish lessons are two of my own that have recently cooled off. So when the Jewish nation stood at Mount and experienced the excitement and inspiration of a national divine revelation, their passionate commitment to the Torah and its…