Rabbi Zushya on Moshe's Transgression

Photograph of Tamar Marvin
by Tamar Marvin, PhD
posted on July 10, 2019
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
To Rabbi Zushya, an early Hasidic master who left behind no writings but many stories, belong two of the most darkly encouraging statements about human purpose: to him is attributed the saying, “Each person should have a coat with two pockets—one pocket with a note on which it’s written, ‘I am but dust and ashes,’ and the other pocket with a note on which it’s written, ‘For my sake the world was created.’” Rabbi Zushya is also credited with exclaiming, tearfully, “When I am judged for the World-to-Come, I won’t be asked why I wasn’t more like Moshe, but why I wasn’t more like Zushya.” These Read more...

And Reason Shall Not Prevail

Photograph of Yehuda Hausman
by Rabbi Yehuda Hausman
posted on July 14, 2015
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
“In all things, reason should prevail,” wrote William Penn. Yet in quite a few things, we have lost reason altogether. In this week’s portion, Balak, the pagan king of the Moabites, is desperately trying to protect his commonwealth. Israel has just routed Moab’s neighbors - the Bashonites and Amorites - and Balak knows that his nation may very well be next.  So he engages the services of a non-Israelite prophet, Balaam, whose task is to get the God of Israel to curse the Jewish people.  Read more...

Awake While Asleep? Asleep While Awake?

Photograph of Reb Mimi Feigelson
by Reb Mimi Feigelson
posted on July 14, 2014
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
It took almost a decade until Professor Moshe Idel helped me retrieve my dignity and relationship with Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, 1040-1105). I flunked Rashi in third grade - I received a "C" - I couldn't read Rashi script to save my life. The shame sat with me for years. I thought I had overcome being "Rashi-challenged" until my first exam on Rashi in tenth grade. Our Torah teacher listed 10 verses of the Chumash that we had not learned yet in class, and asked us to answer "What was Rashi's question? What was his problem?" It seemed simple - ten verses, ten questions. Read more...