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Shabbat Shuva - Ha’azinu

Posted on September 18th, 2017

Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52 


Adam Rosenthal received rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in May of 2007 and is now serving as rabbi of Peninsula Sinai Congregation in Foster City, California. 


Remember the Days of Old


The Torah describes an earlier time, when lands were distributed fairly by God.


Among the major contributors to suffering around the world is the inequitable distribution of land and resources. The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth. On a more concrete level, in El Salvador, where I volunteered for 10 days on the AJWS Rabbinical Students’ Delegation, though the land was nominally redistributed in 1992, it was done far from equitably: The poorest people got the lowlands, which are prone to flooding, while the wealthiest held the fertile country, perpetuating the country’s economic inequalities.

In Parashat Ha’Azinu, the Torah poetically describes an earlier time, when lands were apportioned by God to each nation:

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Shabbat Shuva - Ha’azinu

Posted on September 18th, 2017

Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52 


Adam Rosenthal received rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in May of 2007 and is now serving as rabbi of Peninsula Sinai Congregation in Foster City, California. 


Remember the Days of Old


The Torah describes an earlier time, when lands were distributed fairly by God.


Among the major contributors to suffering around the world is the inequitable distribution of land and resources. The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth. On a more concrete level, in El Salvador, where I volunteered for 10 days on the AJWS Rabbinical Students’ Delegation, though the land was nominally redistributed in 1992, it was done far from equitably: The poorest people got the lowlands, which are prone to flooding, while the wealthiest held the fertile country, perpetuating the country’s economic inequalities.

In Parashat Ha’Azinu, the Torah poetically describes an earlier time, when lands were apportioned by God to each nation:

Continue reading.

Nitzavim-Vayeilech

Posted on September 11th, 2017

Deuteronomy 29:9 - 31:30 

Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels teaches Jewish thought and mysticism at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.


The Song of Humanity


Song can remind us of our authentic selves and our genuine power.


We often read Parashat Vayelekh on Shabbat Shuvah, the Shabbat of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Fittingly, this Torah portion deals with sin and repentance, with becoming lost on our way and returning to our true selves.

In the portion, God foretells Israel’s future sins and their consequences, how they will turn to other gods and then be overtaken by suffering, leading God to say, “anokhi haster astir panai–I will surely hide my face (Deut. 31:16-18).” The hidden face of God, the classic theological expression of the presence of suffering and evil in the world, here seems to be a response by God to the sins of Israel, a punishment for their misdeeds.

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Ki Tavo

Posted on September 4th, 2017

Deuteronomy 26:1 - 29:8


Rabbi Dorothy A. Richman is the Rabbi Martin Ballonoff Memorial Rabbi-in-Residence at Berkeley Hillel.


Affirming Responsibility


The power of "Amen."


There is a striking scene imagined in Parashat Ki Tavo (Deut. 27:11-26): Upon crossing the Jordan, the 12 tribes of Israel will divide into two groups. Six tribes will stand on a southern mountain facing the other six tribes on a northern mountain. The Levites will then scream a catalogue of 12 sins, each beginning with the phrase “Cursed be the one.” After each articulated sin, the other 11 tribes call out: “Amen!”

Solid Commitments

The tribes answer the curses in unison — what is the power of the word “Amen”?

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Ki Teitzei

Posted on August 28th, 2017

Deuteronomy 21:10 - 25:19 

 

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson is Vice-President of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles and Dean of its Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies.

 

Judaism and the Human Body


The commandment to remove a corpse from the stake on which it is impaled teaches us the importance of respecting the holiness of the body.


The definition of what is “religious” shifts throughout the ages. In antiquity, being religious meant offering sacrifices (of children, women, prisoners taken in war) and making regular gifts to the gods. In biblical Israel, it meant being aware of God’s presence, by bringing animal sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem at the designated times.

By the Second Temple period, a new emphasis, one of ritual purity, ethical rigor, and obedience to a growing oral tradition became the defining feature of pharisaic religiosity, which the Rabbis of the Talmud extended into an emphasis on the performance of mitzvot (commandments) and study as religious acts.

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