Balak: A Misunderstood King

When people read the Story of Balaam, they always focus on the Talking Donkey. I can’t understand why. The Torah Portion is named after me, King Balak of Moab, and, after all, talking donkeys are nothing unusual. I daresay, Reader, that you may have heard one or two, or several, mainly in politics, which we […]

Chukat: The Brass Serpent

“The LORD sent fiery serpents against the Israelite People [for the sin of doubting Moses]. They bit the people, many of whom died. The people came to Moses and begged him to help them, by interceding with God. The Lord said to Moses,‘Make a fiery serpent—Seraph of brass, and mount it on a standard. If […]

Korach: And the rejoicing began

It was the Anniversary-Day, the day on which On ben Pelet, last of the Korachite mutineers, celebrated his survival of the Great Catastrophe. Little children of the Reuben and Levite tribes flocked into his tent, where Yecholah bat Nifla, his loving wife, gave the little ones cookies she baked from an old recipe—“As good as […]

Schlach: And the land had rest for forty years….

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelite people; send one man from each of the ancestral tribes, each one a prince of his tribe. So Moses sent them out from the Wilderness of Paran….” –Num. 13:1-3 As I recall it—though […]

Behaalotecha: The High Priest of Midian

Call me Chovav—or Jethro, or Reuel, who cares? I go by many names. I strive to be modest, but, truly, I am a vital part of the Israelite Saga. As Jethro, I was High Priest of Midian. One night, a dusty, travel-worn, exhausted refugee named Moses escaped from the slavery hellhole of Ramesses II, and […]

Naso: Samson: A Fable

The LORD spoke to Moses: …If a man or woman takes the vow of a Nazirite, to set himself apart for the Lord, he shall abstain from strong drink, nor shall he eat even  grapes. …No razor shall touch his head; his hair and beard must be left untrimmed. …During his term as a Nazirite, […]

Bamidbar: Into the Wilderness

(Enter Moses into the Wilderness outside the Israelite camp, alone. He looks fatigued and worn-out; suddenly, his legs buckle, and he slumps to the ground. He looks up to the Heavens in an accusing manner.)             Dear God, can you not ease my burden of this People? It is not enough that they are always […]

Bechukotai: Planet Erewhon

“If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments… the earth shall yield its produce and the trees of the field their fruit. …If you do not obey Me… I will break your proud glory. I will make your skies like iron and your earth like copper. …Your land shall not yield its produce….” […]

Behar: Sustainable Farming in the Torah (video)

Speak: A Poem for Parashah Emor

Speak of ritual and rules, of purity and piety. Speak of celebration, and time that drifts and flows in a spiral of light and dark and bounty and decay. Speak, in each season of coming and going and rising like smoke, like breath, effortless as thought, and rising, ever rising kadosh, kadosh, kadosh. Speak of […]