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Showing posts from July, 2008

Pinchas 5768: "The Blessings of Brokenness"

Pinchas 5768: "The Blessings of Brokenness" 
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor
The great Israeli poet Chaim Nachman Bialik once said that reading a translation is like kissing through a veil.  The beginning of Parashat Pinchas illustrates this quite clearly.  And not only does the biblical Hebrew lose its power refracted into the vernacular, but even if the Hebrew of a handheld Chumash is consulted, there is much missing which can only be experienced by direct contact with the Torah scroll itself.
First the language.  We read (translate) the following:
"The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Phinchas, son of Elazar son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the Israelites by displaying among them his jealousy for Me, so that I did not wipe out the Israelite people in My Jealousy. Say, therefore, 'I grant him My 'Covenant of Shalom'. It shall be for him and his descendants after him a pact of priesthood for all time, because he was jealous for his God, thus …

A Note from Rabbi Creditor: "Continuous Creation" in honor of David Stein and Aliza Segal

A Note from Rabbi Creditor:
"Continuous Creation"
in honor of David Stein and Aliza Segal

  15 Tammuz 5768
July 18, 2008

While tradition teaches that "kol hatchalot kashot/all beginnings are hard" there are times when beginnings are moments of palpable love.

One year ago, when we arrived in Berkeley with almost 3 children and many dreams, we took a step forward into the unknown.  Netivot Shalom, a place of deep Torah and caring, was a new and mysterious community.  I remember that very first day in my office, that very first Shabbat, those first friendships.Two of those first friends, two beloved members of our community, are making new beginnings in the coming weeks.  I'm humbled to return the care with which they welcomed my family as they prepare for their next steps by sharing these words.

The Torah's first story recounts the difficulties involved in creation.  Mystery and challenges in the narrative speak to and about people who are at the junction of faith …

A Reflection on Jewish Law for the Modern Jew

A Reflection on Jewish Law for the Modern Jew
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

For those who have not heard of the decision by Church of England this past Monday (July 7) to endorse women as bishops, the relevant New York Times article should be read as a potential tool for re-understanding the tension felt by any living spiritual community:  how to remain both religiously authentic and honestly responsive to the world in which we live. 

There are those in every faith tradition who would depict responsive traditionalists as "manipulators of [Religious Law] to justify their abandonment of whatever elements of Jewish religious law frustrate some of their congregants' wishes or clash with contemporary societal mores."  These were the words of Rabbi Avi Shafran, in the sequel to his now-infamous "The Conservative Lie (Moment, Feb. 2001)," in which he claimed that "while proclaiming fealty to halachah [Jewish Law], the movement's leaders have brazenly trampled the ver…