Month: September 2017

Parashat Nitzvaim-Vayeilech • Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20, 31:1-30

During my first year of rabbinical school in Israel the jewelry of a particular silversmith was popular amongst my classmates. The artisan would take any verse of Hebrew scripture and engrave it upon hammered silver jewelry. Both aesthetically pleasing and spiritually inspiring, you can imagine why these necklaces were popular amongst young rabbinic, cantorial and education students. These charms became a wearable credo and a reminder to the wearer of whatever message they bore. One of my classmates had the shortest quote I had seen on a large silver circular charm, it read, “lo bashamayim hi,” three words from this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Nitsavim, which translate to, “it is not in the heavens.”

Not being as familiar with Nitzavim as my friend, I asked her to describe what the words meant to her. She went on to explain that they appear near the end of Deuteronomy, after Moses has spent considerable time reminding the Israelites of all that they have seen, and all that they have agreed to do in their covenant with God. These words appear in a moment where Moses reassures the Israelites that the work of understanding and implementing the terms of the covenant is not beyond them. As his exit approaches, Moses reminds the Israelites that the work of being in holy relationship with the Divine is not beyond them, nor is it beyond us. I love these three words, because they so simply encapsulate Judaism’s understanding of how humanity can indeed access the Divine – and that which is greater-than-us. We need no intermediary, just an openness to give, to receive and to be changed. I, for one, will be holding onto these three words of reminder as we head in to the ritual-and-prayer-dense High Holy Days.

Rabbi Callie B. Schulman


Parashat Ki Tavo • Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8

The month of Elul offers us the opportunity to prepare in earnest for the High Holy Days to come. Just as a soccer player would never enter the pitch without stretching nor would an actress step on stage without ample preparations, so too must we prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to come. I am always sorry to disappoint, but if you plop down in your seat on Rosh Hashanah and expect to be wowed without putting in the necessary personal preparation, we will do just that!

Jewish tradition is to blow the shofar each non-Shabbat morning to begin the process of waking our souls. In the words of Maimonides: “Awake, you sleepers from your sleep. Arouse you slumberers from your slumber and ponder your deeds; remember your Creator and return to God in repentance. Do not be like those who miss the truth in pursuit of shadows and waste their years seeking vanity. Look well to your souls and consider your deeds; turn away from your wrong ways and improper thoughts.” Whether we hear the shofar blow each morning or undertake these preparations in another way, may we enter this High Holy Day season ready to do the difficult spiritual work to come.


Rabbi Aaron C. Meyer

Parashat Ki Teitzei • Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19

Watch The Best of Rabcast for Rabbi Daniel Weiner’s interpretation of this week’s Torah portion.