Torah Sparks

  • When Bad Things Happen to Good People

    When Bad Things Happen to Good People

    In the aftermath of devastating tragedies, readers from Brooklyn, as well as from my community in Maryland and in Virginia, have reached out to ask for a discussion of Divine Justice and what to do when bad things happen to good people.
  • Twists on an Argument Halakha: Behind the Scenes, part 4

    Twists on an Argument Halakha: Behind the Scenes, part 4

    The argument we have analyzed last week, according to which a certain rabbi was unaware of previous sources, has been used quite often in Halakhic literature, and covering it in this forum is impractical.
  • Is it Bribe? Halakha: Behind the Scenes, part III

    Is it Bribe? Halakha: Behind the Scenes, part III

    There are many examples of the argument that a certain author was not familiar with the ruling of another rabbi, and that had he seen it, he would have changed his mind, but the following has a unique significance, because it is the first time the argument is used to …
  • Had the Rabbi Known… Halakha: Behind the Scenes, part II

    Had the Rabbi Known… Halakha: Behind the Scenes, part II

    Here are more cases where a previous ruling was reversed or rejected, because of the assumption that the person who issued the ruling was missing some information:
  • Halakha: Behind the Scenes, part I

    Halakha: Behind the Scenes, part I

    It is officially summer (we are so lucky to have officials tell us when summer starts, otherwise we would never know how to dress or when to apply suntan lotion - clarity sure helps), and in the world of Halakha that means a major headache.
  • Words Matter

    Words Matter

    We often teach our children the famous story of Yettl and the feathers. Yettl was accused of gossiping in her community. The Rabbi advised her to take a feather pillow and let all the feathers out in the field.
  • A Roof, A Bed, and A Table

    A Roof, A Bed, and A Table

    Didn’t it feel good to see the rain come down this winter, healing our drought, filling our reservoirs and river, bringing the tangy scent of petrichor? Wasn’t it sweet to curl up under a blanket, falling asleep to the soothing rumble of rain on the roof.
  • The Nexus of Life and Death

    The Nexus of Life and Death

    Lying in the delivery room after 24 hours of labor with my first child, I began to wonder if I would survive. I did. This week's Torah portion starts with a focus on the laws concerning purification after childbirth: Childbirth results in a woman being impure (tamah, Leviticus 12:2).
  • “Embracing Infinity” – Parashat Sh’mini

    “Embracing Infinity” – Parashat Sh’mini

    “Va-yehi ba-yom hash’mini…” It is on the eighth day that the dedication of the Mishkan, the desert Tabernacle, spoken into being by God’s desire to dwell amongst the Israelites and built with their heart-offerings, culminates in Aaron’s successful performance, for the first time, of his priestly service.
  • A Not Too Political Rambling on Bondage and Adlerian Psychology

    A Not Too Political Rambling on Bondage and Adlerian Psychology

    I have heard the political and social concerns of my students, colleagues, and friends, and I share many of them with you! “I have now heard the moaning of the Israelites because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered my covenant. Say, then to the Israelite …