Moshe’s Bottom Line

Two verses, Deuteronomy 10:12-13, are the centerpiece and crown of Parashat Ekev, a summary statement of what God required (and requires) of Israel. Moshe is summarizing the lessons of 40 years in the Sinai desert, and this is his tamsit, Hebrew for we’d call the “bottom line” lesson, of the experiences that the nation had just been through. 

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Russ Resnik
Comfort, Comfort My People

Nachamu, nachamu ami, amar Eloheichem …“Comfort, comfort, my people, says your God.” These five Hebrew words introduce perhaps the most eloquent portion of Scripture, the “Rhapsody of Zion Redeemed” (Isaiah 40–66), which speaks of restoration, redemption, comfort, and hope for Israel.

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Russ Resnik
Tisha B'Av 5779

Jewish tradition tells us that whoever destroys a life is considered to have destroyed the whole world. In recent days, many worlds were shattered here in the United States. Gilroy, California; El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois—there have been so many violent attacks in our country that it is nearly impossible to create a comprehensive list.

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Russ Resnik
The Broken-Cistern Syndrome

This week, in the second Haftarah of Rebuke, Jeremiah 2:4–28; 4:1–2, Hashem complains against his people in his own words. It’s not a legal indictment, but a cry of betrayal and bereavement over a lost relationship.

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Russ Resnik
Joshua: The Making of a Superhero

As we celebrate our fortieth anniversary, the Union is coming to the end of one generation and the beginning of a new one. Now is the moment we find out whether we continue to march boldly along the trails blazed by our pioneers or fade away into a mere footnote in the history books. In the face of such uncertainty, with the stakes as high as they are, how can we look forward with confidence?

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Russ Resnik
As the Dew Falls

In the 21st century, with all of our technological and scientific advances, humankind occasionally gets the erroneous idea that we can control our destinies, that our own advancements allow us to fulfill the command of Hashem to rule over all of creation (Gen 1:28). Yet with all of our advancements, we cannot bring about even something as simple as the morning dew.  

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Russ Resnik
The Trials of Yiftach

Our haftarah takes place during a 200-year time of adjustment for the twelve tribes in the Land of Israel. It was a time of chaos, and too often a time of turning from the Torah to Canaanite practices. Jephthah or Yiftach is one of the “Judges” at this time in history, but he strikes the reader as a real outcast from his society.

 

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Russ Resnik
How to Handle a Tough Transition

Transitions! We all face them; they are inevitable and challenging, and cause anxiety, fear, and a whole slew of emotions that influence the way we act. All of this is compounded when we disagree with the decision that engendered the transition.

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Russ Resnik
The Faulty Lens of Fear

Three weeks have now passed on the Jewish calendar since the triumphant highs of receiving the Torah—and later the Ruach—on Shavuot. Beginning three weeks from now, we will experience the most tragic lows of the Jewish calendar—three weeks of mourning that culminate in the fast of Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the month Av.

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Russ Resnik
Salvation on Trial

 This week’s parasha introduces a theme that will characterize much of the remaining narrative of Bamidbar (Numbers). Chapters 11–25 contain a series of refusals on the part of Israel to accept authority. In chapter 12 even Miriam challenges Moses’ authority.

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Russ Resnik