Purim and Its Remedy

It brings joy to my heart when I see little children dressed up in their Purim costumes on our streets here in Israel. I loved it when my children donned their costumes, paraded on the town’s sidewalks with their elementary school class, and had tons of fun at their class parties. But then I am faced with my growing uneasiness during this holiday.

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Russ Resnik
Holy Dual Loyalty

Ilhan Omar, congresswoman from Minnesota, has maintained her high exposure in the news stream for weeks by repeatedly “using anti-Semitic clichés in her criticisms of the American-Israeli relationship.” The cliché that seems to have gotten the most attention is Omar’s recent insinuation of dual loyalty: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

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Russ Resnik
What Do You See in the Cloud?

This week’s haftarah is a glorious one. What had begun with Moses in the desert now finds its culmination with Solomon in Jerusalem. The people were once nomads in a desert on their way to the land of promise. Now they stand before their established king in their allotted land to dedicate a secure, fixed, and beautiful house to the living God.

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Russ Resnik
One Man Makes the Difference

This Shabbat is Shabbat Shekalim, corresponding to the season in our calendar when the half-shekel tax was assessed in ancient Israel. Our haftarah portion, 2 Kings 11:17–12:17, is a short history lesson, but one that carries a challenge throughout the generations.

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Russ Resnik
Who You Gonna Listen To?

This week’s haftarah from 1 Kings 18 is best known for Elijah’s victory over the priests of Ba’al at Mount Carmel, which led to a massive return of the people of Israel (the northern kingdom) to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Often overlooked in this well-known passage is the reception Elijah received on his way to Carmel and during the interactions that occurred there.  

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Russ Resnik
Be Lovers of Peace

In Exodus 19:6 God says to Israel, “You shall be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” So in reality we are all priests. The kohanim are just the priests to the priests. But Israel as a whole are priests to the nations of the world.

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Russ Resnik
Where Does God Dwell?

“I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel” (1 Kings 6:12). These words to Solomon refer to the promise Hashem gave to David, that one of David’s descendants would build a house for Hashem’s name and that he would build a permanent dynasty for David (2 Sam 7). Ultimately, these words were fulfilled in Yeshua, the King and Messiah of Israel.

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Russ Resnik
Guarding the Covenant

In the Torah portion this week we have what seems to be a whole long list of laws. This listing of rules appears to us modern readers to support the stereotype (a negative one) of the Old Testament, and therefore to be skipped over to get to the “narrative” (the story). However, if this list is skipped over, then the modern reader will miss out on several rules that still seem important today.

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Russ Resnik
An Aristocracy of Humility

With the arrival at Sinai, Israel begins to forge in earnest its national identity. Only in covenantal relationship with the God of their forefathers, the God to whom the entire world belongs, does the shared experience of bondage and liberation begin to take on meaning. Here at Sinai the full transition is made from servitude to Pharaoh to the service of God and his creation.

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Russ Resnik
The Woman of Flames

The Book of Judges reads like an action movie or a comic book, replete with heroes and villains, vivid battle scenes, quirky protagonists, and gory death scenes. In the 4th chapter of Judges, we learn that Gal Gadot is not the original Jewish Wonder Woman. Instead, the honor goes to Deborah, who precedes her by several thousand years.

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Monique Brumbach