Midrash HaZaK

Midrash HaZaK – Introduction

Midrash HaZaK – Introduction

  “Ben Bag Bag would say: turn it and turn it again, for all is in it; see through it; grow old and worn in it; do not budge from it, for there is nothing that works better than it.  (Pirkei Avot, “The Chapters of our Fathers,” 5:22) In the early part of the...

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The Final Chapter: What Moses can Teach Us about End of Life

The Final Chapter: What Moses can Teach Us about End of Life

Viewing myself at 70 however–a chaplain and researcher of isolation among older adults–I have become less enamored about the idea of dying alone. Thus, I support the initiative No One Dies Alone (NODA) that provides companionship to those bereft of family and friends. Yet, while administering pastoral care for the lonely, I am made shockingly aware that the Torah prescribes a solitary death for Moses, our Leader and greatest Teacher.

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Ha’Azinu: Poetry, Prose and Passing Time

Ha’Azinu: Poetry, Prose and Passing Time

Governor Mario Cuomo of New York once quipped that “we campaign in poetry but govern in prose.” However, for Moses, that adage worked in reverse. How so? When he campaigned with God to allow him to cross over the Jordan with B’nai Israel, he resorted to straight-forward prose:“I pleaded with the Lord at that time saying ‘Oh Lord God, You who have let Your servant see the first works of Your greatness and Your mighty hand…

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Ekev: Standing on their Shoulders

Ekev: Standing on their Shoulders

Ekev, the third reading in the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy), is a continuation of Moses’ farewell address to the Israelite nation poised to enter the Promised Land. Over the course of this final book of the Torah, Moses recounts the people’s journey from Egypt until now; 40 years later.

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VaEtchanan: Rav Lach, It Is Enough For You

VaEtchanan: Rav Lach, It Is Enough For You

“rav lach—it is enough for you.” These words encourage me to strive to make my days count and to treasure relationships and experiences and to have the wisdom to accept limitations and disappointments. They encourage me to balance the knowledge I do not have infinite time with gratitude for the time that I have.

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Massei: The Journals of the Journeys

Massei: The Journals of the Journeys

In 1960 I spent the summer at Camp Ramah in Canada. Advertised as a Hebrew-speaking camp, it was my first summer away from home. I decided to document my 8-week summer by keeping a diary which I still have to this day. Looking back, I am amazed at the amount of detail each day contained.

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Parashat Beha’alotekha: Lessons from the Elders

Parashat Beha’alotekha: Lessons from the Elders

Often, being older means having to strive to look and act younger; despite the inevitability of the aging process, we continue to be measured by our productivity. “He’s so active for his age!” “At her age she still looks great!”  As I reflected on my own aging process, I wondered about this emphasis on productivity and accomplishment.

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Behar-Bekhukotai: Seven and Fifty

Behar-Bekhukotai: Seven and Fifty

Behar and Bechukotai, often combined into a single reading, focuses on two big numbers: seven and 50. Seven is for the Sabbath, a reminder that the weekly cycle ends with a pause–a recharge–and then while the counting starts again, the opportunity to grow and retreat doesn’t reset; we have the opportunity to continue enriching it.

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Ki Tissa: Aging and Reconciliation

Ki Tissa: Aging and Reconciliation

So begins the first fundamental crisis in the Covenant between the people of Israel and God. This wasn’t like Abraham and Isaac; horrifying as that was, it was a family crisis. This one involved and affected what was now suddenly the nation of Israel, as it just began to come into existence.

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Re’eh: See the Blessing

And what are we supposed to see? “I (Moses? God?) set before you today a blessing and a curse.” How are we supposed to see this? Is it related in any way to how we are supposed to hear, Sh’ma Yisrael, that God is One?

To see something with our own eyes is to perceive it. To hear something with our own ears is to understand it.

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Shemot: And God Said, “Hineni”

Shemot: And God Said, “Hineni”

I believe in miracles, and I believe in God, but the accepted translations and interpretations of common scenes in the Torah had made it uncomfortable, if not impossible–for me, as a Jewish woman, to find much meaning from Torah in my life.

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Vayehi: Jacob’s End-of-Life Wisdom

Vayehi: Jacob’s End-of-Life Wisdom

The concluding chapters of Genesis offer a relevant model for “conscious living and dying” today. Living in a death-denying culture, we can learn a great deal from Jacob and Joseph to help us deal more openly with the end-of-life journey and with grief in our families and communities.

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Naso, The Blessings of Living and Giving: Y’varechecha as a Guide
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Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/mricon/8922711 Ha'Azinu: Poetry, Prose and Passing Time Rabbi Stephen Axinn Governor Mario Cuomo of New York once quipped that “we campaign in poetry but govern in prose.” However, for Moses, that adage worked in reverse. How so? When...

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