Category: Torah

  • The Unbearable Darkness of Being: On Ishay Ribo’s Seder ha-Avodah

    The Unbearable Darkness of Being: On Ishay Ribo’s Seder ha-Avodah

    Ishay Ribo’s remarkable, melancholy version of the Seder ha-Avodah, the piyyut recited in the Amidah of Musaf on Yom Kippur, traces a different theology of teshuvah than that classically outlined by Rambam in Hilchot Teshuvah. With much of the song drawn directly from the liturgy (which itself relies heavily, often verbatim, on Mishnah Yoma), Ribo’s […]

  • Chukkat: We Cannot But Be in Process

    Chukkat: We Cannot But Be in Process

    My thoughts for Chukkat 5781 for Yeshivat Maharat’s Divrei Torah: Parashat Chukat includes one of the Torah’s great mysteries: Moshe Rabbenu is told he willnot live to lead Bnei Yisrael across the Yarden and into Eretz Yisrael on account of histransgression at the (second) striking of the rock. But what was Moshe’s transgressionexactly? What could […]

  • Chukat: Rabbi Zushya on Moshe’s Transgression

    Chukat: Rabbi Zushya on Moshe’s Transgression

    Originally published in a local newsletter, 5779. To Rabbi Zushya, an early Hasidic master who left behind no writings but many stories, belong two of the most darkly encouraging statements about human purpose: to him is attributed the saying, “Each person should have a coat with two pockets—one pocket with a note on which it’s […]

  • Bechukotai: Wagering on the Meaning of Meaning

    Bechukotai: Wagering on the Meaning of Meaning

    Parashat Bechukkotai is known for its aspect of tokhechah, admonition. This parashah details the consequences of pursuing God’s laws (chukkot) and commandments (mitzvot), including the positive but dwelling upon the negative, in terms of sheer number and detail. The parashah begins, “If you walk in my laws (im bechukkotai telekhu) and keep my commandments (et […]

  • Halakhic Codes of the Rishonim: אורחות חיים

    Halakhic Codes of the Rishonim: אורחות חיים

    This series, the Halakhic Codes of the Rishonim, explores lesser-known sources of halakhah in the chain of transmission that were incorporated into Shulchan ‘Arukh (and therefore current halakhic practice), as well as halakhot and minhag lost to living observance. This is first post in the series. Image: A fragment of Orchot Chayyim (about tum’ah, ritual […]