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Seeking the Good

Be Holy – The Holy Order of the Heart of the Six Pointed Star

  Be Holy - The Holy Order of the Heart of the Six Pointed Star (thoughts on Torah Portion Kedoshim 2022) A holy person acts differently from...

Aaron ‘s Silence – Comments on Torah Portion Shemini

Aaron’s Silence Comments on Torah Portion Shemini 2022 Two young men meet a sudden, tragic death in our Torah portion. The scene is described tersely: Now Aaron’s...

The Cloud, the Fire and the Voice – Torah portion Pekudei

    The Cloud, the Fire and the Voice Thoughts on Torah Portion Pekudei Rabbi Mordecai Finley, Ph. D.   The fire that appeared in the burning bush on Mt....

Silent Work – Torah Portion Vayakhel –

  The Silent Work - Vayakhel 2022 Preface 25 Feb 22 - for the commentary on the Torah portion, see below: With the Russian invasion of...

Torah Portion Mishpatim and The Study of Law and Ethics

  Torah Portion Mishpatim and The Study of Law and Ethics The major part of our Torah portion, Mishpatim, raises important questions about Judaism, religion in...

Engraved Freedom – Thoughts on Torah Portion Yitro

  Engraved Freedom – Thoughts on Torah Portion Yitro  We read in the Torah that the 10 Commandments were engraved on stone tablets. There is a...

The Inner Pharaoh and the Truth Within

  Preface for January 7 2022 This Shabbat A Word From the Rabbi Finley People ask me: what is the difference between the Yetzer Ha-Ra and the Inner...

Annual Christmas Talk – First Century Judaism and the Rise of Christianity

  Annual “Christmas Talk” Shabbat Shemot 2021 Our motto, at one time, used to be “Moving Tradition Forward.”  One of the oldest traditions of our synagogue...

The Struggle for the Blessing – Torah Portion Va-Yechi 2021

  The Struggle for the Blessing Torah Portion VaYechi 2021 (adapted from previous versions) When I was a graduate student at USC, I frequented a nearby supermarket...

The Unification of the Soul – Shabbat VaYishlach 2021

  The Unification of the Soul Torah Portion VaYishlach 2021 (adapted from previous versions) In the Torah we are taught to love God, “with all your heart,...

Torah Portion Chayyei Sarah – Life Torn and Sewn Back Together

(Introduction 2021: Our Torah portion, Chayei Sarah, is a good example of how the Bible changes its rhythm for literary purpose. The Bible is...

Ruminations on Highway 61 (Shabbat Vayeira 2021) (adapted from earlier versions)     Highway 61 runs down from the city of Wyoming in Minnesota, and down to...

Destruction and Regeneration Thoughts on Torah Portion Noah

  Destruction and Regeneration Thoughts on Torah Portion Noah (adapted from previous versions) I imagine warring bands of murderous maniacs, spreading ruination everywhere they went. Anyone who...

Gratitude and Happiness Within – Chol Ha-Mo’ed Sukkot

Preface For Friday September 24th I have spoken to many people who had really incredible Yom Kippur experiences. Their Sukkot has becoe dwellings of transformation....

From the Shadow to the Comforting Shade – Thoughts on the Days of Awe and the Days of Joy

The Days of Awe and Days of Joy (Rosh HaShanah, the 10 Days of Turning, Yom Kippur and Sukkot) form a powerful spiritual path,...

The Great Order – Comments for Shabbah Shuvah

  The Great Order Comment on Shabbat Shuvah – coinciding with Torah portion Va-Yeilekh The tension between order and chaos is core to every facet of the...

Thoughts Before Rosh HaShanah 2021 (coinciding with Nitzavim)

The Orchestra Thoughts Before Rosh HaShanah 2021 (coinciding with Nitzavim)   I have two different competing thoughts as I think about the core theme of Rosh HaShana...

The Shadow Side – Thoughts on Torah Portion Ki Teitzei 2021

    Preface to Shabbat Thought Friday 20 Aug 21: We went to very deep places this week in our wisdom classes on Wednesday night, experiences...

Revering, Walking, Loving, Serving – Torah Portion Ekev

Revering, Walking, Loving, Serving Reflections of Torah portion Ekev 2021 (from previous versions)   This week’s Torah potion, Ekev, has a section that I encourage you to...

Torah Portion Va-Etchanan – The First of the Seven Weeks

Torah Portion Va-Etchanan - The First of the Seven Weeks This week is the first of seven weeks that take us to Rosh HaShanah....

Finding Refuge/Teaching in Exile – Comments on Torah Portions Mattot-Massei

Reflections on Torah Portion Mattot-Masei Teaching in Exile This week’s Torah portion is a double portion. The reason we have double portions is so that during...

Curses – Thoughts on Torah portion Balak

Curses Thoughts on Torah Portion Balak 2021 Unbeknownst to the Israelites, great hostility is brewing just over the next hill. The main focus of this...

Seventh Day Passover – The Second Step into the Sea

  In the Bible, Passover is a seven-day observance, with the first and last days being holidays. The middle days are called “chol ha-mo’ed” “the...

Moonshine – Passover Thought 2021

Moonshine – Passover Thought 2021 (adapted from prior years) Our Seder plans, recipes, programs and the conducting of the Seder can be complex, especially in...

Shabbat HaGadol – Live Free

As we enter “the time of our freedom,” we are called on to think a bit about this idea. When we think of freedom,...

From Darkness to Wisdom — Thoughts on Torah Portion Vayeitzei 2020

I can imagine Jacob justifiably bemoaning his fate as he trudges toward Paddam Aram. Jacob was the one, the Bible tells us, who was...

How The First Verses of the Torah Came to be Written – A Conjecture

“How did things get this way?” is probably one of the first things that ancient human beings asked. Not most of them, for sure....

Seekers of Truth Among the Ruins – Thoughts on the Shabbat Before the 9th of Av (Parshat Devarim)

Seekers of Truth Among the Ruins Thoughts on the Sabbath Before the 9th of Av (Parshat Devarim) Well-being is within your reach. We’ve all had...

A Turning Point

(this was sent to my synagogue list on June 3rd, 2020) “My innards, my innards shudder! I writhe in pain! The walls of my heart...

The Greater Part of Valor – Thoughts on Torah Portion Shelach Lekha

The Greater Part of Valor Thoughts on Torah Portion Shelach Lekha 2020 (adapted from 2019) All Ohr HaTorah regulars know about my little bit of a...

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