January 23, 2019

Torah Talk: Parashat Behaalotcha with Rabbi Jack Romberg

Rabbi Jack Romberg has served the congregation of Temple Israel in Tallahassee since July of 2001.  Being a rabbi is his second career.  Rabbi Romberg led his family’s furniture manufacturing business for almost three 18 years.  He entered Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion at age 42.  He was ordained in NYC in May of 2001.  In Tallahassee Rabbi Romberg has led many programs and initiatives.  He is currently serving as the chair of The Village Square, a nationally recognized organization that creates civil conversations, both politically and religiously.  One program he created is Faith, Food and Friday, a monthly discussion with a panel of 5 clergy on current issues.  His biggest pride, however, is in his 3 grandchildren ages 9, 7 and 4.  And other than Judaism, his greatest passion is being a Philadelphia sports fan, especially of the Eagles and Phillies.
This week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Beha’alotcha (Numbers 8:1-12:15) – begins with the lighting of the menorah and then goes on to describe the cleansing of the Levites and the first celebration of Passover in the desert. The Torah subsequently describes a series of bitter complaints made by the people of Israel about life in the desert, and the portion concludes with Moses’ sister Miriam speaking slander about Moses to their brother Aaron and getting punished for it with a terrible skin disease. Our discussion focuses on the family of Moses and on Miriam’s curious punishment.


Previous Torah Talk on Behaalotcha:

Rabbi Charyl Jacobs

Rabbi Jonathan Case

Rabbi Rick Winer

Rabbi Irwin Kula

Rabbi Adam Chalom



The Lost Wallets of My Past – A Poem for Haftarah Tazria-Metzora by Rick Lupert

A camp empty of people
but full of silver and food

Oh the wallets I’ve left
in public places

how attractive they must
have been to the empty

pocket eyes. What lives
could have changed

save for the honesty
of finders?

Like the four men in
the north. The ones with

the heebie-jeebies on
their skin. They ate their

fill. They hid a portion
but the guilt of famine

led them home to
doubting ears, to acres

of empty stomachs.
A story vetted

The enemy had indeed
left their buildings.

I never considered my
empty wallet a prophecy.

I never considered
finders keepers

losers just accept you’ve
made a difference.

The sounds of
phantom chariots

make me give until
the hungry come home.

This is the trickle down
of my ancestors.

God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.