The Exonerated Five of the Central Park Jogger Case and the Book of Job

The Exonerated Five of the Central Park Jogger Case and the Book of Job

The connection between Netflix’s “When They See Us” and the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Job.

On a mid-August day of this year there will be Jews all around the world avoiding activities that bring them pleasure. It will be the commemoration of Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av), a holiday that acts as the catch-all day for the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people over the past three millennia — it is the date of the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, and the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto to name a few.

In order to create a solemn atmosphere, Jewish ritual mandates that ordinary, even necessary activities, be avoided. That means no eating food, drinking water, and observers of this day must even refrain from studying Torah. The only text that is permitted to be studied on this mournful day is the Book of Job. Continue reading “The Exonerated Five of the Central Park Jogger Case and the Book of Job”

Seize the Opportunity

Seize the Opportunity

Joshua 18:3

“Joshua said to the Israelites, “How long will you be lackadaisical about taking possession of the land which the Holy Blessed One, the God of your ancestors, has assigned to you?”

There was a meme used by the Obama campaign in the final few months of his Presidential contest against John McCain. The meme was a short video clip of a bicyclist nearing the end of a race.

The man, seeing an end in sight, began to shake his hands in the air feverishly to celebrate his soon-to-be victory. But due to his wild gesticulating, his balance was thrown off, so he crashed just before the finish line. So close, and yet so far. Continue reading “Seize the Opportunity”

All Human Life is Infused with Divinity

All Human Life is Infused with Divinity

Joshua 8:29

“And the king of Ai was impaled on a stake until the evening. At sunset, Joshua had the corpse taken down from the stake and it was left lying at the entrance to the city gate. They raised a great heap of stones over it, which is there to this day.”

Deut 21:22-23

“If a man is guilty of a capital offense and is put to death, and you impale him on a stake, you must not let his corpse remain on the stake overnight, but must bury him the same day. For an impaled body is an affront to God: you shall not defile the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.”

Continue reading “All Human Life is Infused with Divinity”

From Embarrassment to Empowerment

From Embarrassment to Empowerment

Lev 15:19 “When a woman has a discharge, her discharge being blood from her body, she shall remain in her impurity seven days; whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening.”

Jewish tradition has mixed feelings about what it means to come into adulthood. On the one hand, there is a ceremony put together to celebrate when children become b’nai mitzvah as they are now legally adults. Continue reading “From Embarrassment to Empowerment”

No Hypocrites: God Asks You To Walk The Walk

The leading voice of political commentary at the beginning of the 21st century was probably none other than Jon Stewart (and Rush Limbaugh on the right – but with noticeably less cultural sway).

If the core message of his nightly searing commentary had to be boiled down to a few words, it would be this: “the following people are hypocrites,” and then they would cue their patented video clips demonstrating the hypocrisy of said individuals. Continue reading “No Hypocrites: God Asks You To Walk The Walk”

Stories that carry us, stories that heal

One of the most fascinating aspects of the 929 project is seeing how the daily chapter interacts with the regular Jewish calendar. Whether it is the weekly Torah portion, the daily prayers, or a special holiday reading – they all have connections to the stories that we read throughout this two and a half year cycle. Recently, I found one such connection particularly inspiring as it reminded me the majesty of stories. Continue reading “Stories that carry us, stories that heal”