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Chukat    5784   | Sarah Gershman

07/16/2024 01:45:32 PM



This week’s parsha taps into a primal fear of mine - that I will live a good life - and then make one mistake that will destroy everything. This is what seems to happen to Moshe. He does so much good, saves the Jewish people, changes the course of history  - and then he gets punished for making one mistake? He gets punished for hitting a rock?

And it’s...

  Shelach 5784   | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

07/01/2024 10:41:08 AM


Spy vs Spy

We inaugurated a new tradition this Shabbat by having all of the Torah reading this morning read by men named Joshua. Yeshar Koach to all the Joshua’s who participated this morning and Mazal Tov to all of their families. This is a very fitting way to observe Parashat Shelach. Yehoshua and Kalev are the heroes of our parasha as the only spies who resist the evil council of...Read more...

Behaalotcha 5784     | Kate Rozansky

06/24/2024 01:59:07 PM


The Talmud at the Tonys

Last Sunday night, I was watching the Tony awards - because in every rabbinical student there is a former theater kid just bursting to break free. To my surprise, one of the winners, in her acceptance speech, name-checked the Talmud and quoted Pirke Avot. I found this delightful. But I shouldn’t have been surprised to see the Talmud at the Tonys - because the...Read more...

Bamidbar 5784  | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

06/18/2024 09:33:09 AM


Thou Shalt Not Kill

Decades ago the Israeli novelist Amos Oz visited Sweden and, as a famous novelist, received an audience with Olof Palme, the prime minister of Sweden. Palme was an outspoken critic of both the Soviet Union and the United States and supported the PLO when it was nearly universally designated as a terror organization. Palme served as Prime Minister of Sweden from 1969 -...Read more...

Emor 5784   | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

05/20/2024 10:22:42 AM


Being Strict and Being Lenient

I know two jokes about kohanim. This is the good one:

A man walked up to his rabbi and said, “Rabbi, make me a kohen.” 

The rabbi responded, I’m so sorry, I can’t make you a kohen. 

The man then said, “I’ll give you $500 if you make me a kohen.”

The rabbi just...

Acharei Mot 5784   | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

05/06/2024 11:44:22 AM


Its Way of Life

When I was in high school I once picked up the Thanksgiving edition of the Village Voice and saw a humor column titled something like “Fifty things to be thankful for about living in America.” After many years I can only remember three of the items on the list. Reenacting our Civil War is considered a harmless activity. For a country where it is not a national...Read more...

Tazria  5784 | Kate Rozansky 

04/15/2024 03:41:18 PM


Seeing and Returning

This week’s Torah portion is kind of gross, isn’t it? But what seems like a rather arcane discussion of different kinds of oozing lesions, is, in fact, a model of community care, led by the Kohanim, the priests. Parshat Tazria has much to teach us about how we, as a nation of priests, can and must be present for the ones we might otherwise be tempted to look...Read more...

 Shimini   5784 | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

04/09/2024 10:00:18 AM


Such Things Have Befallen Me

Sefer Vayikra has a bad reputation as a book without much plot. Perhaps for this reason, anytime there is narrative action in Sefer Vayikra it grabs so much of our attention and the death of Nadav and Avihu after they bring a “strange fire” has all of the features of a gripping story. On the very day that the mishkan is inaugurated and begins operation,...Read more...

Vayikra   5784 | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

03/25/2024 10:39:42 AM


Kol Nidrei of Purim

אור זרוע לצדיק ולישרי לב שמחה

“A light is sown for the righteous and joy for the noble hearted”

With the agreement of God and of the community, in the heavenly council, and in the council of people, we give leave to pray with the transgressors among us.

Six months ago we gathered in this room...

Vayakhel 5784 | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

03/11/2024 02:40:54 PM


Boundaries and What They Protect

The morning of August 11, 2008 began like any other. Sara went to a routine prenatal exam and I drove to Princeton to spend the day unpacking boxes in our new home. Minutes after I arrived in Princeton Sara called me from her doctor’s office: something was not quite right and our twins would need to be delivered that day. 

“Should I come right now and meet you?” I asked. Sara explained that there was a medical need for a six hour delay before the twins could be delivered and I should spend another hour or two unpacking boxes before meeting her in the hospital.Read more...

Tetzaveh 5784   |   Kate Rozansky

02/26/2024 10:28:26 AM


Who Puts on The Cohen Gadol’s Pants? 

This week,  a friend of mine from college who has since become a Lutheran Minister, asked me to be a guest on her Bible podcast. The subject of the podcast was Pesach, and as we were logging off, I said, “Thank you so much, this is such a nice break from what I’ve been working on,” and she said, “What’s that?”   “I’ve...Read more...

Terumah 5784 | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

02/20/2024 09:41:42 AM


The Place Where People Seek the Highest

A few weeks ago I attended the Shepherd Park Citizens’ Association potluck gathering. The event took place just up the road at the Washington Ethical Society and the room where we ate is the same meeting room where the Ethical Culture Society has their own gatherings. Over the stage, front and center, was the motto of the Ethical Culture Society:...Read more...

 Mishpatim     5784   | Rabbanit Sara Wolkenfeld

02/13/2024 04:27:35 PM


Law is My Love Language


There’s a famous story about a famous rabbi, let’s say it was Rav Soloveitchik, though I think it has been told in different forms about different rabbis. His scholarship ranged from the highly theoretical to the extremely practical, and he could of course give detailed answers to any halakhic question. When his wife, Dr. Tanya Soloveitchik, was...Read more...

Yitro    5784   | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

02/12/2024 03:11:14 PM


As One Person with One Heart

If you ever attended a Pesach Seder at our home you would have heard my sister in law, a”h, ask how it is that we sing Dayeinu and declare that it would have been enough for us if, for example,  God had only taken us out of Egypt but not made judgements upon the Egyptians, אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָנוּ מִמִצְרַיִם וְלֹא...Read more...

Bo 5784   | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

01/26/2024 10:27:20 AM


Say Little and Do Much

There are two great movie versions of the story of Yetziat Mitzraim, the exodus from Egypt: Steven Spielberg’s Prince of Egypt and Cecille B. Demille’s The Ten Commandments. Both draw heavily from midrashim to flesh out sparse details of the Torah’s own narrative. Both can be seen as a sort of modern midrash that reflects the concerns and priorities of the...Read more...

VaYechi 5784 | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

01/26/2024 10:27:16 AM


Instruments of Cruelty

Before we were married, before we were even formally engaged to be married, Sara and I each spent a portion of the summer of 2001 studying Torah in Israel. The terror wave that characterized the Second Intifiada was still ongoing - I’m sure some of you remember the bombings at Sbarro’s in Jerusalem that summer. As a way to reassure her parents, Sara promised...Read more...

VaYigash 5784 | Kate Rozansky

01/26/2024 10:27:13 AM


How to be an Abomination

My son Sam’s favorite place to be is up on the bima, and not only to get lollipops.  What he really wants to do is “give a Dvar Torah.” Actually, some of you might really like his drashas - they’re a little esoteric but very efficient. Any chance he gets, he climbs and yell his favorite words. “Excavator! Soccer! Tractor Ted!”  He takes the...Read more...

VaYeshev 5784  | Rabbi David   Wolkenfeld

01/26/2024 10:27:09 AM


Between Persecution and Salvation

When Sara, Noam, and I lived in Jerusalem we befriended a Christian family whom I met in the playground. There was some exchange among the  parents where my ability to speak both in English and Hebrew was very helpful to them and after spending several Shabbat afternoons together at the playground, I invited them to our home for a Shabbat meal and...Read more...

Lekh Lekha 5784   | Rabbi    David Wolkenfeld

01/26/2024 10:27:06 AM


And You Shall Be a Blessing


I never get as much done “after the hagim” as I hope to. There are always too many deferred plans and meetings and tasks to accomplish when the holiday season comes to an end. I am sure I am not alone in having that experience. This year, I thought I would preempt the end of the holiday season by using the opportunity to speak to you on Shimini Atzeret morning to...Read more...

 YK 5784 | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld 

01/26/2024 10:27:03 AM


Qualitative & Quantitative

Three books are opened on Rosh Hashanah. The fully righteous are written and sealed immediately for life. The fully wicked are written and sealed immediately for death. And those in the middle have their judgment suspended until Yom Kippur. If they merit, they are sealed for life. If they do not merit, they are sealed for death. 

This...

 RH2 5784 | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld 

01/26/2024 10:26:58 AM


Education and Choice

When I was a teenager, whenever my friends did something slightly edgy, we would say to one another, “what you just did is illegal in 5 states.”  Well, times have changed and federalism is fun, and I can now add to the list of every-day joyful activities in our community that are illegal in certain jurisdictions. In particular, this shul exposes young...Read more...

 RH1 5784 | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld 

01/26/2024 10:26:42 AM


Writing the End of the Story


There are sad stories, and there are happy stories and there are Jewish stories.

As every student of drama and literature knows, tragedies end in a funeral; comedies end with a wedding. Everyone attending a Shakespearean tragedy or comedy knows how it will end before the curtain rises. And the same is true for someone...Read more...

Nitzavim 5783 | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld 

01/26/2024 10:25:39 AM




When David Ben Gurion made his first state visit to the United States as prime minister of Israel he gave a speech about the power of Jewish memory. How many Americans, he asked, know what day the Mayflower set sail for North America? How many Americans know what food was eaten on the Mayflower? And yet, every Jewish child knows precisely what day our...Read more...

Ekev 5783     | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

08/09/2023 01:25:03 PM


Underfoot Mitzvot

If you were approached without warning and asked to name “the most important mitzvah” what would you answer?

This morning I want to suggest that the most important mitzvah is the one you do not yet observe.

There are many ways to classify mitzvot. There are commands and prohibitions. There are time-bound mitzvot which can only be...Read more...

 Va’etchanan 5783 | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

08/09/2023 01:19:06 PM


That is Your Wisdom and Understanding

This week was my first “holiday” week at Ohev Sholom. Because the “holiday” in question was Tisha b’Av, I didn’t have to worry about cooking a big holiday meal, but preparing for Tisha b’Av was stll a major focus of the week. And, in the midst of my preparations for Tisha b’Av, I had stolen pockets of time to worry about...Read more...

Matot Ma’asei    5783 | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

07/17/2023 09:32:52 AM


Finding Equilibrium

One of the techniques used by television writers to build excitement as a TV series reaches its grand finale is to bring back characters from earlier episodes for cameo appearances in the final episode. This resolves plot lines, brings closure to narrative arcs, and rewards the loyalty of viewers who can appreciate seeing a character from the first episode on screen...Read more...

Hukat - Balak 5783 | Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

07/03/2023 05:07:16 PM



One of my favorite rabbinic jokes is particularly appropriate for a Shabbat such as this one. I first shared it publicly ten years ago, I shared it again a few weeks ago, and I’m going to share it here this morning:

There was once a new rabbi who, in the excitement and business of moving to a new community, somehow managed to show up on his first Shabbat...Read more...

Divrei Torah and Kids Corner

12/17/2021 01:22:52 PM


Listen to Maharat Friedman's weekly parasha podcast
"Life Imitates Torah." 
Click here to listen, or subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. Read more...

Divrei Torah and Kids Corner

12/10/2021 11:36:53 AM


Listen to Maharat Friedman's weekly parasha podcast
"Life Imitates Torah." 
Click here to listen, or subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. Read more...

Divrei Torah and Kids Corner

12/03/2021 01:25:38 PM


Listen to Maharat Friedman's weekly parasha podcast
"Life Imitates Torah." 
Click here to listen, or subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. Read more...
Mon, July 22 2024 16 Tammuz 5784