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Sukkot: Repentance Again?

September 17, 2021 – 12:03 am | One Comment | 812 views

I sit in my study late at night after breaking the fast of Yom Kippur. As I do every year, I feel euphoric. The day was so intense, we invested so much effort, and the Divine dividends that will be paid out over the year will surely be generous. We …

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Shabbat Shuvah: Jewish Guilt

September 4, 2021 – 11:02 pm |
guilt-innersteram.ca

Have you ever heard of Jewish guilt? Well, of course. If you have a Jewish mother, you know about Jewish guilt. But the truth is that Jews have little to do with guilt. In fact, the Catholics claim to have cornered the market on guilt. Considering the Catholic doctrine of Original Sin—humans are inclined to sin from birth, they are probably right.

Yet, we talk much about Jewish guilt. The myth is that Jewish mothers specialize in using guilt to manipulate their children into doing their bidding. It is a myth. Jews don’t believe in inherent guilt. Jews believe in inherent innocence. We are born innocent, and only grow guilty when we have done something to feel guilty about. Read the full story »

Nitzavim: Tears of Joy

August 28, 2021 – 10:57 pm |
tears-innerstream.ca

 The eyes of a Jew on Rosh Hashanah—the annual day of judgment, are often filled with tears and remorse. We know we will be judged for our behavior. We also know that some of our behavior has been compulsive, some of our personality has been toxic, and some of our …

Ki Tavo: The Joy Imperative

August 20, 2021 – 2:17 pm |
joy

Joy is an imperative in the Jewish tradition. In describing the terrible calamities in store for our people if we turn from G-d, the Torah says it will occur, “because you did not serve G-d, your G-d, with happiness and gladness of heart, when [you had an] abundance of everything.”[1]
In …

Ki Tetze: A License To Eat

August 14, 2021 – 10:52 pm |
not yours - innerstream.ca

When you work in your fellow’s vineyard, you have a license to eat his grapes. When you visit your neighbor’s vineyard, you don’t have a license to eat. If you pluck a grape during a visit without permission, it is theft.
How much can you eat if you work in the …

Shoftim: The Individual

August 10, 2021 – 9:53 pm |
individual-innerstream.ca

Today I want to talk to you about the individual. When nations go to war, they institute mandatory drafts. Wartime drafts are different from peacetime drafts. In peacetime drafts, soldiers are eligible for all kinds of exemptions. During war, everyone must serve. Exemptions are rare.
In Jewish law, however, it is …

Re’e: The Pivot

July 31, 2021 – 11:11 pm |
pivot-innerstream.ca

In the course of life, there are always moments of pivot. A moment when we recognize that we have strayed from the proper path, and we pivot—reverse course and head in the opposite direction. The moment of pivot is, at the risk of sounding cliché, pivotal. It isn’t merely a …

Vaetchanan: The Full Moon

July 18, 2021 – 7:14 pm |
full-moon

This Shabbat will be special because the full moon will shine on Friday night. The full moon occurs every month but is most important in the month of Av. The Temple’s destruction on the ninth day of this month was the low point in Jewish history. At that time, it …

Devarim: Response to Suffering

July 10, 2021 – 10:35 pm |
faith and suffering - innerstream

Suffering is sadly familiar to Jews. We have a long and painful history of suffering. Our sages taught that the Torah was given on Mount Sinai because Sinai is etymologically similar to sinah, which means hatred. From the day that we were chosen to become a light unto the nations, …

Matot Masei: The Three Weeks

July 3, 2021 – 11:42 pm |
three-weeks

We are in a time of year called the three weeks. During this time, Jerusalem was sacked twice, once by the Babylonians circa 420 BCE and again by the Romans in 69 CE.  Each time, our enemies struck directly at the Jewish heart by destroying the Temple. The Babylonians destroyed …