Posts

Showing posts from December, 2007
Shmot 2007/5768: "A World Without Children's Voices"
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

The very beginning of Shmot/Exodus includes the following familiar narrative:

"A certain man of the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw how beautiful he was, she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she got a wicker basket for him and caulked it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child into it and placed it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. And his sister stationed herself at a distance, to learn what would befall him. (Ex. 2:1-4)"
The power of Moses' birth is largely lost when read in the context of his rescue by Pharaoh's daughter. Once we realize that his birth immediately follows Pharaoh's declaration that every male child born be thrown into the river (Exodus 1:22), the act of a certain man and woman of Levi gains in significance.

In fact, says the Midrash:

"... when Mose…
VaYigash 5768/2007: "Closer, Come Closer"
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

An often overlooked message of the Joseph stories is the theology implicit in the way he explains the story to his brothers upon disclosing his identity. Joseph says:

"Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come forward to me." And when they came forward, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, he whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be distressed or reproach Yourselves because you sold me hither; it was to save life that God sent me ahead of you. It is now two years that there has been famine in the land, and there are still five years to come in which there shall be no yield from tilling. God has sent me ahead of you to ensure Your survival on earth, and to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance. So, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and God has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household, and ruler over the whole land of Egypt. (Gen. 45:4-8)"

In other words: The b…

Channukah 5768: "Contagious Flames"

© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

On the eve of the Seventh night of Channukah, these thoughts are shared in hope that the many internal conversations in our communities continue and ignite a healthy flame in the world around us. The circle perhaps begins in every individual, touching our shul community, our local neighborhood, state, our Country, Israel, and the world. As our Channukah experiences have likely contained many moments, both joyous and sad, I pray that all our homes be filled with increased light.

One classic source for an understanding of Channukah is found in the Talmud, in which we read:

"Our Rabbis taught: The mitzvah of Channukah is one light for a person and their household. The 'beautifiers' (Mehadrin) kindle a light for each member of the household. The 'extreme beautifiers' (Mehadrin min HaMehadrin), — Beit Shammai maintains: On the first day they light eight lights and thereafter they are gradually reduced, but Beit Hillel says: On the first day…

Prayer for Building an Aron Kodesh

Prayer for Building an Aron Kodesh
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Adonai, Infinite One, guide our hands.

Our hearts and minds are full of Yira, wonder, and Ahavah, love, as we commit to building this Aron Kodesh to house our sacred center, the Torah.

We have infused it with our imaginations, with history, with dreaming – and we pray that all who seek You find an aspect of this Holy Vessel with which to connect.

As we build, we build not just for ourselves, but we build for our children and for countless generations. As we place materials together, we mirror the builders of the Mishkan, Your temporary desert home from so long ago. We are mindful of the Beit HaMikdash, the Jerusalem Temple. We remember all the homes our community has known, and pledge to incorporate our community’s essence of this new container of Zikaron, Eternal Memory.

We build out of Ahavah, love, and Mesorah, the commitment to share and continue Jewish tradition. What we commit to building now is leDorot, forever.�…
A Reflection on Conservative Jewish Halacha© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

When inherited tradition and modern ethics collide, we might (and I believe should) define Torah according to Rabbi Ellie Spitz, who wrote "Torah is the unfolding narrative of the Jewish people." Our subjective sense of "what is right" IS Torah. And Halacha answers to Torah. So to the question: "if Halacha conflicts with ethics and reason, do we then reject the Halacha?" I respond as Maimonides did (according to Moshe Halbertal's "People of the Book"), by committing to making sure our implementation of the Torah conforms to our understanding of the world.

This is perhaps a reformulation of Rabbi Joel Roth's formulation of Halacha (in his "The Halakhic Process") as resting on the "grundnorm", a concept created by Hans Kelsen, who used the term to denote the underlying basis for a legal system. I believe that our grundnorm is "Torah", b…