All posts by Arthur Green

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Arthur Green

Liberation: A Sacred Moment

(Passover; Readings for First Days–Exodus 12:21-51 and Leviticus 22:26-23:44) On the second day of Passover, Jews begin a period called sefirat ha-omer, when we publicly count off each day for the next fifty, concluding with the holiday of Shavuot. (Hence the Greek term Pentecost, for the fiftieth day.) While originally a practice used for calculating the agricultural season, the rabbinic tradition used it to establish a deep connection between these… Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi Arthur Green

Judaism as a Path of Love

An address to Spiritual Directors International on  April 10, 2016 A rabbinic source dating from the early middle ages quotes the famous second-century sage Akiba as saying: “Had the Torah not been given, the world could have been conducted by the Song of Songs alone.” Quite a world!  Instead of the quaking, fiery mountain of Sinai, we would have only “Behold thou art beautiful, my love! My beloved has gone down… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah creation

Back to the Garden, and Forward

The holiday season has come and gone. Moses has ascended Mount Nebo, looked across the Jordan and suddenly the world is created all over again. Here we are, back at Genesis 1:1, “in the beginning.” Our Torah begins with God’s creation of the world. This stands as the basis of our Judaism, as it does of all religion, which emerges out of gratitude for our existence. We acknowledge a God… Read Article →

Uncategorized 3305

A Priesthood of the Imperfect

Parshat Emor begins with a discussion of taboos around priestly purity, forbidding members of the priestly tribe to have contact with the dead or to engage in certain mourning practices. The rabbis read the verses to exclude the situation of a “met mitzvah,” an abandoned corpse, one for whom there is no one else to engage in the rites of burial — in such a case, the priest is permitted… Read Article →

Community Blog tenthlogo_final_v1

Envisioning a Jewish Future

This article originally appeared in Looking Forward, the journal of the Aspen Center for Social Values. Let us begin by distinguishing between two questions. The posed, “What will American Jewry look like in 10 years?” includes various elements — deeper assimilation, higher intermarriage rates, increasing disillusionment with Israel, etc. — all of which seem quite inevitable despite our great efforts to prevent them. “What might American Jewry look like in 10 years?” is a… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Tissot_Jethro_and_Moses

Learning From the Friendly Outsider

I always find it strange that this Torah portion is named for Yitro (Jethro), Moses’ father-in-law. In this passage, we are about to approach the mountain to partake as we are able of Judaism’s innermost “insider” event, the revelation at Sinai. This is the eternal moment around which all of Judaism is constructed, the event at which the souls of all Jews ever to exist are said to have been… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Sukkah

Sukkot: Staying a Little Bit Longer

My sukkah, my little holiday booth, is up. A few of my students came by today, pulled the old wooden frame with its lattice-work sides out of the garage, and put it together.  The whole construction job took about 15 minutes, but created a moment of great significance and joy. Sukkot is far and away my favorite holiday of the Jewish year. It forces me to spend time outdoors, something… Read Article →

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Reb Zalman: In Memoriam

Among the countless things I learned from my dear teacher and friend Reb Zalman z”l, is the statement of our shared master and teacher R. Nahman of Bratslav, צריך לעשות מהתורה תפילה, that “you need to turn teachings into prayer.” Zalman especially loved that idea. He would ask about a teaching or wise saying, sometimes about a way you formulated your belief about something: “But can you daven it?” I… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah index

Blending Torah and Activism

I am a scholar and teacher, having devoted much of my life to shaping a Judaism that will work both for me and for others in our contemporary world. I have one sibling, my sister Paula, who works in international peacebuilding, especially in Asia and Africa. Recently, I received an email she sent from Addis Ababa, where she was meeting with a group of women from war-torn South Sudan. I… Read Article →