All posts by Ebn Leader

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Ebn Leader

Celebrating Creation: The 25th of Elul and Rosh Hashanah

Rabbi Eliezer taught: the world was created on the twenty-fifth of Elul… This implies that Adam was created on Rosh Hashanah. In the first hour [of that day] the idea arose [in the Divine mind to create humankind]… in the ninth [hour Adam and Eve were] commanded [not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge], in the tenth [hour they] transgressed the commandment, in the eleventh [hour they were] judged,… Read Article →

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Environmental Reflections Relating to the Destruction of the Temple

What has our religious life lost with the destruction of the Temple? Most of the people that I speak to in our liberal communities seem to feel that we have not lost much. Overall we seem to have accepted the position of the 19th century reformers that saw the temple as an expression of primitive religiosity that we had no reason to long for having gone through the enlightenment. There is… Read Article →

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Getting to Fifty: Some texts evoking thoughts about Shavu’ot as the day following the 49th day

Introduction Shavo’ut is unique among the biblical pilgrimage holidays in that it is not identified by date. It is celebrated on the day following the completion of counting seven weeks, or forty-nine days beginning on the day after the celebration of Pesah. In the Zohar, these forty-nine days are connected to the rabbinic notion of “gates of understanding”. When the Israelites were in Egypt they defiled themselves with all kinds… Read Article →

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Sefirot HaOmer

Over the past few years, the somewhat esoteric practice of connecting the counting of the Omer to the seven lower sefirot has been gaining popularity in liberal Jewish circles. The usual structure for this practice is to devote each of the seven weeks to one sefirah and within each week to devote one day to each sefirah. Every day is thus dedicated to a primary (of the week) and secondary… Read Article →

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The Time of Our Freedom: A Text Study for Pesach

Celebrating freedom is often a challenge. For much of Jewish history, Jews celebrating Pesach had to respond to the challenge of celebrating freedom while living as an oppressed minority. As a result, our tradition is full of teachings and stories about celebrating Pesach and connecting to the essence of freedom even in the most oppressive conditions. Celebrating Pesach in the great Jewish centers of Israel and the USA in the… Read Article →

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A 21st Century Hassidic Teaching on Shabbat Zachor

Remember what Amalek did to you as you were leaving Egypt…and when YHVH your God brings you to a place of rest from your surrounding enemies in the land YHVH your God is giving you as your portion, blot out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens — do not forget. (Devarim 25:17-19) To understand why, the paragraph begins by telling us to remember what Amalek has done but… Read Article →

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The Sacred and Mythic Dimensions of Yom Ha’atzmaut

Our Jewish holidays have a complicated relationship with history. On the one hand, they tell a story of occurrences in time from the creation of the world (Shabbat) through the exodus from Egypt (Pesah) the destruction of the temple (Tisha b’Av) and down to the establishment of the State of Israel (Yom Ha’atzmaut). yOn the other hand, the historical awareness of many Jewish people today negates the possibility of accepting… Read Article →

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On Teachers and Students

This week of parashat Shoftim is framed by the yahrzeits (anniversary of passing) of a master and disciple. This past Sunday, the 28th of Av, was the yahrzeit of R David HaKohen, the Nazir. Friday, the third of Elul, is the yahrzeit of his teacher, R Avraham Yitshak HaKohen Kook. Basic outlines of their biographies and work are easily accessible on the internet so I will not reproduce them here…. Read Article →

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Tisha b’Av: From Pain to Judgment to Forgiveness

In my understanding, our ritual year cycle is not about knowing or remembering particular beliefs or mytho-historical facts. It is about opening ourselves to certain experiences, and the ritual memory being no more and no less than the portal to that experience. While some forms of knowledge can be assimilated on the spot, a directed experience, as opposed to a random experience, takes a great deal of preparation. Much of… Read Article →