All posts by Rabbi Elisha Herb

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Elisha Herb

I was not at Sinai

Parashat Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20) The people stand at Sinai as would-be converts to the Torah covenant, long since created in the mystical realms but yet to be received by the people Israel. The Torah tells us, it is “…not only with you that I make this covenant and this oath, but with [1] those who are standing here with us this day before the LORD our God and [2] those… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Elisha Herb

On Partial Truths

Parasha for the  Last Day of Pesach A fire and brimstone Christian preacher once taught me that the cunning of the snake in Eden was his mastery of “half-truths.” He knew he could hook Eve by saying of the fruit of the forbidden tree, “You will not ‘surely die’— – God knows that on the day you eat of its fruit, your eyes will be opened and you will become… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Elisha Herb

Wisdom for Crossing Over

Parashat Va’etchanan/Shabbat Nachamu, Deuteronomy 3.23-7:11 From the top of Mount Pisgah, Moshe surveys “the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that goodly hill-country and the Lebanon.” (Deut. 3:25) The land on which he would never set foot; the land that had been the collective Israelite destination for forty years; the land of their ancestors. Now 120 years old, Moshe entreats God to allow him to cross over. Surely, this… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Elisha Herb

Hope is the Thing We Can Do

(Parshat Vayechi, Genesis 47:28-50:26) Diversity can be an excruciating experiment. One person’s story can unravel another’s; our all-too-human desire to be able to narrate our lives in some coherent way can be profoundly challenged by someone else’s need for coherence. At times, diversity fosters a sense of chaos, and efforts to find coherence become especially challenging as our perceptions of difference come into focus. We may feel as if things… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Elisha Herb

Tisha b’Av: Shabbat’s Unwanted Guest (Parshat Devarim, Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)

One of the most beloved and influential teachers and mentors in my life was Dr. Vincent Harding, of blessed memory. A black Mennonite and champion of nonviolent resistance, he once chastised those Jews who enjoy the privileges of passing as white Americans. For Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement, which included the martyrdom of Jewish activists, he thanked and praised us. And, yet, he pointed out, we often “hide… Read Article →