HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? 

What constitutes the great American sin? Consider an antecedent in this week’s Torah portion, “V’Etchanan” (“I implored”)—Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11. My commentary involves door-to-door sales, carried interest and mega yachts. Re Torah, Moses implores God to let him lead the Israelites into Canaan. God, angered by Moses’ previously striking a rock, rather than speaking to it, to…

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A VERY VISIBLE INVISIBLE MAN 

The basketball great Bill Russell died a week ago at 88. During the 50s and 60s, he led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA championships in 13 years. But this post isn’t about basketball. It’s about life. Russell was an outspoken man. He was never concerned about the impression he made, but his words made…

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A WEDDING IN MAINE 

My friend Collin, whom I mentored for conversion to Judaism, married Hanna in Maine. Carolyn and I attended, enjoying a small vacation in the Pine Tree State. Ziplining at the wedding was only of the delights we shared. Air travel concerns? Sure. But our Delta flight from SFO to New York’s JFK left on time.…

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NUMBERS—BIBLICAL AND AMERICAN 

The British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli is cited for mentioning “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Numbers can confuse us. This is true of Torah and American gun violence. This week, we begin the Book of Numbers. One year after the exodus from Egypt, God commands Moses to conduct a census of Israelite males age 20…

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POTATO KUGEL AND SHARED HUMANITY 

Last weekend in Los Angeles, Carolyn and I helped our son with a project for his summer anthropology class at Pasadena Community College. It involved a beloved family recipe and offers a lesson that should be familiar to Americans but too often isn’t. Yosi had to make a short video and write up a report…

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