I was invited to give some thoughts on Rosh Hashanah on Rosner’s Torah Talk at the Jewish Journal. May this new year bring us opportunties for personal change and connection with one another.
Today we were privileged to name our daughter. Heres the PDF of the ceremony and below is an explanation for her name: Ashira: Arya Na’ama- your first name Arya is Babylonian Aramaic for lion, אריא. In English we are spelling it A.R.Y.A. There are so many reasons why we picked this name for you. First of all, you’re named for your great grandfather Leonard Konigsburg. Leonard means lionhearted and his hebrew name אליעזר starts with aleph hence אריא. Your great grandfather, my sabba would have loved so much to have been able to meet you. Unfortunately he died the year your abba and I got engaged, 11 years ago. Even so, we still feel the strong impact he had on our family.
Dvar Torah given at Kehilat Hadar June 2, 2018 הָאִ֥ישׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה עָנָ֣ו מְאֹ֑ד מִכֹּל֙ הָֽאָדָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה׃ Now Moses was very humble, more so than any other person on the face of the earth. This verse from our parashah has always bothered me for a number of reasons: Why tell us this in context is when Moses’s siblings are gossiping about his Kushite wife? Moshe meets with heads of state and has face-to-face conversations with God. The theme of humility doesn’t really fit in here. The phrasing, most humble man on the face of the earth is particularly jarring. Even saying “very humble” feels at cross purposes with the idea of humility. If you believe that Moshe wrote down the Torah this feels even more incongruous. If Moses was actually humble, would he really have written this verse about himself? Is this even true? Was there no other person on the planet as humble as Moses? How would anyone know?
Dvar Torah given at Kehilat Hadar Shavuot Retreat May 19, 2018 Parashat Bamidbar deals with counting the people. And oftentimes, this section is glossed over because counting and lists are boring. / Obviously, the Torah thinks there’s something of interest here, as do I, which is why I’m bringing it up. Looking at the relevent verses:
Dvar Torah given at Ramah Darom Passover Retreat April 5, 2018 On seder night we experience leaving Egypt, on the 7th day of Pesah is the day of crossing the Red Sea. We tend to think of this as a celebration. Shirat Hayam, the poem glorifying God for performing this miracle is part of our daily liturgy. And it tends to be through this lens that we think back on this event. But in the leining that we just read we see that this is not exactly how it happened. The Israelites, at the shore of the sea saw the Egyptians coming after them what do they do? They complain:
Dvar Torah given at Kehilat Hadar, August 23, 2014 Re’eh contains the laws of what you can and can’t eat- a system that evolves into Kashrut as we know it. And there are many rules. Rules about separate dishes and about kosher certifications, special rules that apply to knives especially if they are used to cut onions and chilis. And then there’s Passover!
Dvar Torah given at Ramah Darom Pesah Retreat, April 16, 2014 Hag Sameah. Shortly in Musaf, depending what siddur you’re using, we will read the following words: וקרב פזורינו מבין הגיום ונפצותינו כנס מירכתי ארץ Gather our scattered from among the nations and our Diaspora from the edges of the world והביאנו לציון עירך ברנה ולירושלים בית מקדשך בשמחת עולם and bring us with rejoicing to your city Zion and to Jerusalem and your temple with everlasting joy. ושם נעשה לפנך את קרבנות חובותינו …
Shavua Tov! It is such an honor for me to be here tonight, for the installation of my father Rabbi Randall Konigsburg. Just this morning we read about the details, rites and rituals of the portable sanctuary. Over and over, we read that all was built to precise specification, according to God’s instructions. For example, one verse reads: ויעש משה ככל אשר צוו ה’ אותו כן עשה And Moses did all that God commanded him to do, so he did. (Exodus 40:16)
This morning- I got to minyan early. I’m standing in the synagogue, reconnecting with someone I haven’t seen in years when three others walk into the room. One of them says, “great we have four people.” To be honest I don’t remember his exact words, but I do remember math. When does 2+3=4? When one has the xx character trait thereby making her ineligible to count in an Orthodox minyan and apparently rendering her invisible and not a person. This experience has happened to me before- Unfortunately, I have been relegated to non-person status in cities all over the world, almost always by men, who, I hope, don’t realize the pain that they have caused . What makes this time different is that I’m at the Siach conference- an environmental and social justice conversation. More info here. It is certainly a great group of very talented people. Most of the conversations that I’ve had have been with fascinating people, presenting the challenge of not wanting to extract myself from intense and good discussions. I was having a great time until this moment, and I’m not sure what to do with it. Perhaps I was tired because this morning I just