Writings from Rabbi Naomi

Rabbi Naomi often blesses us with writings of her thoughts and teachings.
Below is a selection of teasers for recent posts.  Click on the title or "read more" to view the entire post.  Use the pager at the bottom to step backward in time.


  • Shabbat Chazon - Shabbat of Vision

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    How do we cultivate positive vision when we know something awful is coming?

    2,000 years ago the rabbis of the Talmud grappled with this question as they coped with the historical trauma of the destruction of the ancient temples in 586 BCE and 70 CE. To get a sense of the enormity of this events, read this short article: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-temple-its-destruction/.

    Both of these catastrophes occurred on the ninth day of the month of Av, which the rabbis made into a day of mourning. Tradition teaches that the First Temple was destroyed because the people indulged in idolatry, forbidden relationships and murder, and half a millennium later the Second Temple fell because, although learned in Torah and dedicated to mitzvot, the people tolerated sinat chinam, baseless hatred in the community. The more things change, the more they stay the same. We struggle with similar issues today. Tisha B'av is observed with a sundown-to-sundown fast and rituals of mourning such as sitting on low chairs or on the ground, refraining from wearing leather shoes (a luxury), and weeping.

  • Stay Connected

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    In Talmud we read, “Do not separate yourself from the community.” אַל תִּפְרֹשׁ מִּן הַצִּבּוּר -
    Al tifrosh min ha-tsibur - Pirkey Avot 2:14
    This has been a guiding principle, a central tenet of Jewish tradition for nearly two thousand years. For the rabbis of the Talmud it was paramount to keep the community together and foster communal harmony. How painful it is now for rabbis to say: Separate yourself! Stay at least six feet away from everyone but the members of your household!

  • Making Blessings, Washing Hands and Staying Home

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    In that great compendium of Jewish wisdom called Talmud, we read that a person should make 100 blessings a day:

    תניא היה ר’ מאיר אומר: חייב אדם לברך מאה ברכות בכל יום שנאמר (דברים י:יב) ועתה ישראל מה ה’ אלהיך שואל מעמך

    It was taught in a baraita, Rabbi Meir used to say: A person must bless one hundred blessings every day, as it says (Deuteronomy 10:12): “Now Israel, what (mah) does God ask of you?” – Don’t read “mah” (what) rather “meah” (100). (Menachot 43b:15)

  • O Jerusalem! A Reflection on Chanukah 2017

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    For the last few nights the crescent of the waning moon has been beaming bravely in the winter sky, while growing smaller and smaller.  And today at noon my yard was flooded with golden light, as if at sunset, as the sun slunk low across the horizon, barely peering over the treetops.  The darkening moon and early-setting sun can mean only one thing: it’s time for Chanukah!