Burton L. Visotzky


A Sense of Direction

By Burton L. Visotzky

The book of Exodus comes to a close this week with laws relating to gift-giving for the Tabernacle and the details of its construction. In what appears to be a fund-raiser’s fantasy, Moses relates God’s command that the Israelites “give their heart’s desire” (Exodus 35:5), and they give so much he has to ask them to stop! This Sabbath we also announce the coming month of Nisan in our synagogues, and with that proclamation Passover preparation begins in earnest.Read More


In the Time of the Plagues

By Burton L. Visotzky

A couple of years ago, my family and I vacationed in Egypt. In Cairo, we stayed at the Marriott Hotel in Zamalek, a former palace situated on an island in the Nile. At night, kept awake by the constant din of automobile traffic, we could gaze at the reflection of the lights on that mighty river. In the morning, there it was, just outside the window — the River Nile! We stepped out on the balcony to get a better look at the famous river, took a deep breath at the awesome sight, and then coughed and coughed while our eyes stung from the pollution.Read More


Korah; or, the Possibility of Change

By Burton L. Visotzky

This week’s Torah portion, Korah, tells a spectacular story of rebellion and punishment. Korah challenges Moses and Aaron’s rule with a deceptively simple argument: “All of the community is holy.… What makes you so special that you raise yourselves up?” (Numbers 16:3) Coming as it does from his very own tribe, Moses falls into despair.Read More


Ignoring the Icky Stuff

By Burton L. Visotzky

This time of year rabbis often despair over the weekly Torah reading. Our portion covers much of what Bible scholars technically refer to as “the icky stuff.” We read of skin eruptions, blemishes, leprosy of houses, genital flows and fluxes.And yet there is much “Torah” in this Torah portion. First, one could follow the rabbis of LeviticusRead More


Gold and Silver and Wisdom

By Burton L. Visotzky

In the book of Job, the title character asks, “Where can wisdom be found? Where is the source of understanding?” (Job 28:12). Not bad questions, all in all. Rabbi Tanhum ben Hanilai suggested that these questions refer to King Solomon, who spent so much of his life seeking wisdom. God rewards Solomon, explaining, “Since youRead More






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