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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  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
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