Book review: David Hopen, “The Orchard”

In one sense, this is a story I’ve seen many times before. A “fish-out-of-water” tale, involving a sensitive kid from one neighborhood, is ejected from Point A and sent to Point B. Point B happens to be an elite prep school full of elite-prep-schoolers, and they all live in neighborhoods that embody the opposite of […]

Commentary on Exodus: Terumah

Last night’s Torah study had a big surprise for me. I ended up coming back to a text I first met many years ago, and had all-but forgotten since. I didn’t remember how the text started, or how it ended, or any of the context surrounding it. But right away, I dunno, I remembered – […]

Commentary on Exodus 19:3-20

This week’s parsha, “Yitro,” climaxes with the nothing less than the revelation of the Ten Commandments. Everything about this portion is Grandiose, with a capital G. Yet, last night, while wading through the Spectacle and the Awe, I found myself being less and less interested in the big stuff, and more interested in the personal, […]

Commentary on Exodus 14:8-18

There’s always so much to comment on, but this week, my thoughts can be boiled down into trying to understand a single word: kavod. There are a half-dozen ways to translate it, and each of them brings a new flavor to both the word and the verses where the word appears. The translation I worked […]

Commentary on Exodus 12:29-42

This week’s parsha is a real challenge. It begins with a staggering atrocity, and ends on the exact day when the Israelites, finally, escaped the yoke of slavery in Egypt. There is a deeply disturbing juxtaposition here: revolutionary upheaval provides both fresh suffering and fresh life. One person’s slave rebellion, is another person’s social collapse. […]

Commentary on Exodus 6:29-7:13

I came across a few passages during last night’s Torah study that fascinated or disturbed me enough that I actually had thoughts about them in the middle of the night. Can’t say that’s ever happened to me before – and I was thrilled. When I am most engaged with whatever work I’m doing, I’ll usually […]

Game 5: Chaos, as a force for good

I was sitting in temple with my cell phone burning a (metaphorical) hole in my left pant pocket. It was the most solemn day of the year. I was an hour into a set of concluding services. I freely admit that I already have at least one thing to atone for in 5780, because my […]

Review: BMPDF Overdrive

We all have our weaknesses and mine is for the distorted electric guitar. I love it. I love the various types and timbres and all the science behind why these things work—it’s all interesting to me. I belong to a number of fan-forums for people who love this stuff more than I do (and certainly […]

Your 2017 Nationals–if they were guitars

In the lead-up to the All-Star Game, Major League baseball launched a social media experiment: one last push to get some all-universe baseball players into the game, guys who hadn’t made it on popular vote alone, by tallying how many times a specific hashtag was hashed. It does blow my mind that an all-universe player […]