In this week’s Torah portion, we read the story of Pinchas who kills an Israelite out of zealous belief. There are many who equate “people of faith” with zealotry, doing anything to ensure the continuation of a religion or peoplehood. But how can we turn that definition around to the idea that "people of faith" are good, kind, caring people who tend to their community? We should not let religion be hijacked by zealots – not in the bible, and not today. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, examines Parashat Pinchas.
Parashat Balak teaches us to draw strength and inspiration from everyone around us. We read the story of how the Moabite King Balak tried, and failed, to destroy the Jewish people with the help of his sorcerer Balaam. How does a curse become a blessing? This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs highlights how we can welcome all types of people into the family of Judaism, whether they were born into it or not.
In Judaism, mayim, or water, is not only crucial to sustaining life, but it is also a symbol of wisdom and Torah. Parashat Chukat addresses the thirst that the Jews have while wandering the desert after Miriam the prophet dies, which also represents the yearning for the wisdom and nourishment that Miriam provided. The Jewish people are thirsty and eager to drink from the well of tradition. Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses Parashat Chukat, the Torah portion read on 7/16/16.
In Jewish history and culture, there has been no shortage of arguments; in fact, the entire Talmud is composed of arguments about some of the most important issues in history. In Parashat Korach, Korach is clearly upset and challenges authority – but why does he do this? Is he a rebel with a cause, or is he acting out with no clear intention? This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses the importance of intent behind leadership and fighting for a cause.