In life, we are often tasked with a blessing and a curse. In Parashat R’eih, we are reminded to always look at the blessings and the curses in front of us. Chapter four of Parashat R’eih, commands us, “there shall be no needy among you,” only a few verses before it tells us, “and there will never cease to be poor ones in your land.” Being deeply responsible for eradicating poverty is a fundamental commitment of our Jewish tradition, but how can one fully eradicate poverty? Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss what it means to accept responsibility for the hungry and poor in our midst.
It’s natural for people who have much more than what they need to spend time thinking about the things that they do not have, rather than being thankful. In many of our lives, there is an extremely prominent divide between those who have more than they need, and those who struggle. In Parashat Eikev, Rabbi Rick Jacobs highlights the divide between what we are entitled to and what we take for granted each day. How do we give spiritual meaning to what we do have rather than focusing on what we could have had?
Ten is an important number in Jewish tradition, and in this parashah we read the second telling of the Ten Commandments. Though many consider the essence of Judaism to be the Ten Commandments, they aren’t necessarily the most important of the 613 commandments. More important than being able to recite the Ten Commandments from memory is embodying the essence of those commandments and practicing them. God tells Moses, “Go up on the high place and raise your gaze, look out,” challenging him to look up from his everyday tasks and see beyond the present moment to the future. We can all be inspired by that challenge, and look towards a future where each of us can distill Judaism into its essence, perhaps the way Micah taught: “Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss Parashat Va-et’chanan.
Parashat D’varim, the opening portion of Deuteronomy, encourages us as individuals, congregations, and communities to avoid getting stuck in one way of thinking. Though there is comfort in the familiar, sticking to the status quo inhibits innovation. Remember that, without innovation and risk-taking in our Reform Movement, there would be no URJ camps or women rabbis. This week, we are encouraged to appreciate how far we’ve come, and all we’ve done in our given spaces, but to also take a step forward into the future. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss Parashat D'varim.
You have probably heard the saying that life is a journey and not a destination, but what exactly does that mean? Wherever we go in life, we are constantly meeting new people, experiencing new things, and exploring new places. Even if something seems like a destination, like landing a new job or moving, people constantly learn and grow from the experiences that they have in any given place. Parashat Matot Ma-sei reminds us to journey forth, journey far, and journey deeply through life, and that the masa (journey), and not the destination, is home. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses the importance of changing environments and making new connections to achieve clarity in life.