Rabbi’s Blog

Reflections from Rabbi Philip


The prayers during the High Holidays are long, but understanding the themes of the prayers can change the experience from slogging through page after page of obscure Hebrew prayers to reflecting on powerful themes and applying them to our own lives. The third prayer of the Amidah during the High […]

Why the Extra Page?


You would not expect a meditation on the destruction of Jerusalem to be funny, but the classical midrash on Lamentations 1:1 contains a list of stories that almost certainly are trying to be funny [whether they succeed, depends on how much you like ancient humor…]. While the author of the […]

Tisha B’av 2018


This Saturday is the Hebrew date of the 17th of Tammuz. Long observed as a fast day, it commemorates when the Babylonians breached the walls of Jerusalem ultimately leading to the destruction of the first Temple on the 9th of Av in 587 BCE. The three weeks between this day […]

17th of Tammuz



Many communities have the tradition to switch melodies during the middle of the poem Lekha Dodi, but why? For better or worse, our current practice of switching after the 5th stanza may not specifically have a deeper spiritual meaning, but it does show the strange interaction between the role of […]

New Melody for Lekha Dodi


Services on Friday night, February 23rd are cancelled because of the snow. Here is a D’var Torah for Parashat Tetzaveh The second half of the book of Exodus describes the construction of the portable sanctuary and the ritual objects which filled and that the priests would use in their service. […]

Tetzaveh: Snow Day D’var Torah


During parashat Beshallach, we read the song that the Israelites sang as they crossed the Sea of Reeds. While many liturgies include the full passage as part of daily and Shabbat prayer, two verses are more familiar because of its inclusion in the third blessing of both the evening and […]

Mi Khamokha



  In the original SNL sketch, Adam Sandler joked that the only Hanukkah song he ever heard was the Dreidel Song, which is why he wrote his Hanukkah song in solidarity with everyone else searching for better Hanukkah songs. The liturgy and Israeli folk tradition have a number of Hebrew […]

Maoz Tzur


While most people are familiar with the blessings and Debbie Friedman melody for havdalah, the ceremony includes a series of verses before these blessings. We will use this melody from the Modzitz community of Hasidim for these introductory verses before singing the familiar melody for the blessings. These verses come […]

Havdalah


We will begin using this melody from Mishkan Chicago for the final lines of the third psalm of Kabbalat Shabbat, Psalm 97. Most of the psalm is a description of God’s majesty over the earth, and the main theme is that God is supposed to instill some sort of justice. […]

Psalm 97