David’s Corner – July 18, 2022

Discipline maintains focus

No sooner had the Israelites defeated their foes


Then they decided to celebrate by fornicating with Moabite women.


God responded by inflicting yet another plague and hundreds died.


Pincus, Aaron’s grandson, picked  up a spear


And crying, “Enough of this self-sabotage,”


Pierced an Israelite and his Moabite lover.


The plague stopped and God praised Pincus


For understanding that the cycle of victory, 


Followed by undisciplined mischief could not stand.


Focus turned to naming Joshua, son of Nun 


As Moses’s successor with a worthy ritual.


With Eleazar, son of the departed Aaron,


In place as the Head Cohen,


The sacrificial calendar was reviewed,


With a precise focus not only on the daily sacrifice rituals,


But also on those rituals that marked special festivals each year.  


A full accounting of the animals to be sacrificed was made.


With that the parasha named for Pincus became a lodestar


For centuries to come.

David’s Corner – July 11, 2022

The Donkey

Tossed to and fro

Pulling to the opposite

Side that Balaam did.

The donkey had been this agitated before,

But never before had he been able to say,

In a human tongue:

“You silly man!

What kind of prophet are you

To force a donkey 

To do your will?”

“And what kind of donkey 

Are you to speak to me

In my tongue?” responded Balaam.

“I’ve brayed at you for years,

But you never listened,” said the donkey.

“Now that I can speak in a human tongue

Would you like to know what I think?”

“I care not what you think!” said Balaam 

“I am waiting for God to tell me

Whether I should curse or not curse

The tribes of Israel.

“And why do you think I can 

Speak at all?” said the donkey.

“Hasn’t it occurred to you

That God is speaking 

This moment through me?

You can waste your time

Pulling me to and fro as usual

Or you can listen to what 

I have to say.”

Balaam sighed.  “So tell me”

“You are not to curse the people of Israel.

Rather, you are to bless them.”

“Bless them?  Really?

That cantankerous people?

You cannot possibly be God 

If you are suggesting such a thing.”

With that, Balaam’s foot 

Was caught in the stirrup

And he fell off the donkey,

Who dragged the prophet along

Until Balaam cried for mercy.

The donkey was succinct.

“You are to bless the Israelites.

And you must not reveal your source.

If you do, your King Balak 

And his entourage will chase you away,

Thinking you a madman

For even suggesting a donkey could speak.”

“But you have spoken just now!” cried  Balaam.

In response, the donkey simply brayed

But he did let Balaam dust himself off

And climb back on.

It was some distance from 

Where Balaam needed to be

To report God’s decision

And he needed to arrive before sunset,

For it would soon be shabbat.



David’s Corner – July 4, 2022

Respect and Disrespect

When you consider how disrespectful

Korach, Dathan, and Abiram were toward Moses 

And by extension to Adonai,

It isn’t hard to discern a certain relief in their destruction.

But what about Adonai insisting on correct sacrificial ritual

For an animal that may not even exist?

Maybe by respecting a “red cow,”

We are respecting Adonai’s wishes

Without really having to know why.

It is like a blank check of trust

That may come in handy

When deeper concerns come up,

Such as the difficult reality of handling

The impurity of dead bodies.  

Not only are the Israelites respecting

Adonai’s wishes,

They are respecting the generation

That now must die

Before their descendants can enter the land.

In this parasha, both Miriam and Aaron die.

Guess who that leaves?

And why does Adonai say

That Moses will never cross over

To the Promised Land?

Moses displayed disrespect to Adonai

By hitting his rod against a rock,

Instead of trusting that Adonai

Would easily cause the water to flow

Without such violent action.

Moses takes this lesson to heart.

In dealing with the Israelites’ enemies.

The tribes of Israel,

The foreign kings are told, 

Only wish to pass through their lands,

Not to conquer them.  

(The Israelites even politely offer to pay 

For any well water used.)

It is only when the kings react violently

In their refusal to let the Israelites pass,

That they are destroyed.

Adonai, as we have seen in the Torah,

Cannot and will not tolerate disrespect

So why keep disrespecting Adonai?

Do the Israelites really wish to suffer

The same fate as Korach and company?

That is the question of the parasha

And Adonai awaits our answer 


David’s Corner – June 27, 2022


We know that Amalek

Was the worst of the worst

But really, Korach,

When you add up all the folks

Who were swallowed up

With you 

And those who died in 

The plague that followed

Yours was a worse crime,

For you destroyed a part

Of your own people from within,

While casting doubt on Moses and Aaron.

How could you not remember 

The fate of Nadab and Abihu,

When they each picked up a fire pan 

And placed incense in it?

You deserved to die,

For your rebellion was restless stupidity.

Korach, you the man!


David’s Corner – June 20, 2022

Woulda, shoulda, coulda.

It’s likely that the exodus generation

Invented this phrase.

Instead of taking the opportunity

To enter and fight for the Promised Land

They played on their own worst fears

Listening to the naysayer scouts   

Rather than listening

To the inner voice of possibility.

Their great reward:

A sentence of up to forty years

Wandering in a broiling desert

So they could drop dead 

Short of the Promised Land.

It’s been whitewashed

By commentators 

As the necessity of the older generation

To die  out so their children

Would enter the land.

What saints!

Don’t fool yourself.  

And don’t make the same mistake in your own life. 




David’s Corner – June 13, 2022

It's Grumpy Time

The Israelites are complaining about 


Having to eat mana all the time.


Miriam complains about 


Moses’s new black bride from Cush


Aaron complains about Moses 


Getting all the attention from the Lord,


Acting as if he is the only person the Lord talks to.


The Lord hears all this and is chagrined.


How to get them all to shut up?


Up to now the Lord’s response was merely 


To zap the troublemakers.


But if the Lord keeps zapping Israelites


They will never choose the Lord 


Or the society 


The Lord is trying to establish for them.


So the Lord takes a step back and decides


On different strategies


If the Israelites won’t stop complaining about 


Their diet lacking meat,


He’ll give them so much meat 


They’ll be throwing up for days.


This works!  The Israelites shut up already.


As for Aaron, as high priest to the one God, 


The strategy is straightforward:


The Lord tells him that Moses is unlike any leader 


That the Lord has communicated with.  


The Lord doesn’t have to talk to Moses 


In riddles or dreams.  


For the Lord can speak directly to him, 


Knowing that Moses will immediately get it.


Chastened, Aaron shuts up immediately.


Handling Miriam is trickier.  


She is Moses’s beloved sister, 


Who had saved him from certain death as a baby.


You can’t zap such an important person, 


However insulting she.has been to her brother.


Besides, Moses himself begins 


Begging the Lord not to punish her.


Moses is a good boy, a good brother, 


But he has to understand


Miriam would be better served 


By retreating from the camp for seven days.


How do you do this?  


Well, you strike her with a skin disease,


By doing so, the Lord immediately 


activates one of  the laws 


That he has dictated to Moses:


With a skin disease, the victim must be held 


Outside the camp for seven days. 


To assure that Miriam will not be left behind 


By her impatient compatriots,  


Another law is invoked:


The  Israelites are not allowed to break camp 


Until the Lord signals them to do so.


This works too, but far better 


Than the way the other complaints were handled.


In this case, the Lord is appealing to justice 


By invoking laws.  


Even better, by applying this to one of Moses’s siblings, 


The Lord is providing a precedent that 


All Israelites can see for themselves.  


A law isn’t thus merely an abstract:  


It can be concrete and practical and, yes, 


Far more merciful than 


The one response of zapping all complainers.


The rule of law has been established.


David’s Corner – April 25, 2022


After the deaths of his sons Nadab and Abihu.

Aaron said not a word —

Not to his brother Moses,

Nor to his wife, Elisheba,

The mother of Nadab and Abihu,

Nor to his other sons, 

Eleazar and Itamar,

Who worried greatly about him.

Aaron awaited HaShem’s further wrath,

Entertaining fantasies of personal destruction,

Instead he awoke each day,

Astonished  he was still breathing.

Then one day 

Moses whispered  in his brother’s ear:

“You are not to die now.”

Aaron spoke as if for the first time:

“But how am I to live carrying so much guilt?”

“You shall follow HaShem’s commands to the letter,

You will atone for yourself, your family and then your people.

In so doing,

You will be a model of repentance for your people,

So that they can atone.

Aaron followed HaShem’s commands

Sending a goat to Azazel

Sacrificing a bull in purification

Confessing sin,

Making expiation for the priests and for

All the people of the congregation.

And to this very day, the leader of a Jewish community

Models Aaron’s atonement, 

Not by actual animal sacrifice,

But by first reading aloud from the torah,

Each step of Aaron’s repentance

And then by confessing his own sins

As his congregation confesses theirs.

In this way, neither the leader 

Nor the congregation 

Carry their guilt into the indefinite future,

But are instead purified

And forgiven by HaShem.


David’s Corner – August 31, 2021

Netzavim (Deut. 29:9 - 30:20)

The parasha represents a shift in tone on the part of HaShem.  In the last parasha, Ki Tavo, the approach is one of tough love.  It discusses blessings and curses, with a heavy emphasis on the latter.

Netzavim begins with the whole community entering officially into the covenant with HaShem.  It is a high moment, yet it is fret with peril. 

HaShem warns the Israelites that they must not think themselves immune to the sanctions has has described earlier.  HaShem will never forgive that behavior. (29:19)

So far, the tone has still been harsh. But then, in Chapter 30, there is a change. The Israelites are told that even when things are at their worst, if the people return to HaShem, HaShem will “restore your fortunes and take you back in love.” (30:3)

It is useful to remember that HaShem is speaking not to the generation that left Egypt.  They are already doomed.  Rather, HaShem is speaking primarily to that generation’s sons and daughters.  They are the ones who will enter the promised land.

And so a different tone may be necessary.   Perhaps it is because HaShem realizes that younger people don’t respond so well to being ordered around.  Or perhaps HaShem wants this generation to be responsible for themselves and act as mature adults. Remember that there will be no Moses to guide them now.  HaShem will no longer be traveling in a cloud.

How to make this generation feel responsible for their lives becomes the central issue.  The answer is not easy, but it is simple. HaShem reminds the young Israelites that they have the capacity to choose. They can choose to behave a certain way and that way leads to disaster.  Or they can choose the way of HaShem and that leads to prosperity and contentment.  HaShem urges his people to choose life.  (30:19)


Passover 2022

Passover 2022

It was a major success.
Forty eight people attended – 30 non-members and 18 members.   
Food was fantastic and a lot of it. Everyone raved about the food and the evening.  The room looked really, really nice (white tablecloths with a blue one over and white napkins), service great—the gentleman  in charge was always going around making sure everyone was happy. Hector was there the whole night and he couldn’t have done more for us.  He asked if he could keep one of the Hagaddahs and would Maureen Davis sign and date it for him. She did gladly!

David Rosett our service leader led us out of the land of bondage to enjoy matzah, charoses and chopped liver!


David’s Corner – June 21, 2021

Balak (Numbers 22:2 - 25:9)

Balaam is the unsung prophet of the Torah.  In the course of his appearance in the parasha Balak, Baalam transforms the perception of the Israelites from dreaded outsiders who are to be cursed, to a powerful people who enjoy HaShem’s approval.

Baalam’s contribution at first seems highly unlikely.  He has been hired, after all, by Balak, King of the Moabites, to curse  the Israelites and he doesn’t refuse the job per se.  Baalam does say, when approached by the elders of MIdian, that he awaits HaShem’s instruction.

HaShem, when told of the approach by these elders, tells Baalam not to curse the Israelites because they have been blessed.  HaShem allows Baalam to travel with the elders if they invite him, but that he must do whatever HaShem commands.

When Ballam does go with the elders, HaShem mysteriously changes his mind. An angel of HaShem puts himself in the way.  This causes the ass that Balaam is riding to bolt, and Balaam spends a great deal of time getting the recalcitrant animal to go where his master wants.  On three different occasions Balaam beats the ass.

Then the animal talks back!  In perhaps the only time in the Torah, a prophet is upstaged by a talking animal.  And Baalam is caught in the middle of a fight between HaShem and Balak.  What is he going to do?

If Balaam were anything like Jonah, he would try to flee.  But unlike the later hapless prophet who finds himself dumped overboard and swallowed by a whale, Balaam stays the course. He will do as HaShem commands.

Three times Balak tells Balaam to build an altar and curse the Israelites.  Three times Balaam follows through on the altars, but as for cursing, Balaam says he will only do what HaShem tells him to do.   

By the third time Balaam is not only refusing to curse the Israelites, but is actually blessing them.  They are to be the victors in the struggle with neighboring peoples.  The transformation complete, Balaam leaves the scene, unheralded and unthanked.