About Dr. Joel Roffman

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So far Dr. Joel Roffman has created 43 blog entries.

B’chukotai- 5783 – Recognizing What Is Ours To Do

Thank you for joining me today and helping me celebrate the 59th anniversary of my bar mitzvah. I have tried to give the D’var each year on this day, and I read through some of these recently. On my 50th anniversary, I spoke of the moment – the exact moment – when I became a […]

Vayakhel-Pekudei – 5783 – Becoming God’s Hosts

After I signed up to give the D’var today, I looked at the narrative in Vayakhel. “Construction of the Tabernacle.” Gather the goats’ hair, the dolphin skins (dolphin skins in the desert? Whatever.), etc. “They made 50 loops on the edge of the outermost cloth . . .” Ideas for a D’var? Not yet. Then […]

Vayishlah 5783 – Jacob’s Transformation is Our Own

A recent subject of National Public Radio’s show called RadioLab, was “transformations.” Examples were given of how, sometimes surprisingly, people are not necessarily locked in to a specific pattern of behavior. Behavior can and sometimes does change. This is an appropriate theme for my D’var Torah, as it relates to Jacob, because today’s parashah is […]

Vayera 5783 – Abraham’s Chutzpah – the Foundation of Judaism

Well, things hadn’t been going so well. Adam and Eve screwed up their cushy surroundings in the Garden, Cain displayed his anger management problems in the most violent of ways. The Tower of Babel demonstrated the hubris that humans could have. Build a tower to the heavens? Why not? Gd created order, but humans created […]

Shabbat Shuvah 5783 – The Sacred Power of the Days of Awe

Each day during morning minyan in the month of Elul, we hear the blast of the shofar. On Rosh Hashanah as we hear the shofar, we read in our  prayer book that the still, small voice is speaking to us. And we hear it if we  listen. The hazzan’s voice stays with me for a […]

Ki Teitse 5782 – Against Hate

(Adapted from a teaching by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.)

Ki Teitse contains more laws – 72 – than any other parsha in the Torah, One verse, however, stands out because it is so counter-intuitive:

“Do not despise an Edomite, because he is your brother. Do not despise the Egyptian, because you were a stranger in his land.” (Deut. […]

Shoftim 5782 – Revisiting My Own Theology

Our friends, Dick and his wife are classical secular Jews. They do not attend synagogue regularly and do not follow the traditional rituals that so many of us do. As an example, his wife told Nancy about a particular restaurant with delicious pork chops. Well, Dick told me over dinner last week that he tries […]

Pinchas 5782 – Newsflash: The Changing of G-d’s ‘Mind’

A few weeks ago, Nancy and I were in Israel. A truly fabulous trip! One day, our group went to the Kotel – the Western Wall of the old temple. As you may recall, several years ago, there was a big brouhaha. Women, it seemed, were demanding to be able to pray there. Imagine such […]

Naso 5782 – The Importance of a Having a Name and of Being Named

At my dear mother’s funeral in 2002, I read part of a letter to her from the corporate offices of Walgreen’s. “Dear Mrs. Tobias (She had remarried for a time, several years after my father died), Thank you for your note to us about Ernie Gibson.” Ernie Gibson was the pharmacist at the Walgreens on […]

Kedoshim 5782 – Holiness in the World; Holiness within Ourselves

Today’s parashah, Kedoshim, is chock full of rules, and they fall into various categories. One category is called called chukim. These are commandments that seem to make little sense. An example prohibits us from mixing linen and wool in our clothing. Why is this sinful? Gd says it’s so, and so it is. Oh, various […]