David Shneyer Writings

Lag B’Omer and the Affirmation of Life

Tonight, is the 33rd day of the Omer. Known throughout time as Lag B’Omer it is a special day during the 7 weeks between Pesach and Shavuot. After an intense four weeks of planting and cultivating the land there is a reprieve. Our sages also credit the day with the […]

Ethics of the Sages

We are now midway through the Period of the Omer, halfway to Sinai. During these six weeks there is a lovely tradition of studying a small text from the Mishna, called Pirke Avot, the Ethics of the Sages. It is an extraordinary anthology of ethical teachings by the Tanna, the […]

Counting of the Omer in Today’s Climate

In Jewish time we are in the second week of the counting of the Omer, an ancient practice and mitzvah when a measure of grain was brought to the Temple each of the 49 days after the beginning of Pesach. The focus is clearly on the land, it’s productivity and […]

Is Our World in a State of Tamei-ness of Tzaraat?

On the surface, this week’s Parasha, called Metzorah, refers to a physical malady, a continuation of last week’s theme of the concept of Tamei, often translated as impurity. Many commentators reject this sole translation of Tamei, teaching that the malady also indicates a defect in our consciousness and spirit. This […]

Parsha Tazria and the Maladies of the World

The first several verses of Parsha Tazria describe a healing process for women postpartum. How does this fit into the narrative of Leviticus? Much of Leviticus, until now, describes in great detail the use of animal offerings to cleanse the soul, to pray for peace and express gratitude for life. […]

Taanit Tzibar Gathering in Support of Ukraine People

I offered the following message today, March 16, at the Taanit Tzibor Gathering across the street from the Russian Federation Embassy. A little over 100 people came out. “Welcome. Thank you all for taking time today to be here. Across Wisconsin Ave. is an embassy whose leaders are guilty of […]

Modern Day Haman and Fasting

This Shabbat is called Shabbat Zachor, the Sabbath of Remembrance. What are we remembering? Coming just a few days before Purim, we recall the story from Deuteronomy describing the ruthless attacks by Amalek on the women, children, and elderly in the Sinai wilderness. Unfortunately, we don’t need to remember Amalek […]

Purim and Parsha Pekudey

Our hearts are with the people of Ukraine. We pray that Putin cease this outrageous aggression. It is an aggression against humanity and democracy and the earth on which they also trample. It is a threat to all of us and, also, to Russian citizens themselves. A new Haman desecrates […]

Parsha VaYakeyl and Personal & Collective Responsibility

From out of the emotional turmoil and accusations of disloyalty in the previous Parsha there emerges reconciliation, forgiveness and deeper acceptance in the covenantal promise.  A difficult transition has taken place in the consciousness of the nation and they are now ready to commit and take personal and collective responsibility for […]

Teachings of Tetzaveh for Today’s World

With all the strife in our world we welcome the teachings of Tetzaveh, Exodus 27:20-30:10) this week. The word Tetzaveh, from the root Tzav, implies “connection.” It is also in the word Mitzvah, right actions that connect us to each other and the Life-force of the universe. In the Parasha […]