Dani Passow

Dani Passow

Dani Passow serves as rabbi and educator at Harvard Hillel and is a researcher in the Program in Placebo Studies at Harvard Medical School. Previously, Dani was the assistant campus rabbi at Columbia University Hillel and a rabbinic intern at Congregation Shaare Tefillah in Newton, Massachusetts. A graduate of Cooper Union’s engineering school and formerly a researcher in chemistry and bio-engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, Dani studied in a number of yeshivot in Israel, including Yeshivat Har Etzion and Yeshivat Maale Gilboa. In 2012, he received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. Dani served as rabbinic consultant for the Sukkah City design competition in Union Square, NY in the fall of 2010 and from 2010-2011 directed the Tav HaYosher—a non-profit program of Uri L’Tzedek, which certifies and promotes kosher eating establishments that treat employees fairly. He lectures and writes frequently about Judaism and social justice and was awarded the 2010 Whizin Prize for Jewish ethics.

Miketz

Yosef’s get-out-of-jail free card, his ability to interpret dreams, thrusts the young son of Yaakov into a position of responsibility that would have been difficult to imagine when his brothers first sold him. After interpreting Paroh’s dreams as foretelling seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine, Yosef, in a strikingly courageous act, inserts himself as unsolicited economic counsel, advising Paroh to store grain during the years of abundance in order to be sold to the people during the years of famine.

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Pekudei

The Israelites’ first building project—the Mishkan—is about to be completed. We can recognize similarities between its construction and the building of our own communal structures: raising the funds, enlisting a contractor and choosing design elements. And yet, though modern communal leaders often ceremonially lay the cornerstone—complete with the entertaining and tellingly odd juxtaposition of dress clothes, shovel and hard hat—they rarely actively participate in the physical construction.

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Noach

Following the tragic and near-utter destruction of humankind during the deluge, Noach, the patriarch of the lone family to survive the flood, offers a sacrifice to God. The Torah records that God finds the smell of the sacrifice pleasing, but follows with a perplexing line: “God smelled the pleasing aroma, and God said in His heart: ‘I will not continue to curse the earth because of man, since the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again smite every living being, as I have done.’” Why would God respond to Noach’s sacrifice by stating that man’s heart is evil? Wouldn’t this statement about the innate nature of humankind have been more appropriate as a response to the corruption that precipitated the flood?

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Ha’azinu

Parshat Ha’azinu consists primarily of a beautiful poem recited by Moshe to the Children of Israel. In it, Moshe recounts the ups and downs of the people’s relationship to God, from moments of connection and revelation to times when the people turned away in rebellion. Before concluding with words of consolation, Moshe refers to the …Read More

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Shoftim

If one peruses economic literature on virtually any topic of significance, one will find multiple, and often competing, theories. In our social justice work—where there are any number of theories on which we could base our strategies for alleviating poverty—it is easy to become frustrated by the options before us. Especially because the problems we …Read More

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Chukkat

We read in Parshat Chukkat about the death of Miriam: “Miriam died and she was buried there. There was no water for the assembly, and [the Children of Israel] gathered against Moshe and Aharon.”[1] This odd and disjointed sequence of verses is puzzling, and leads the Talmud to connect Miriam’s death with the disappearance of …Read More

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Behar

Parshat Behar begins with a bold and challenging mitzvah: “For six years you may sow your field and for six years you may prune your vineyard, and you may gather in its crop. But the seventh year shall be a complete rest for the land, a Sabbath for God.”[1] Behar describes this sabbatical—or Shmita—as a …Read More

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Tazria

Parshat Tazria begins with the laws of circumcision: “When a woman conceives and gives birth to a male…on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”[1] It’s striking how this child, made in the image of God, innocent and pure, is subject to such a radical “fixing” so soon after birth. A …Read More

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Pekudei

The Israelites’ first building project—the Mishkan—is about to be completed. We can recognize similarities between its construction and the building of our own communal structures: raising the funds, enlisting a contractor and choosing design elements. And yet, though modern communal leaders often ceremonially lay the cornerstone—complete with the entertaining and tellingly odd juxtaposition of dress …Read More

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Mishpatim

After describing a series of laws dealing with property, damages, injury and other torts, our parsha concludes the section with a final warning: “Do not oppress the stranger; you know the feelings of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.[1] Explaining the seemingly odd placement of this verse, Rabbi Shimshon Refael …Read More

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