Jewish Journal

Tag: Torah Portion

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  • Torah portion: Speeding up to slow down

    5 days ago

    In one of my favorite essays by the humorist David Sedaris, he recounts his experience of chasing after his husband Hugh on their various vacations. Sedaris writes, “Most of Hugh’s and my travel arguments have to do with pace. I’m a fast walker, but he has longer legs, and likes to...

  • Torah portion: Jacob, the imperfect and perfected patriarch

    2 weeks ago

    At the beginning of our parsha, we find Jacob utterly alone, en route to exile, without friends or family. He is a lonely immigrant en route to a foreign land. What produced this sordid state of affairs? 

    The answer is, of course, the cunning trickery that Jacob employed in order...

  • Torah portion: Somebody else’s dream

    By Rabbi Lisa Edwards

    3 weeks ago

    I had the pleasure last week of a reunion with an old friend. Through a leisurely evening of reminiscing, we recalled the moments of profound influence each of us had made on the direction of the other’s life. 

    My friend remembered that in a wary moment 28 years ago, I encouraged...

  • Torah portion: Love and loss —  two ways about it

    November 4, 2015 | 1:10 pm

    Last week, I had a root canal. It turns out that I had a crown that had never been permanently cemented — I only received temporary cement that eventually washed away, allowing bacteria to move in. 

    I could not believe I had not gone back to the dentist to have it permanently...

  • Torah portion: One night in Tokyo

    October 28, 2015 | 10:54 am

    Although I was just a kid, I still remember my walk to synagogue on Feb. 12, 1990. It stands out because I passed a newspaper, and on the front page was something I had never dreamed of seeing.

    There he was, laying on the floor, out for the count — the unbeatable Iron Mike Tyson,...

  • Torah portion: Abraham—a magnetic leader

    By Rabbi Daniel Bouskila

    October 21, 2015 | 11:13 am

    While waiting in line at a Los Angeles International Airport gift shop last week, I noticed a colorful display of magnets. One in particular caught my eye. In attractive red, yellow, green and purple fonts, it read: “RISK more than others think is safe, CARE more than others think...

  • Torah portion: Do I have your attention?

    October 14, 2015 | 11:49 am

    It was a heart-stopping photo that flashed through social media and around the world last month: A toddler, Alan Kurdi, face down, dead upon the Turkish shore, the Syrian refugee’s sturdy toddler shoes pointing downward as the shallow waves caressed his still face. 

    Death by...

  • Torah portion: Yom Kippur a coming home for the Jewish soul

    October 8, 2015 | 11:07 am

    It happens every year. People come to services for Rosh Hashanah and remember how meaningful Judaism can be in their lives. They fast and pray fervently on Yom Kippur and come up to the rabbi to talk about their great revelation: They are Jews and are going to start coming to...

  • Torah portion: From error to forgiveness

    September 30, 2015 | 9:26 am

    Rest assured, there is a perfectly good reason why the Shabbat Torah portion for Sukkot all but ignores Sukkot: All the juicy references to the holiday have been used up. 

    We have already read the explicit commandments to celebrate in booths with the lulav, “so that future...

  • Torah portion: That precious moment

    September 24, 2015 | 10:34 am

    When I was pregnant with my daughter, some two decades ago, I fell in love with the idea of a natural childbirth, one without drugs or surgery. I read testimonials from women who described their natural deliveries that were followed by a beautiful time of bonding together with...

  • Torah portion: Miracles on the plains

    By Rabbi Dov Fischer

    September 16, 2015 | 10:23 am

    We live in an age of miracles — as, in fact, every age has. In ancient times, miracles could be seen more clearly because God revealed Himself more manifestly. He spoke directly to our forebears. He smote Egypt with Ten Plagues, delivered the Jews from bondage to freedom, divided...

  • Torah portion: Time for a change

    By Rabbi Anne Brener

    September 8, 2015 | 4:33 pm

    Later generations will ask [when they] see the plagues and diseases that God has inflicted upon the land ... they will say, ‘Sulphur and salt has burned all its soil. Nothing can be planted. Nothing can grow. ...’ All ... will ask, ‘Why did God do this to the land? Why this great...

  • Torah portion: The secret to happiness

    September 2, 2015 | 10:33 am

    We all want to be happy. Yet, happiness is elusive, and even defining happiness is a challenge. 

    Throughout our history, we have turned to the Torah for wisdom and guidance. Does the Torah have anything to say about happiness? A line in this week’s Torah portion may provide the...

  • Torah portion: ‘I am walking because our babies are dying’

    August 26, 2015 | 11:31 am

    On Aug. 19, I sat down with an African-American grandmother from Detroit to share breakfast. We sat at a plastic table under a tent in the parking lot of Ebenezer Baptist Church West in Athens, Ga. I was there to take part in America’s Journey for Justice, an 860-mile march from...

  • Torah portion: Justice and mercy

    August 19, 2015 | 10:41 am

    Judaism understands both mercy and justice to be divine attributes, and yet these two traits stand in direct contradiction. To be merciful requires a suspension of what justice demands. To be just requires a suspension of the compassion that leads to mercy.

    On the High Holy Days,...

  • Torah portion: Importance of choice

    By Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater

    August 12, 2015 | 11:36 am

    There are many things in our world that we humans feel are not in our control. I often hear about the “market” deciding what to do, even though the stock market is an entity we created and that we control. Major issues such as poverty, hunger, climate change, war and certain world...

  • Torah portion: Why I’m proud to be Israeli

    August 5, 2015 | 3:08 pm

    Last week, Jewish-Israeli terrorists committed an atrocious crime against humanity. They entered a Palestinian village outside Nablus in the West Bank, and burned down two houses. In one of the houses, a family of four was sleeping: a mother, a father, a 4-year-old boy and his...

  • Torah portion: How to make teens excited about Judaism

    July 29, 2015 | 10:47 am

    Recently, a mother invited 30 teens, all Jewish day school graduates, to spend Shabbat services and eat lunch at our Chabad center in Bel Air. The goal was to give them a look at “traditional” Judaism. 

    In typical teen fashion, they gathered outside during services and lunch, and...

  • Torah portion: Not just wandering—living, Parashat Matot-Masei (Numbers 30:2-36:13)

    By Rabbi Dov Fischer

    July 15, 2015 | 1:32 pm

    In this week’s double Torah portion, we read in Chapter 33 of Bamidbar (Numbers) about the many dozens of stopping points where the Jews encamped in the Sinai Desert during our people’s four decades’ sojourn from Egypt to Israel. Verses read like these: “And they journeyed from...

  • Torah portion: Fundamental rights, Parashat Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)

    July 8, 2015 | 1:29 pm

    I recently returned home from the Union for Reform Judaism’s Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, where I made a tallit for my youngest daughter to wear when she becomes a bat mitzvah next year. While I was busy with dyes and paints in Northern California, however, Israel’s Minister of...

  • Torah portion: Be prepared, Parashat Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9)

    July 1, 2015 | 1:34 pm

    I remember years ago being with Michael Meade, one of the greatest storytellers in North America, when he shared the Irish folk belief that before a raconteur can truly tell a story to a group, he must prepare for it by telling another, different tale. Judaism has always recognized...

  • Torah portion: The mystery of limited vision, Parashat Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1)

    June 24, 2015 | 11:04 am

    We are often reminded in our lives about the limits of what we can know, what we ought to know and what we can’t know. Tragedies, heartbreak and, yes, abundance all remind us in their own way that there is so much to life that is unknowable. 

    This existential frustration is most...

  • Torah Portion: Bloom and Stone, Parashat Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32)

    By Rabbi Lisa Edwards

    June 17, 2015 | 11:43 am

    In 2013, I traveled in Nepal with six dear friends, including two Americans who have lived there on and off for several decades. The amazing land is filled with an endlessly fascinating history and charming, friendly people, but my travel companions and I frequently noted the...

  • Fury and faith: Parashat Shelach Lecha (Numbers 13:1-15:41)

    June 10, 2015 | 12:29 pm

    Is God just a child who needs to be cajoled into good behavior? If He got His way, would He have murdered the lot of us as punishment for our cowardice in this week’s parsha, and have others carry out the same on their fellow man going forward? This is what one can easily conclude...

  • A walk to remember

    May 14, 2015 | 4:33 pm

    Most mornings, I can be found walking the streets of my neighborhood, shoes laced up, with a baseball cap firmly in place. Especially in winter, I see this as one of the great gifts of living in Southern California, where weather so often permits such a routine. 

    I love to...

  • Judge with generosity

    By Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

    April 30, 2015 | 2:12 am

    “With righteousness shall you judge your fellow.”

    So reads a verse in this morning’s parsha (Leviticus 19:15). The rabbis comment, “From here we learn, that we are required to judge others favorably, to give them the benefit of the doubt.”

    This is a beguiling sort of...

  • Four rabbis on Parashat Shemini

    April 17, 2015 | 1:25 pm

    In this Torah portion, God commands Aaron and his sons to make the burnt and sin offerings at the Tabernacle. When God accepts the offerings, the people shout with joy. But when two of Aaron’s sons make an offering that was not commanded of them, they die. God describes to Moses...

  • Rabbi Sarah Bassin on Parashat Shemini (Leviticus 9:1 11:47)

    April 17, 2015 | 1:24 pm

    If you have spent any amount of time with a 3-year-old, you know this age comes coupled with a barrage of “why” questions: Why do you stop at red lights? Why do you put milk in your coffee?  Why do birds chirp?  

    These questions can be exhausting for parents, but they represent...

  • Rabbi Jonathan Hanish on Parashat Shemini (Leviticus 9:1 11:47)

    April 17, 2015 | 1:21 pm

    We are all human, so we all stumble at some point in our lives. If and when our stumble is discovered, we pay the price for our actions through repentance and transformation, and then, hopefully, we move forward and leave the past behind.  But, on occasion, our actions come back to...

  • Rabbi Chaim Mentz on Parashat Shemini (Leviticus 9:1 11:47)

    April 17, 2015 | 1:17 pm

    In the early years of American Jewish history, there was a debate about whether American life was different from the shtetl life of Europe. Many embraced the idea of assimilation and secularization, yet others held strong and kept their traditional religious practices in this...

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