Jewish Journal

Tag: Torah Portion

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  • Lessons My Grandfather Taught Me

    By Rabbi Elazar Muskin

    April 11, 2012 | 11:18 am

    Every Passover, as I sit with my family at our seder, I inevitably think of my paternal grandfather, after whom I was named. I never met him. He died five years before I was born, and I was born on the anniversary of his burial. But from earliest childhood, I felt that my grandfather...

  • Learning to live with Leviticus

    March 29, 2012 | 5:54 pm

    Growing up, I related to the book of Leviticus and its sacrificial cult with indifference (what’s this got to do with me?) or embarrassment (does God really need us to kill animals, sprinkle their blood and burn their carcasses for ritual purposes?). But over time, I’ve learned...

  • Make the Old New Again

    March 21, 2012 | 1:50 pm

    At the ripe age of 8, I learned the Peter Allen song “Everything Old Is New Again.” It may have been an unusual choice for an 8-year-old to crave hearing over and over. But for me, this song was synonymous with dance class, doing the soft shoe that landed me on stage for the...

  • A place for being

    March 15, 2012 | 3:33 pm

    Imagine, amid the detailed planning, frenzied gathering of precious objects, painstaking construction and growing sense of anticipation, Moses stands before the people and says, Enough! “Let no man or woman make further effort toward gifts for the sanctuary!” (Exodus 36:6).


  • Ultimate Truths

    By Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater

    March 8, 2012 | 11:22 am

    Do you consider yourself an idolater? I ask the question in a serious manner, for one of the main aversions, according to the Torah, is the path of idolatry, a path we witness in our parasha this week, Ki Tisa, with the Golden Calf. Yet, in today’s modern world, what does it mean...

  • Holy Sanctuaries or Golden Calves

    February 23, 2012 | 9:48 am

    As human beings, can we know precisely what God wants from us? It might seem, from the beginning of this week’s parasha, that we can: “Bring Me gifts. You shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart is willing. And these are the gifts you shall accept from them”...

  • Protecting the innocent

    By Rabbi Yonah Bookstein

    February 16, 2012 | 1:01 pm

    “You shall not take up a false report” (Exodus 23:2).

    Steve Leaderman, 38, was on trial this month for failing to disperse, having been arrested on Nov. 30 during the final stand of the Occupy L.A. protest at City Hall Plaza. Tried before a jury, these criminal cases carry up to...

  • A love story

    By Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

    February 9, 2012 | 6:41 pm

    Many of us are familiar with the rabbinic image in which God lifts Mount Sinai above the heads of the Israelites, threatening them with death if they refuse the Torah. Less familiar but no less prevalent in rabbinic literature is a strikingly different take on this scene. In the...

  • Hillel’s voice is back, and she sounds great!

    By Rabbi Daniel Bouskila

    February 3, 2012 | 6:08 pm

    This week I write to you from Jerusalem, inspired by the headline story from this past Tuesday ‘s Ha’aretz. On the first morning of my trip, here is the headline I woke up to: “New Orthodox Rabbinical Group Puts Israeli Women at Its Head – Hopes to Counter Creeping Religious...

  • Discordant disappointment

    February 1, 2012 | 5:56 pm

    Parashat Beshallah is a symphony beautifully played, until the orchestra flubs the finale. It is a prima donna nailing the high note of the aria, just to blow out her voice three bars before the close.

    The parasha certainly starts with high grandeur and suspense. B’nai Yisrael...

  • Israel at the Academy Awards… again

    January 30, 2012 | 11:08 am

    Most 43-year-old film directors/screenwriters cannot say that half of the films they have made were nominated for Academy Awards. Joseph Cedar is an exception to that rule. The 43-year-old Cedar, born in the United States but raised in Israel, just secured his second Oscar nomination...

  • Silence of the dogs

    January 26, 2012 | 5:31 pm

    We read two puzzling statements as God prepares to exact the plagues in this week’s parasha. “And I will pass through Egypt ... and I will smite every first-born ... and I will exact judgments against all the gods of Egypt. I am God” (Exodus 12:12). Moreover, on that night,...

  • Just breathe

    By Rabbi Dan Moskovitz

    January 18, 2012 | 5:17 pm

    In this week’s Torah portion, we meet a frustrated and dejected Moses. God’s reluctant leader of the Jewish people cannot convince Pharaoh to free the Israelites from bondage, no matter how emphatically he proclaims, “Let my people go.” Pharaoh doesn’t budge; in fact,...

  • Déjà Vu, all over again

    January 11, 2012 | 6:55 pm

    It’s a new year and we are beginning a new book of the Torah — Exodus. Unfortunately, we are dealing with the same old problem. Anti-Semitism, the oldest hatred, rears its ugly head.

    Pharaoh, the Egyptian ruler, scapegoats the Jews and turns them into the enemy, a pattern that...

  • Unloading the emotional U-Haul

    By Rabbi Lisa Edwards

    January 4, 2012 | 1:02 pm

    A funeral director once said, “In all the funerals I’ve attended, I have yet to see a hearse with a U-Haul trailer attached.” But while it’s true that “you can’t take it with you,”meaning material possessions, I’m not so sure about emotional possessions. How many of...

  • Candle power

    By Rabbi Elazar Muskin

    December 21, 2011 | 11:33 am

    Anyone familiar with religious practices can testify to the fact that candles play a crucial role in normative observance for many religions. It is not surprising to find an identical phenomenon in Judaism, the mother of so many contemporary beliefs.

    In our practice, candles are...

  • Vayeshev Yaakov (Genesis 37:1-40:23)

    By Rabbi Anne Brener

    December 14, 2011 | 10:51 am

    I had a dream shortly after I arrived in Los Angeles in 1981 to study at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s (HUC-JIR) School of Jewish Communal Service.

    I revisit that dream frequently, discovering new meanings as my self-awareness evolves. In the dream, I stood...

  • The rebellious man of faith

    By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

    December 13, 2011 | 11:55 am

    The patriarch Jacob, my namesake (Jacob Shmuel) of whom we have read the past few weeks in the Bible, is the most maligned of all the patriarchs. He is the one whom non-Jews can do without. The Christians claim to have been grafted onto the seed of Abraham and the Muslims make equal...

  • Parashat Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43)

    December 7, 2011 | 12:11 pm

    Like a good movie, Israel evokes a variety of emotions within us. In fact, the poster for the 1994 Israel Film Festival (IFF) reads:

    “Passion, Triumph, Danger, Tragedy, Suspense, Miracles, Conflict, Ecstasy, Israel.”

    When I asked Meir Fenigstein, founder and director of the...

  • A collision of fate

    November 22, 2011 | 12:56 pm

    The years turn and turn, slowly at first, like the wheels of a train as they roll from the station. Bit by bit, momentum gathers. In the window, scenery starts to flicker and flit. We catch glimpses of a gray mountain capped with snow, a shanty red barn long abandoned. The train...

  • Attitude of gratitude

    November 16, 2011 | 1:55 pm

    I work as an on-call hospice chaplain, and I am often paged following the death of a patient. I was called recently to support a rather large group who had just witnessed the death of a woman in her 90s, whom I’ll call Bea.

    Bea had been not just a mother, a grandmother and a...

  • Parashat Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1-17:27)

    By Rabbi Laura Geller

    November 1, 2011 | 8:29 pm

    Last week’s Torah portion ends with a genealogy, a long list of names of who begot whom and how long they lived. It is one of many genealogies in the Torah. It used to be that when I encountered those lists, I tuned out; I found them boring. But then I read a book by Thomas Cahill...

  • Unique Capabilities: Parashat Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32)

    By Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater

    October 26, 2011 | 5:39 pm

    There are places in the Torah where many of us moderns have a hard time relating to our ancestors and the societies in which they lived. Oppression of women, slavery, animal sacrifice, a God that intervenes and directs our lives in a forceful and immediate way, to name a few. This...

  • Occupy Genesis

    By Rabbi Yonah Bookstein

    October 19, 2011 | 12:43 pm

    The story of creation begins again this week in synagogues around the world. The Jewish people make a global reset and roll back our Torah scrolls. Fresh and new, our world is set in motion with organic divine harmony, only to be disrupted by human folly. 

    This annual cosmic rewind...

  • Preserving our story

    By Rabbi Isaac Jeret

    October 11, 2011 | 6:43 pm

    Some months ago, I was asked by a group of Christian pastors to lead a series of study sessions on Jewish mysticism. We agreed to explore Isaac Luria’s late medieval kabbalistic model.

    For readers less familiar with the subject of kabbalah, all you need to know about Lurianic...

  • Ask forgiveness of yourself

    October 5, 2011 | 3:00 pm

    When a friend called with holiday wishes, I asked, “What happened for you this year?”

    “I no longer think I’m a bad person,” he replied.

    I know my friend to be kind, gentle and loving, but I could tell he was serious.

    “How wonderful,” I said, “a breakthrough.”...

  • From trouble child to favorite

    By Rabbi N. Daniel Korobkin

    September 27, 2011 | 5:59 pm

    What would it take for you to disown your child? I know that for most everyone this is a hypothetical question, but please indulge me: What dastardly behavior would your son or daughter have to stoop to in order for you to “sit shiva”? A generation or two ago, when a child...

  • Apples and honey

    September 21, 2011 | 11:11 am

    One of the most meaningful customs at each Rosh Hashanah meal is the dipping of apples into honey. By doing so we make a sweet fruit, the apple, taste even sweeter.

    Obviously this symbolizes our yearnings for a very sweet year for us, our loved ones and, indeed, for everyone.


  • True blessings

    By Rav Yosef Kanefsky

    September 13, 2011 | 7:23 pm

    “In these tough economic times ...”

    These words have become ubiquitous — sometimes spoken by a public servant advocating a consumer-relief measure, other

    times by an advertiser announcing a price reduction. We are, indeed, in tough economic times, and our lives and the lives...

  • Ultimate fighting strategies

    September 7, 2011 | 11:45 am

    This week’s Torah portion seems to begin and end with “politically incorrect” recommendations for war, death and destruction. Starting with, “When you will go out to war” (Deuteronomy 21:10), the portion ends with, “You shall wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the...

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