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Tag: Torah Portion

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  • Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Kedoshim with Rabbi Rick Jacobs

    By Shmuel Rosner

    April 19, 2013 | 9:36 am

    This is the first in a series of weekly videos in which we will discuss the weekly Torah portion (Parashat Hashavua) with leading Rabbis of different denominations.

    Our first guest is Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the congregational arm of...

  • Healing the broken – Parashat Tazria-Metzora (Leviticus 12:1-15:33)

    By Rabbi Laura Geller

    April 10, 2013 | 1:57 pm

    Most people try really hard to avoid having their bar or bat mitzvah on the Shabbat when we read Tazria-Metzora. I know this not only because I am a rabbi, but because this was my bat mitzvah portion. 

    Tazria is about purity and impurity, including the impurity that comes with...

  • Willing to sacrifice

    By Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

    March 21, 2013 | 4:49 am

    The mind of the midrashist drifts effortlessly over the face of the Tanakh as verses from the Torah conjure up similar verses and phrases from other sacred books. Thus, our parasha’s descriptions of the thanksgiving offerings and the free-will offerings call to mind a phrase found...

  • A divine call to action

    By Rabbi Elazar Muskin

    March 14, 2013 | 4:39 am

    Once, on a mission to Israel, we needed a minyan for a prayer service during the airplane flight. We were a total of six men in our group, so we began to scan the plane for the remaining four for the requisite 10 men.

    As I went up and down the aisles, one fellow turned to me and...

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  • Building Our Mishkan

    By Rabbi Yonah Bookstein

    March 7, 2013 | 4:14 am

    The ancient sages teach us that the Torah is exceedingly careful with language. No phrase is superfluous. Each word or letter is part of the intricate unfolding mysteries concentrated in the Torah.

    In Parshat Terumah, a few chapters ago, we read about the entire construction of...

  • God’s road rage

    February 27, 2013 | 1:54 pm

    What’s up with God? 

    One minute God’s up on Mount Sinai giving us laws and teachings to transform our people and the world, and the next, the Holy One is contemplating — no, planning, actually — to destroy the whole Israelite people and begin again with Moses as the progenitor...

  • Wearing your true self

    February 20, 2013 | 3:09 pm

    “Do not judge by the flask, but rather by what it contains” (Pirkei Avot 4:20).

    We are taught from a young age not to “judge a book by its cover” and we raise our children to look deeper than just at the clothes someone is wearing. Yet in this week’s portion we find a good deal...

  • Sharing the Infinite - Parashat Terumi (Exodus 25:1-27:19)

    February 13, 2013 | 7:40 am

    You shall make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).

    Is it possible for God to dwell among us? King Solomon had his doubts. He wondered aloud at the inauguration of the Temple, “Will God really dwell on earth? Even the heavens … cannot contain You, how...

  • On equal footing

    February 6, 2013 | 11:09 am

    I watched President Barack Obama’s second inauguration from the hospital room of my 92-year-old friend Harriet. She was having an EKG during it, even though we all agreed the numbers would not provide an accurate assessment of her condition — her medical condition, that is. 

    “You...

  • Power of ten

    By Rabbi Daniel Bouskila

    January 30, 2013 | 3:55 pm

    Sometime during the 13th century, in a private study in Barcelona, an anonymous author sat and composed “Sefer HaChinuch” (“The Book of Education”). This systematic study of the Torah’s 613 commandments was beautifully written as a gift from a father to his son. In his...

  • Opportunity of a setback

    By Rabbi Dov Fischer

    January 16, 2013 | 1:49 pm

    This week’s parasha is one of the most central to the Jewish narrative. We read of the final plagues, the storm brought by God’s mighty hand and outstretched arm gathering on the border of Egypt, the Divine command to prepare for the Exodus by baking the matzot and eating the...

  • Are you awake?

    January 9, 2013 | 11:47 am

    There is an old midrash to explain how Moshe discovered his Jewish identity and woke up to his calling as a teacher and prophet. Yocheved, Moshe’s mother, used to sing him lullabies and feed him familiar foods. As she weaned him and led him into the embrace of his surrogate family,...

  • What is in a Name?

    January 2, 2013 | 12:28 pm

    This week we begin a new book of Torah — Shemot in Hebrew and Exodus in English. While the word “exodus” means “going out,” the word “shemot” means “names.” So, it should not be surprising that we are sent through a maze of names and journeys in this week’s parasha.

    The portion...

  • Women praying to be heard at the Western Wall

    By Rabbi Laura Geller

    December 19, 2012 | 10:23 am

    We approached the entrance to the Kotel Plaza a little before 7 a.m. on Rosh Hodesh Tevet. In my bag was my tallit, the beautiful purple-and-blue one that was hand woven as a gift from the students and faculty at USC more than 20 years ago, when I completed my time there as the...

  • Power of words

    By Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater

    December 5, 2012 | 3:53 pm

    In our age of Facebook and Twitter, we know all too well how fast words can spread. When I was a kid, we played the game telephone, passing a word or phrase around the circle by whispering it into each other’s ear, knowing that by the time it went all the way around, it would...

  • Never alone

    By Rabbi Dov Fischer

    November 20, 2012 | 9:46 am

    In this week’s parasha, Yaakov flees for his life, departing from Beersheva back to Charan — back to the beginning. How optimistic it had been when Avraham came to Israel two generations earlier, abandoning Charan presumably forever (Genesis 11:32-12:6). Avraham “went, took and...

  • Voting with your feet

    By Rabbi Dan Moskovitz

    October 24, 2012 | 1:46 pm

    The existential philosopher Soren Kierkegaard famously observed, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Often the same is true of Torah. Sometimes in order to understand what is happening now, you have to know what has happened before.

    In this...

  • Heroes in waiting

    October 17, 2012 | 4:15 pm

    The best parts of the Noah story are not found in the Torah verses, but in the stories we weave between them. Classical midrashim and the movie “Evan Almighty” help us answer such questions as: How did all those animals get along on the ark, and who cleaned up after them? How did...

  • Balance between

    October 10, 2012 | 4:41 pm

    Readers long have been challenged by the blatant contradictions between the first two chapters of Genesis. In chapter 1, the creation of animals precedes people; in chapter 2, the order is reversed. In chapter 1, a single, androgynous Adam came into being; in chapter 2, Adam and...

  • Let Heaven and Earth Hear

    September 27, 2012 | 10:14 am

    If each spoken word is a droplet of water, then each voice that utters is a wind that brings forth rain.

    Though, the wind has no shape. Though, water comes in all shapes and sizes. Though, no mortal power can divine the weather even a few days hence, words turn patterns as surely...

  • Passing the torch

    September 19, 2012 | 2:50 pm

    “Moses summoned Joshua and said to him before the eyes of all Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous…’ ” Deuteronomy 31:7.

    Aware that he is about to die, Moses appoints Joshua as his successor in front of all the people. In a few short verses, he leads us on a journey through a...

  • Here on Earth

    By Rabbi Yonah Bookstein

    September 12, 2012 | 11:40 am

    “The Torah that I am prescribing to you today is not too mysterious or remote from you. It is not in heaven ... it is something that is very close to you” (Deuteronomy 30:11-13).

    A great illustration of this passage is contained in the Yiddish story by I.L. Peretz titled “If Not...

  • First Fruits

    September 5, 2012 | 12:35 pm

    Earlier today I bit into a crisp, bright green plum. The plum, a new variety at my local farmers’ market, showed up for the first time this week. It is hard to believe

    that after months of stone fruit wonders, there are still different varieties appearing. In the simple act of...

  • Conditionally unconditional

    August 29, 2012 | 5:06 pm

    Dear Mom: It’s been a long time coming, but I owe you an apology. There have been simply too many jokes at your expense, like the time you told your friends I was such a devoted son that I spend $150 on you every week — talking to my therapist. Or, when you and Dad proudly...

  • “Ayeka? Where are You?” -  A D’var Torah for Parashat Shoftim

    By Rabbi John Rosove

    August 24, 2012 | 7:33 am

    This story is told by Howard Schwartz who based it on the tale by Zevulon Qort from Ben Zion Asherov of Afghanistan (I have edited his original telling):

    “There was once a Jew who went out into the world to fulfill the Biblical commandment – Tzedek tzedek tirdof [Deut. 26:20]...

  • Pagan inspiration

    August 15, 2012 | 1:31 pm

    “Beware of being lured into their ways ... Do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did those nations worship their gods? I too will follow the same practices!’” (Deuteronomy 12:30).

    I am struck by this verse from our parasha, because I have benefited greatly from other...

  • Circumcise your hearts

    By Rabbi Dan Moskovitz

    August 8, 2012 | 11:59 am

    Consider the artichoke for a moment. It is an odd but instructive vegetable. An artichoke is prickly and surrounded by an armor of leaves protecting the soft center, the heart of the food. Boiling or steaming it loosens the protective leaves, permitting you to pick them off one by...

  • Moving toward possibility

    By Rabbi Lisa Edwards

    August 1, 2012 | 12:03 pm

    Moses is 120 years old when, in this week’s Torah portion, Va’etchanan, he recalls his recent request of God: “I pleaded with the Eternal at that time, saying, ‘O Eternal God, You who let your servant see the first works of Your greatness and Your mighty hand, You whose...

  • Lessons from a prophet on Tisha b’Av

    By Rabbi Elazar Muskin

    July 25, 2012 | 2:28 pm

    A man visiting from Manhattan introduced himself after finishing a Shabbat afternoon class in Jewish ethics and told me the following story: In the early years of Lincoln Square Synagogue, when Rabbi Shlomo Riskin was the rabbi, he always wanted a certain leading member to serve as...

  • Ritual of Return

    By Rabbi Anne Brener

    July 18, 2012 | 3:43 pm

    This double parasha brings us to the end of the book of Bemidbar. The Israelites stand at the edge of the Promised Land, following Moses’ last military campaign. Before the people can leave the wilderness, the soldiers must go through rituals of purification. They must stay “outside...

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