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Tag: Torah Portion

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  • Torah portion: Reframing the Brit Shalom

    By Rabbi Anne Brener

    1 day ago

    How can I write a d’var Torah when I can’t stop crying? The horrific news from the Middle East — our boys, their boys, the steady progress of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — I can’t bear to put on paper what is in my heart, as I emerge from texts on Parshat Pinchas extolling...

  • Torah portion: Time flies

    By Rabbi Lisa Edwards

    2 weeks ago

    I attended a memorial for a beloved colleague recently, and his widow remembered how at funerals he would invite people not to look at the birth and death dates on memorial plaques and grave markers, but to focus on the dash between the dates — that’s the part that matters. 

    This...

  • Torah Portion: Living with clergy killers

    By Rabbi Dov Fischer

    3 weeks ago

    Korach is a fascinating Torah portion because, as happens so often when the Torah narrates real-life events, the characters ring incredibly true. We all know superficially good people who have so much going for them, yet who propel themselves down a horrific course of...

  • Baseless discontent

    June 4, 2014 | 10:17 am

    I like to have a derash in my pocket with an addiction/recovery theme when I visit Jewish inmates in the county jail, and I’ve got to tell you, Beha’alotecha is the perfect one to do this. 

    Found in the book of Numbers, this parasha features a memorable scene in which the...

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  • A mathematician’s dream blessing

    May 28, 2014 | 11:07 am

    Two, 4, 6, 8 … What comes next? Once you recognize this as a sequence of even numbers, counted by twos, then you know that the numbers 10 and 12 come next.

    Two, 3, 5, 7, 11 … What comes next? This sequence of prime numbers (numbers divisible only by themselves and 1) continues...

  • Who counts?

    By Rabbi Laura Geller

    May 21, 2014 | 10:43 am

    For the past five weeks, the entire Jewish community has been counting … counting the days between Passover and Shavuot, the anniversary of the day we received Torah. This linking of Passover and receiving Torah reminds us that our exodus from Egypt wasn’t only about our own...

  • Strength in unity

    By Rabbi Daniel Bouskila

    May 14, 2014 | 10:09 am

    Toward the end of his life, Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel, Israel’s first Sephardic chief rabbi, composed his last will and testament to the Jewish people. In what is now considered a classic spiritual document and taught in schools throughout Israel, the theme of Rabbi Uziel’s...

  • While the world was burning

    By Rabbi Anne Brener

    May 7, 2014 | 10:40 am

    Do you remember Roy Lichtenstein’s Pop Art portrait of an anguished woman, her hand over her face, tears falling from her eyes and a speech balloon above her head saying, “I can’t believe it. I forgot to have children!” The implication was that this woman was so busy ticking off...

  • Counting Omer, Counting Reasons

    By Rav Yosef Kanefsky

    April 30, 2014 | 10:16 am

    Today, May 2, is the 17th day of the Omer. Following the practice set forth in this week’s parasha, we have been counting the day of the Omer since the second day of Passover, and will continue to do so until we reach the 49th day of the Omer, when we will celebrate the festival of...

  • Not everyone, not yet

    By Rabbi Lisa Edwards

    April 23, 2014 | 10:41 am

    "Times have certainly changed,” someone said to me the other day. “We have a new generation of children growing up just with marriage — not gay marriage and straight marriage, but ‘just marriage.’ ”

    Nice pun, I thought, “just marriage.” The oft-quoted Torah verse, “justice,...

  • Torah portion: Purity for every person

    April 9, 2014 | 12:49 pm

    For several weeks, we’ve plodded through unsettling descriptions of genital discharges, fungi-infested homes, postpartum impurity, skin discolorations, corpse contaminations and all manner of priestly diagnoses and prognoses. These sections of Leviticus are as foreign to modern...

  • Healing bodies and souls: Parashat Metzora (Leviticus 14:1-15:33)

    By Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater

    April 2, 2014 | 1:57 pm

    On the margins is where some of the most profound holy acts are performed. Standing with those who are in the shadows, on the margins of society, those who have been abandoned, those in our communities who frighten us, who push us to see our own vulnerability, human beings we...

  • Torah portion: He is pure, she is pure

    March 26, 2014 | 10:41 am

    Many people think the description in this week’s parasha, Tazria, of how the High Priest should treat lepers — by evicting them from the camp of Israel with a ritual, and accepting them back with another once they’ve healed — is so archaic as to make studying it absurd. The ancient...

  • Torah portion: Becoming a distinguished people

    March 19, 2014 | 2:08 pm

    “You shall be holy, for I am holy”

    — Leviticus 11:45

    I always find that Parashat Shemini inspires young people to ask questions. “Why did Aaron’s sons have to die?” “Why can’t I have a drink and get a little tipsy if it will help me enjoy services more?” And, of course, the...

  • Our beastly selves: Parashat Vayikra

    March 5, 2014 | 11:05 am

    What is a dedicated vegetarian, who is also a believing, contemporary Jew, to make of the book of Leviticus, specifically this week’s Torah portion, Vayikra? From the very beginning of the portion, we are confronted with animal sacrifice, with grisly descriptions of blood and torn...

  • Torah portion: Bridging Judaism’s generation gap

    By Rabbi Daniel Bouskila

    February 26, 2014 | 2:43 pm

    How do we preserve tradition while simultaneously introducing new ideas? Can worldviews from the past coexist with those of the new generation? From Shabbat tables and Passover seders to public forums and debates, we find an ever-widening generation gap in the Jewish world on...

  • Torah portion: On heroes and procrastinators

    February 20, 2014 | 2:47 pm

    We have devoted the past few weeks to reading God’s instructions to the nation of Israel for building the Mishkan (Tabernacle), the portable Holy Temple that will travel through the Sinai Desert with the Israelits and follow them into the Promised Land for centuries to come. By...

  • The covenant of the calf: Parashat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35)

    February 12, 2014 | 5:01 pm

    If the word of God, engraved in stone, can crumble as easily as bread; if God’s voice, chiseled in rock, can shatter like a pitched dinner plate; if the children of Israel can cast off their heavenly covenant with a casualness not unlike the unclasping of an earring or a necklace;...

  • Standing naked: Parashat Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10)

    February 5, 2014 | 11:54 am

    You step out of the shower, towel off and stand before the mirror. It’s just you and your reflection … the naked truth. Your eye appraises without mercy. Under the bright lights, no imperfection can be concealed; no blemish disguised. Or …

    It’s the morning after. Lights once...

  • Parashat Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19)

    By Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater

    January 31, 2014 | 12:01 pm

    A few weeks ago, I spent four beautiful days on a meditation retreat with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS) at the American Jewish University’s Brandeis-Bardin Campus. Spending time in silence, mindful yoga, walking and eating, as well as deep Torah learning with leading...

  • Divine partnership: Parashat Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16)

    January 3, 2014 | 2:27 pm

    “Come to Pharaoh … that you may know I am HaShem” (Exodus 10:1-10:2). 

    The story in this week’s portion is as recognizable as any in the entire Torah. Discussed at the Passover seder, it begins with Moses and the eighth plague of locusts, continues through the plague of darkness...

  • Becoming a parent: Parashat Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17)

    November 26, 2013 | 4:07 pm

    Joseph, the once-favored child of Jacob, rises up from slave and prisoner to become Pharaoh’s right hand. He assumes responsibility for a far-reaching 14-year business plan to ensure that after seven years of plenty, Egypt would be prepared to endure the seven years of famine. Once...

  • Blind Spot: Parashat Vayeshev (Genesis 37:1-40:23)

    November 20, 2013 | 4:16 pm

    “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts; the entire earth is filled with his glory” (Isaiah 6:30). 

    If Isaiah is correct, with every step we take, with every breath we draw, we cannot help but encounter God’s glory. And yet who among us is constantly aware of this fact, this daily...

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

    November 14, 2013 | 5:44 pm

    What do you do when your back is to the wall? When tensions are so high, annihilation seems imminent?

    Jacob has an answer that touches my soul. He doesn’t fight, run or resist. Instead, he surrenders completely, and that which he feared washes over him like a wave. 

    Twenty...

  • Shabbat Shalom to the Angels Among Us

    Rabbi Elaine Rose Glickman

    November 8, 2013 | 8:27 am

    This Shabbat, Jews all over the world will read the Torah portion Vayetze. It's a great portion - they all are, of course, but this one really is especially rich. We meet Leah and Rachel, and watch as their father's trickery ensures Jacob will marry both. We celebrate the births of...

  • No victory over the vulnerable: Parashat Vayetze (Genesis 28:10-32:3)

    November 6, 2013 | 3:04 pm

    “And Leah’s eyes were tender, but Rachel was fair in form and fair to look at, and Jacob loved Rachel” (Genesis 29:17).

    There was something about Leah’s eyes. Some commentators thought them possessed of an elegant beauty, others a misty attractiveness, or most peculiarly, that...

  • Kindness connection: Parashat Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18)

    By Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

    October 23, 2013 | 4:54 pm

    Did Avraham attend Yitzchak’s wedding? Well, in the closest thing we have to a wedding description — right at the end of this parasha — Avraham is nowhere to be found. The servant who made the match is there, and the spirit of Sarah is there as she looms large in her son’s memory,...

  • The long and winding road: Parashat Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1–17:27)

    By Rabbi Daniel Bouskila

    October 9, 2013 | 3:24 pm

    The day God pronounced two simple words — lech lecha — Abraham and Sarah’s lives changed forever. God instructs Abraham to leave his homeland, his birthplace and his father’s home, “to the land that I will show you, and there I will make of you a great nation” (Genesis 12:1-2)....

  • In the family way: Parashat Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32)

    By Rabbi Lisa Edwards

    October 3, 2013 | 4:59 pm

    Word went out from the congregation that a longtime member was nearing the end of her life. She has no partner and no children, but, on the day after Yom Kippur, 17 friends from the congregation came to visit her, including current and former clergy, and grown children she used to...

  • Feast or Famine: Sukkot

    September 18, 2013 | 12:30 pm

    According to the rabbis, the holiday of Sukkot commemorates the 40 years of wandering in the Sinai Desert, and we eat and sleep in a sukkah — that temporary structure made with a roof of dried vegetation, such as palm fronds — because the Israelites slept in sukkot (the plural of...

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