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Jewish Journal

Tag: Torah Portion

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  • Torah portion: The secret to happiness

    3 days ago

    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’

    1 week ago

    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

    2 weeks ago

    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

    3 weeks ago

    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...

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  • 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...

  • Rabbi Edward Feinstein on Parashat Shemini (Leviticus 9:1 11:47)

    April 17, 2015 | 1:16 pm

    Americans have an infatuation with leaders. The English philosopher Thomas Carlyle believed that history is propelled by “the great man” (Carlyle’s phrase), whose values and energy animate our institutions. For Americans, “leadership” is a sacred word. 

    The success or failure of...

  • Relationship status: It’s complicated

    April 8, 2015 | 11:44 am

    One of the more mysterious Passover traditions is the public reading of Shir HaShirim — The Song of Songs. Shir HaShirim is a magnificent expression of affection between lovers. Allegorically, the song is interpreted as a love song between God and the Jewish people. Indeed, it is a...

  • Passover: A lesson in political science

    By Rabbi Daniel Bouskila

    March 25, 2015 | 11:00 am

    Decades ago, before the creation of the State of Israel, David Ben-Gurion gave a brief lesson in Jewish history: 

    “Three hundred years, ago a ship called the Mayflower set sail to the New World. This was a great event in the history of England. Yet I wonder if there is one...

  • Torah portion: The meaning of life

    March 18, 2015 | 11:56 am

    Great thinkers have important things to say about the meaning of life. For the Greek philosopher Aristotle, it was that “man is a political animal.” Aristotle basically points out that we are social beings and that we tend to congregate in groups, such as families, villages and...

  • Torah portion: Building a community on individual effort

    March 11, 2015 | 11:11 am

    “Do not regard anyone with contempt, and do not reject anything, for there is no man who does not have his hour and nothing which does not have its place.”

    — Ben Azzai, Pirkei Avot 4:3

    The two Torah portions of Vayakhel and Pekudei comprise the closing chapters of the book of...

  • Torah Portion: Hiding our faces

    March 4, 2015 | 10:51 am

    On Mount Sinai, Moses begs God, “Oh, let me behold Your Presence” (Exodus 33:18), and God agrees to allow God’s goodness to pass before Moses. God instructs Moses, “Station yourself on the rock and as My Presence passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and shield you with...

  • Torah portion: Fair and square

    February 18, 2015 | 10:48 am

    A cube is a geometric shape composed of six identical squares. If the cube is hollow, these squares create an inner space, identical in length, width and height, equal in every dimension. 

    Too often, we think of architecture in pure utilitarian terms. What is this structure’s...

  • Torah portion: Learning Torah through the kid with special needs

    February 11, 2015 | 11:26 am

    The chiddush, that elusive new piece of wisdom that brings insight to my week, often comes from my students. With fresh eyes and hearts open to the inspiration that life has hidden away for us, they never fail to amaze me with their chochma (wisdom). This week, three people — our...

  • Torah portion: Preserve freedom by remembering slavery

    January 28, 2015 | 11:09 am

    Finally, after two consecutive weeks of cliffhangers, B’shalach, the heart of the Exodus tale, tantalizes us with what appears to be a complete story. It recounts an entire drama that builds tension and unfolds in a cinematic climax with the Israelites escaping Pharaoh and crossing...

  • Torah portion: The light of truth

    January 21, 2015 | 11:11 am

    I received an email from a website called Growing Bolder (growingbolder.com) consisting of images of people who have continued to attain wonderful achievements into their later years. These are people in their 80s, 90s and even 100s who are triathletes, surfers, artists, rodeo...

  • Torah portion: Does Elijah really visit your seder table to sip wine?

    January 14, 2015 | 11:26 am

    We all know the imagery at the seder: It is late in the evening. Everyone has eaten lotsa matzah. We have drunk several cups of wine, talked about freedom from bondage and extrapolated the discussion to apply to subsequent historical moments. 

    The children have sung Mah Nishtanah...

  • Torah portion: Naming names

    January 7, 2015 | 10:10 am

    We begin the story of the Exodus of the Jewish people from slavery to freedom not with a tale of heroism and miracles, but with a list of names.

    V’eleh shemot b’nai Yisrael. These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob …” (Exodus 1:1)

    After Jacob...

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