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Jewish Journal

Tag: Torah Portion

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  • Passover: A lesson in political science

    By Rabbi Daniel Bouskila

    2 days ago

    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

    1 week ago

    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

    2 weeks ago

    “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

    3 weeks ago

    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...

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  • 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...

  • Torah portion: Economic, moral and ritual choices

    December 17, 2014 | 1:23 pm

    At the beginning of Parashat Miketz, Pharaoh dreams of cows and grain; the healthy, sturdy specimens are consumed by the thin and gaunt. Joseph is remembered as a dream-interpreter and released from prison in order to serve Pharaoh. 

    Joseph explains that seven years of abundant...

  • Torah portion: Father and son

    By Rabbi Daniel Bouskila

    December 10, 2014 | 1:56 pm

    Communication between Jacob and Joseph was sparse, and the dynamic between them was less than exemplary. The first time we hear Joseph speaking to his father, he is gossiping about his brothers. Jacob does not respond. Instead we are told, “He loved Joseph more than all his...

  • Torah portion: As long as you’re trying, you’ve won

    December 3, 2014 | 10:50 am

    “Newsies” is coming to the Pantages Theatre in the spring. Parashat Vayishlach is coming to a shul near you this week. What’s one got to do with the other?

    There is a pivotal moment during “Newsies” that captures something I’ve felt in our parasha. The Newsies are scared. They...

  • Torah portion: Israel’s story

    December 3, 2014 | 10:35 am

    Our Torah portion tells the story of Jacob’s return to the land of Israel. In harmony with the rabbinic dictum of “ma’ase’e Avoth siman lebanim” (the chronicles of the patriarchs reflect the fate and destiny of future generations), our parasha also reflects our own path from exile,...

  • Torah portion: Dream a little dream

    November 25, 2014 | 9:21 am

    “Although I have hidden my face from Israel, I will communicate with him through dreams” (Bavli, Chagigah 5b).

    This week’s portion begins with Jacob’s famous dream: “He dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven, and behold the angels of...

  • Torah portion: Seeing the forest for the trees

    November 19, 2014 | 11:49 am

    Sequoia trees are some of the largest and oldest trees in the world. Whenever I visit Sequoia National Park, I am awestruck that the trees under which I stand were seedlings when the Temple still stood in Jerusalem. I marvel at what it must take for something to live that long. 

    ...
  • Torah portion: Lingering hopes

    By Rabbi Lisa Edwards

    November 12, 2014 | 10:27 am

    Parashat Chayei Sarah comes to us again this year in a time of wistfulness and worry, arriving as hostilities in Jerusalem and Hebron heat up. One would be hard-pressed to guess from the gentle stories told in Chayei Sarah of the deaths and burials of Sarah, Abraham and Ishmael...

  • Kavod and the importance of feeling important

    By Rav Yosef Kanefsky

    October 29, 2014 | 10:18 am

    Much has been said and written about Abraham’s 10 trials, which began with God asking him to leave his homeland and culminating with God asking him to place Isaac upon an altar on Mount Moriah. Much less discussed are Sarah’s trials — trials that, I’d argue, are even deeper and...

  • The problem of evil and us

    October 23, 2014 | 10:24 am

    So Noah heard God’s warning that the floodwaters were coming, understood that God would “take care” of the evil within his generation, and without second thought, began building the ark. He collected his family and the animals, endured 40 days of flooding and ensured the...

  • Torah portion: Bridging the space between us

    October 14, 2014 | 10:24 am

    When “The Passion of the Christ” came out 10 years ago, Mel Gibson took heat for pitching the movie as though it were faithful to the original story. Although the characters spoke Aramaic to imply historical accuracy, Gibson took significant liberties with the Gospels, slathering...

  • Torah portion: Embracing impermanence during Sukkot

    By Rabbi Anne Brener

    October 7, 2014 | 11:08 am

    When I was visiting Albuquerque, N.M., a number of years ago, a friend brought me to visit the nearby Native American community to observe the annual corn dance. As we entered the space where this harvest ritual would be performed, I noticed that all of the participants began by...

  • Torah portion: Beauty and love

    September 23, 2014 | 9:58 am

    Over and above the din of desires there is a calling, a demanding, a waiting, an expectation. There is a question that follows me wherever I turn. What is expected of me? What is demanded of me?

    — Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

    Our penultimate Torah portion is … a poem. Even...

  • Torah portion: Lean in

    By Rabbi Lisa Edwards

    September 17, 2014 | 11:16 am

    It’s been a rough few months worldwide. In addition to the violence and the threats, the tenuous cease-fires and seemingly insolvable problems, many people also find all this difficult to talk about. 

    I’m hearing from colleagues and congregants, friends and family — sad and...

  • Torah portion: Challenging God

    By Rabbi Daniel Bouskila

    September 10, 2014 | 11:34 am

    Does the classic Jewish tradition allow room for challenging God? Our prayers constantly praise and bless God, but are there any sections of our liturgy that formally level an open challenge to God? 

    In one of Judaism’s earliest prayers — the “tithe declaration” — we find an...

  • Torah portion: Do not look away

    September 3, 2014 | 10:24 am

    On Aug. 24, one of Hollywood’s most visible young entertainers loaned her spotlight to someone we don’t usually see onstage: a homeless man.

    When Miley Cyrus introduced the world to Jesse Helt, it was so he could accept her MTV Video Music Award on behalf of homeless teenagers....

  • Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Re’eh with Rabbi Efrem Goldberg

    By Shmuel Rosner

    August 22, 2014 | 3:18 am

    Our guest this week is Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, the senior rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue in Florida. Rabbi Goldberg serves as Co-Chair of the Orthodox Rabbinical Board's Va'ad Ha'Kashrus, as Director of the Rabbinical Council of America's South Florida Regional Beis Din for...

  • Torah portion: Wake up!

    August 20, 2014 | 10:17 am

    Guard and listen to all these words that I command you, in order that it be well with you and your children after you forever (Deuteronomy 12:28).

    This week’s portion, Re’eh, contains a break in Moses’ speeches about Jewish history and destiny. Here he reminds our people of the...

  • Torah portion: Remembering the journey

    By Rabbi Laura Geller

    August 13, 2014 | 10:47 am

    Many in the latest generation of women rabbis don’t think of themselves as feminists. For them, being a rabbi is a birthright; they grew up with women rabbis. They have little sense of what it took to get to this point. For those of us in the first generation, that is a bit...

  • Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Va’etchanan with Rabbi Terry Bookman

    By Shmuel Rosner

    August 8, 2014 | 9:02 am

    Our guest this week is Rabbi Terry Bookman of the Temple Beth Am congregation in Pincrest, FL. Rabbi Bookman was ordained rabbi by the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 1984. He holds a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters (H.U.C.), a Master of Arts in...

  • Torah portion: Even Nixon

    By Rabbi Dov Fischer

    August 6, 2014 | 10:50 am

    This week’s Torah portion, Va’etchanan, is remarkable for so many reasons. It includes within its four chapters the first paragraph of the Shema (“Hear O Israel”) and the Ten Pronouncements (often mistranslated as the Ten Commandments). It includes one of the Four Questions asked...

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