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Jewish Journal

Tag: Weekly Torah Portion

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  • 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: Blessings in disguise

    By Rabbi Lisa Edwards

    February 25, 2015 | 10:05 am

    My mother, z”l, measured her great success in the women’s clothing business by the number of women who liked the clothes she chose for them. When I was young, my mother shared with me her “secret of success”: People have to feel comfortable in their clothes; they have to feel like...

  • 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...

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  • 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: Balancing our priestly lives

    By Rabbi Anne Brener

    February 4, 2015 | 11:00 am

    I have particular fondness for Parshat Yitro. While it contains some of the defining moments of Israelite religion — the revelation at Sinai, the giving of the Decalogue and the injunction that we should become “a kingdom of priests” — my delight is in the tale that precedes these...

  • 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: A good death

    By Rabbi Laura Geller

    December 30, 2014 | 9:43 am

    It was a good death. 
     
    Jacob had finished all that was left to do. He gave his son Joseph explicit instructions about what he wanted when he died: “When I lie down with my ancestors, have me taken out of Egypt and be buried in their burial place.”
     
    He had the chance to...
  • Vayishlach: You name it

    December 5, 2014 | 10:17 am

    Something very strange happens at the juncture of last week’s parsha (Vayetze) and this week’s (Vayishlach). In the last verse of Veyetze (Genesis 32:3), Jacob saw angels and said, “This is the camp of God” – and he named the place Machanayim, which means “two camps.”

    Five verses...

  • 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...

  • Torah portion: Living with pardon

    November 5, 2014 | 11:38 am

    A genocide here, a massacre there. Somewhere a theocrat falls, elsewhere a despot rises. Tent cities spring up like grass. Shantytowns and refugee camps sprout forth like fields of wheat.  

    Who by poison gas, who by machete, who by bullets and who by bombs? Who shall expire...

  • 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: 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: Law and order Jewish style

    By Rabbi Dov Fischer

    August 27, 2014 | 10:13 am

    The first sentence of this week’s Torah portion says it all: “Judges and [law-enforcement] officers shall you establish for [yourselves] within all your borders.” Judges to interpret and oversee righteous application of the law. Law-enforcement officers — cops — to keep the peace...

  • 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: 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...

  • The big choice

    June 11, 2014 | 9:16 am

    I’ve always held the belief that if three or more diverse cultures have the same teaching, that teaching may be worthwhile and worth exploring. Nearly every tradition in the world teaches that all personal choices are, at their deepest level, based on choosing between faith and...

  • 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...

  • Lies, lies, lies

    June 6, 2013 | 5:47 pm

    My daughter, a soon-to-graduate high school senior, was chosen by a teacher to participate in an event to teach the school a lesson about drunk driving. Before school one day, organizers would set up a scene with a crashed car and police tape. My daughter and the other chosen...

  • 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...

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