Category Archives: Rabbinical School Divrei Torah

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“You may not turn your back and say amen”

Note: This message was originally distributed on March. 8th, 2017 to the Hebrew College  community, alumni and friends. Dear friends, One of my favorite practices on Purim is the mitzvah of mishloach manot — delivering gifts of food to friends and neighbors. Rabbi David Hartman relates this mitzvah to the fact that the Book of Esther, which we read on Purim, does not mention the name of God. Purim speaks to all… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Josh-Weisman-

Celebrating Women’s Mark on the Textual Tradition from Esther to Today’s Teachers of Jewish Text

The holiday of Purim, whose observance centers around the public chanting of the Book of Esther, is a yearly opportunity to reflect on women in the Jewish textual tradition, and women’s relationship to it. A woman, after all, has top billing as one of two heroes of the story, a true rarity within the Bible. With courage and humility, Esther skillfully maneuvers of the nuances of her socio-political context to… Read Article →

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“And these are the laws.”

Note: This message was originally distributed on Feb. 22, 2017 to the Hebrew College community, alumni and friends. Last week’s Torah reading, Parashat Yitro, brought us back to the mysterious encounter at Sinai, where we stood — a trembling people before a trembling mountain — and listened for the commanding voice of the God who brought us out of Egypt. Parashat Mishpatim offers a striking contrast to the grandeur of… Read Article →

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“God Has Placed in My Mouth A New Song”

Note: This message was originally distributed on Feb. 10, 2017 to the Hebrew College community, alumni and friends. This coming Shabbat, two moments converge on our sacred calendar – the holiday of Tu b’Shvat, on which we celebrate the new year for trees, and Shabbat Shirah, on which we chant the Song of the Sea. These two moments call out to us with a deep and important reminder: the possibility of… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Ma'ayan Sands

Moses, Exodus and Being a Messenger of God

Dvar Torah for Congregation Mishkan Tefillah, Parashat Bo, February 3, 2017* The Biblical teaching that we are created “b’tzelem Elohim”, in the image of God, is a cornerstone of Judaism. Often, we understand it to be a mandate of how we should act toward and treat each other. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik has another idea. He says is that each one of us is a messenger, created B’tzelem Elohim, in the… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Nehemia Polen

Tu Bi-Shvat: Nurturing the Tree of Life

To judge by our classical sources, Tu bi-Shvat barely counts as even a minor holiday. The Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 2a and 14a) mentions the fifteenth day of the month of Shvat as the day which initiates a new agricultural year with respect to the tithing of fruit trees, but specifies no liturgy, ritual, or celebration. There is little reference to Tu bi-Shvat in the early medieval authorities, and even Rabbi… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Nehemia Polen

Chanukah Means Accepting All that is Offered

“I dwell in possibility,” Emily Dickinson once wrote. On Chanukah, the festival of dedication, we take the possibilities of life and invest ourselves within them, making them our own. On Rosh Hashanah, we are told, our decree for the year is signed. On Yom Kippur it is sealed. On Hoashanah Rabbah, it is handed over for delivery. But only on Chanukah is the crucial last step taken: on Chanukah we… Read Article →

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Dvar Tefillah—The Rabbinical School of Hebrew College

13 Cheshvan 5777 / 14 November 2016 Holy Blessed One, today I don’t have the words. I sent down my bucket into the well of language and brought it up empty. Holy Blessed One, I am reeling. From the election. From this post-election week. From the long-standing rifts in this country now being starkly revealed. So that now we can see the scope of the task at hand. So that… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Listening to the Call of the Shofar

Although it’s not Yom Kippur yet, I might as well begin with a confession. My natural tendency during this season of teshuvah, is to swing rather dramatically between the poles of self-judgment and compassion. I zealously take on the role of prosecuting attorney – enumerating my failings, flushing as I recall moments of regret and shame. (Okay, “moments” may be a bit of an understatement.) After I’ve had about as… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Ebn Leader

Celebrating Creation: The 25th of Elul and Rosh Hashanah

Rabbi Eliezer taught: the world was created on the twenty-fifth of Elul… This implies that Adam was created on Rosh Hashanah. In the first hour [of that day] the idea arose [in the Divine mind to create humankind]… in the ninth [hour Adam and Eve were] commanded [not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge], in the tenth [hour they] transgressed the commandment, in the eleventh [hour they were] judged,… Read Article →