Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Lev Nelson

The Mothers of the Priests

Parshat Acharei Mot, Leviticus 16:1-18:30 “Elisheva had five reasons to rejoice above the other daughters of Israel: her brother-in-law was king; her husband, High Priest; her sons, deputy [priests], her grandson, a priest-ordained-for-war; and her brother, chieftain of a tribe—and [yet] she had to mourn two sons.” (Talmud, Zevachim 102a) When Nadav and Avihu died on the great day of the inauguration of the mishkan, the tabernacle in the wilderness,… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Jonathan Wittenberg

Violence and Vision

Passover: seventh day, Exodus 13:17-15:26; eighth day, Deuteronomy 15:10-16:17 The ancient rabbis chose Isaiah’s vision of peace on earth as the prophetic reading to accompany the Torah reading for the 8th day of Passover, the Festival of Freedom. The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard lie down with the kid, calf and young lion and fatling together, and a little child shall lead them…(Isaiah 11:6) “Indeed!” observed one of my teachers… Read Article →

Community Blog daniel-schaefer

Counting the Omer: Cultivating Gratitude & Responsibility

When I first heard about Sefirat Ha’Omer (Counting of the Omer), I was intrigued by the notion that the seven weeks, or 49 days, between the holidays of Pesach and Shavuot could be a time for personal and communal transformation. The more I learned about these holidays, the more sense it made to me to envision this period as a journey. Just as the ancient Israelites traveled from Egypt to… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Arthur Green

Liberation: A Sacred Moment

(Passover; Readings for First Days–Exodus 12:21-51 and Leviticus 22:26-23:44) On the second day of Passover, Jews begin a period called sefirat ha-omer, when we publicly count off each day for the next fifty, concluding with the holiday of Shavuot. (Hence the Greek term Pentecost, for the fiftieth day.) While originally a practice used for calculating the agricultural season, the rabbinic tradition used it to establish a deep connection between these… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Michael-Rosenberg

The Mitzvah Of Getting Dirty

Parshat Metzora, Leviticus 14:1-15:3 I am an unabashed lover of Leviticus. And not just the “Be holy,” “Love your neighbor as yourself” second half of Leviticus, but especially the “slaughter the cow…sprinkle its blood” first half. “Be holy” sounds great, but what does it actually mean? What am I supposed to do to fulfill this vague entreaty? But the first half of Leviticus, which deals with how to perform sacrifices… Read Article →

Community Blog Daniel-Klein

Singing in the Dark: Leviticus and the Call for Social Justice

“There’s a part of the singer going way back in American history that is of course the canary in the coalmine. When it gets dark, you’re supposed to be singing. It’s dark right now.” Bruce Springsteen made this statement in 2007, but it is no less relevant today. Current events have brought to the fore and emphasized a dramatic sense of uncertainty, frustration and longing that exists in our society…. Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi Arthur Green

Judaism as a Path of Love

An address to Spiritual Directors International on  April 10, 2016 A rabbinic source dating from the early middle ages quotes the famous second-century sage Akiba as saying: “Had the Torah not been given, the world could have been conducted by the Song of Songs alone.” Quite a world!  Instead of the quaking, fiery mountain of Sinai, we would have only “Behold thou art beautiful, my love! My beloved has gone down… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah sharon-weiss-greenberg

Paid Maternity Leave: Are We “Ready”?

Parshat Tazria, Leviticus 12:1-15:33 6,420 Jewish educators from day schools, campuses, summer camps, synagogues, and other areas of Jewish life…When asked one question—the names of day schools with paid maternity leave—only 11 US schools could be named. While the US is debating how to make America great again, one place to start might be by implementing any semblance of the maternity leave policies that the Canadian, Israeli, and European educators… Read Article →

Community Blog stephanie-weller-levine

Asking BIG Questions: An Eser Perspective

When I signed up for Eser, I figured that if I’m going to explore hot-button issues and Jewish texts with a group of fellow participants, I’m going to ask the “ultimate” questions of soul and immortality. This year’s Eser theme is “10 Social Issues You Can’t Ignore,” and includes topics such as: race relations, immigration, climate change, and gun control. My feelings about two of the topics – capital punishment… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah shoshana-friedman

Strange Fire of the Heart

Parashat Shemini, Leviticus 9:1-11:47 When I was in seventh grade, I had my first role in a play. It was Cinderella in Into The Woods, a dream part—one that ultimately marked the peak of my theater career. I loved going to rehearsals after school, going to the costume warehouse and trying on the rags and gown, singing with the little orchestra. But nothing prepared me for the sense of magic… Read Article →