Category Archives: Seventy Faces of Torah

Seventy Faces of Torah Gray-Myrseth-photo.100px

Signs Upon Our Hands

Parshat Eikev, Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 In early July, I sat in a room at a retreat center in Northern California, listening with rapt attention to a group of queer elders telling stories. It was the second to last night of Queer Talmud Camp, a weeklong Talmud-study intensive for LGBTQ people and allies, put on by SVARA, a traditionally radical Yeshiva based in Chicago. “Elder” was a relative term in this context,… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Elisha Herb

Wisdom for Crossing Over

Parashat Va’etchanan/Shabbat Nachamu, Deuteronomy 3.23-7:11 From the top of Mount Pisgah, Moshe surveys “the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that goodly hill-country and the Lebanon.” (Deut. 3:25) The land on which he would never set foot; the land that had been the collective Israelite destination for forty years; the land of their ancestors. Now 120 years old, Moshe entreats God to allow him to cross over. Surely, this… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Cantor Ken Richmond

Lifting Each Other Up: Preparing for Tish’a B’av with Joy as well as Sorrow

Parshat Devarim / Shabbat Hazon (Deuteronomy 1:1-3.22) The Talmud says that when the month of Adar with its manic Purim holiday begins, joy increases, and conversely, when the current Hebrew month of Av arrives, with its impending ninth day, Tish’a B’av, which commemorates the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem, joy is diminished. I wonder annually how seriously to link my personal emotional fluctuations with our cycle of communal… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Avi Killip

How Pure Does the Coalition Have to Be? (Parshat Mattot/Massei, Numbers 30:2- 32:42)

How pure does the coalition have to be? This is the question of the moment. Within the Jewish community, as well as in the broader political world—groups on both sides of the aisle are looking at the people standing next to them, working with them for a joint cause, and wondering how much room there is for difference when it comes to vision and goals. We recognize the need to… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Jim Morgan

Wonder Woman and Pinchas: The Persistent Appeal of Zealotry

(Parashat Pinchas Numbers 25:10 – 30:1) In the film Wonder Woman (2017), the heroine, played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, intervenes in World War I on the side of the Allies. She zealously seeks the destruction of Ares, the god of war (the gods are almost Greek, but seem not to be immortal). Along with her multicultural group of allies, she determines that Ares has incarnated himself as the supreme… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman

Covering of the Land (Parashat Balak: Numbers 22:2-25:9)

Parashat Balak opens with a fearful king dreading the arrival of the Israelite desert wanderers to his land of Moab. When he speaks to the leaders of neighboring Midian, Balak’s fear refigures the approaching Israelites as grazing animals — he says (Numbers 22:4), “Now, this assembly will nibble away everything around us as the ox nibbles the grass of the field.” In a single verbal gesture, the king paints the… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Daniel-Klein

Pushing On Through the Wilderness

Parashat Chukkat, Numbers 19:1-22:1 It has become a cliché that in life, we should focus on the journey, not the destination—we are advised to “enjoy the ride” and “pick more daisies.” It is easy to imagine ourselves within the quintessential image of this sentiment: a carefree, smiling person, basking in the sunshine, driving down an open road with car windows open or the top down, wind blowing through her hair…. Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Adina Allen

The Blossoming of the Beloved Community

Parshat Korach, Numbers 16:1-18:32 As this week’s parsha begins, Korach—along with 250 chieftains of the community—criticizes Moses and Aaron for devising a system of religious practice in which only a select few are designated for Divine service. Where there was once an unmediated relationship, there are now layers—both physical and metaphorical—between the majority of the people and God. “Kol ha edah kula kedoshim u’bitocham Adonai—All of the community is holy,… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah shoshana-friedman

Navigating the Land: Courage and Curiosity

Parshat Sh’lach L’cha, Numbers 13:1-15:41 Last November 9, I found myself in a new land. Distraught, I tried to put my finger on the root of my distress. It wasn’t just that I found the outcome of the election tragic for many reasons; I was experiencing something more profound, resembling extreme disorientation. I finally figured it out when I was reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote, “The… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah rachel-adelman

If Only All God’s People Were Prophets!

Parashat B’ha’alot’cha, Numbers 8:1-12:16 The Israelites journeyed through the wilderness when the Divine Presence still whispered in their midst. Though the sense of God’s footfall has long faded in our own turbulent times, the two rhetorical questions that punctuate this week’s Torah reading still resound. In one, the people complain, “If only we had meat to eat!”—more literally, who will feed us meat?; in the other, Moses calls for shared… Read Article →