Category Archives: Seventy Faces of Torah

Seventy Faces of Torah Daniel-Klein

From Reception to Responsibility: God’s Ode to Restraint

Parashat Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1-24.18) A lot can change in a week. It was only a week ago that the Israelites stood at Mount Sinai – through the thunder, lightning and shofar blasts, experiencing the overwhelming revelation of God’s presence. And then this week, the parasha opens with God saying to Moshe, “These are the laws you must place before” [the Israelites] (Exodus 21:1). Gone are the Divine pyrotechnics. Gone is… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Margie Klein Ronkin

You Cannot Do It Alone

Parashat Yitro (Exodus 18:1-20:23) As a rabbi and organizer for social justice, the past 15 months have been a moral nightmare and an organizer’s dream come true.  As our government increasingly hurts communities of color, poor people, and religious minorities, thousands of concerned citizens—of diverse backgrounds—are coming out of the woodwork, eager to fight back.  Many are entering the political fray for the first time. For years, leaders in the… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah brian-besser-100x100px

Components of Faith

Parashat B’Shalach (Exodus 13:17-17:15) A congregant I’ll call K. just found out she has cancer. “I can’t halt the parade of anxious thoughts,” she tells me. “All my hair will fall out. What if the treatment doesn’t work? I’m going to die.” K. has a good relationship with God. She says “modah ani,” wraps tefillin, and meditates every morning. With the news, however, none of her spiritual practices seem to… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah jordan-schuster

On Approaching the Tyrannical Heart

Parashat Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16) There is this scene from a tale by Rabbi Nakhman of Breslov that’s been hounding me lately. In it, the world has fallen under the sway of a handful of tyrants. Each tyrant claims a different moral truth. Each truth-claim begets a different moralizing discourse. As these discourses proliferate, the world divides, polarizes, rends itself apart. Mountains quake. The earth comes undone. Into the midst of… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Avi Strausberg

The Promise of Exile

Parshat Va’era (Exodus 6:2-9:35) The year I spent living and traveling in New Zealand was a year in which I lived entirely on what I could carry on my body. All of us backpackers, bouncing at once together and separate from hostel to hostel, were reduced to the same couple of unwashed t-shirts and pants, essentialized versions of ourselves, stripped of what made us distinguishable from one another. It was… Read Article →

Community Blog Gray-Myrseth-photo.100px

Shemot / Ignition

Moses said, “I will turn aside and see this great sight. Why is the bush not consumed by its burning?” (Exodus 3:3) God’s memory burns in capital letters and your doubt is the kindling its million mouths reach for. The generations in your blood are a coral necklace, each bead worn blunt by grinding years, desert blush riding high on the surface. Your clothed feet, your naked questions can take you… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi-Sharon-Cohen-Anisfeld

With Strong Hands and Outstretched Arms

Parashat Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1) The story of our departure from Egypt begins with a cry—the deep, inarticulate cry of pain and longing that rises up from the bellies of the Israelite slaves and ascends to heaven. It is their cry, in this week’s Torah portion, that—after generations of slavery—finally evokes a response from God, and sets the process of liberation in motion. “The Israelites were groaning under their bondage and… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah rachel-adelman

Brothers on the Edge

Parashat Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26) The Book of Genesis revolves around stories of rivalry between brothers, from Cain and Abel to Joseph and his brothers. All entail terrible acts of violence—murder, banishment, stolen blessing, plotted revenge, and abduction into slavery—exacerbated by God’s favor of the younger son. Do we see any moral evolution from that original act of fratricide to the relationship between Jacob’s sons, the twelve founding fathers of Israel?… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Suzanne Offit

How Will the Story End?

Parashat Vayigash  (Genesis 44:18-47:27) “Hinei mah tov u’ma na’im shevet achim gam yachad.” “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers sit all together.” — Psalm 133:1 I first learned these words and several musical renditions of this textual snippet as a child, long before I could even translate the psalmist’s words into English. Years later, having learned the literal meaning of this verse, I began to contemplate its meaning more… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi JIm Morgan

Joseph, Pharaoh, and the Perpetual Stranger

Parashat Mikeitz (Genesis 41:1-44:17) This year, as is often the case, we read Parashat Mikeitz on Shabbat Hanukkah, a celebration of light that affirms the durability of our Jewish identity during periods of assimilation and even oppression. In one such period—of assimilation in the United States and of genocide in Europe—Muriel Rukeyser spoke about the gift of being a Jew: To be a Jew in the twentieth century Is to… Read Article →