Category Archives: Seventy Faces of Torah

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Avi Strausberg

The Portable God Box (Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei, Exodus 35:1-40:38)

I’m hesitant to admit it, but I didn’t grow up camping. I’d like for others to imagine me as someone who could hack it wandering around the woods for a few days, but in fact, I’m, quite inept when it comes to setting up tents—or really, constructing anything. There’s something about all of the bending, interlocking rods, those “easy-to-understand” pictorial directions with arrows pointing here and there—my brain goes into… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

What Went Wrong, and Other Questions (Parshat Ki Tissa, Exodus 30:11-34:35)

What went wrong? That is the question that hovers over this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tissa. One moment, we are with Moses on top of Mount Sinai, silent witnesses to his intimate encounter with the Divine Presence, watching as he receives the tablets of the covenant, the perfect revelation of God’s word. This is the gift we imagine we long for: The Definitive Truth, placed into human hands. Irrefutable, immutable… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Cantor Ken Richmond

Listening to Darth Vader, the Good Guy

(Parashat Tetzaveh, Exodus 27:20-30:10/Shabbat Zachor, Deuteronomy 25:17-19) After a Purim puppet show for the toddlers in our temple’s nursery school, the rabbi and I asked the kids what they were planning to dress up as for Purim. One of the boys raised his hand and answered “Darth Vader.” “Oh, you’re going to be a bad guy!” exclaimed the rabbi. The boy answered assuredly, “No, he’s a good guy.” I considered… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Adam Lavitt

The Sacred Space Between Us (Parshat Terumah, Exodus 25:1-27:19)

Over the course of the fall semester, several swastikas appeared on the college campus at which I work. When I first saw a picture of one, spray-painted on the inside of a bathroom stall in the library, I was pained by the depiction of a symbol that is inextricably bound up with the systematic murder of many of my family members. What was particularly disconcerting about these symbols was that… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Nehemia Polen

The Virtuous Circle of Ethical Sensitivity

Parashat Mishpatim, Exodus 21:1-24:18 The set of community regulations collected in Exodus 21: 1- 23: 33, which make up the bulk of Parshat Mishpatim, shows many points of similarity with other ancient legal collections from the Ancient Near East, such as the famous Code of Hammurabi. But, as scholars such as Moshe Greenberg and Nahum Sarna have pointed out, there are significant differences as well, such as the avoidance of… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Dan Judson, Director of Professional Development and Placement

I Thought Everyone Ended with “God Bless America”

Parshat B’shalach, Exodus 13:17−17:16 The political events of the past few months in the US have left me, like so many people, feeling at sea. What I thought I knew and believed about this country was not right. There is more misogyny, more racism, more anti-semitism, more debasement of the political culture than I imagined people would put up with. I have friends who have taken refuge and inspiration in… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman

Turning Back to the Center

Parshat Bo, Exodus 10:1-13:16 In our buildings and with our bodies, we strive to turn physically toward the holy. We orient synagogue buildings toward the ancient place of the Holy of Holies, the innermost part of the ancient Temple, and turn our bodies in that direction for prayer. Approaching and leaving the bimah, from which services are led and the Torah is read, we keep our faces toward the ark and… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Lev

What’s Truth Got to Do With It?

Parshat VaEra, Exodus 6:2-9:35 A colleague calls me to vent: A congregant had told her angrily that she should not talk about climate change in her sermons, because climate change isn’t real. My mother-in-law tells us about a client who says that he voted for Donald Trump because Hillary Clinton is one of the worst mass murderers in history. 2016 brought America’s public discourse to a new, dangerous place. We… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah shoshana-friedman

Going Toward Egypt

Parshat Shemot, Exodus 1:1-6:1 The other day while visiting my parents, I overheard my mom on a call. The woman on the other end of the phone had helped my parents with home decorating in the past, and they had called to ask her advice about an old couch. But within moments I heard my mom exclaiming, “Oh, sweetie! I’m so sorry. When will you be in Boston for chemo?”… Read Article →