Tag Archives: God

Seventy Faces of Torah Daniel-Lehmann

To be a Guest in the World (Parshat Behar-Behukotai, Leviticus 25:1-27:34)

By Rabbi Daniel Lehmann The two Torah readings of Behar and Behukotai (paired in a joint reading this week) conclude the book of Leviticus. The first portion, Behar, begins with the laws of the sabbatical and jubilee years (every seventh year and fiftieth year respectively). Both of these special years construct an alternative relationship between the Israelites and ownership of land, agriculture, and human servitude. One verse in the middle of… Read Article →

Pluralistic Perspectives Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

“As we count each day and bless the counting, may we be reminded to count our blessings”

Dear friends, Every day, from the second night of Passover to the festival of Shavuot, we literally count our days. The period is known as the Omer, originally rooted in the agricultural rhythms of ancient Israel, a time of both anxiety and anticipation, as farmers waited to see what the season’s first harvest would yield. Most of us are far removed from the experience of watching for signs of a… Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi Jim Morgan

Shame and Drawing Close to Holiness (Parshat Shemini, Leviticus 9:1-11:47)

In a 2016 New York Times Op-Ed, Sally L. Satel and Scott O. Lilienfeld observe that modern American culture has been “down on shame [as] a damaging, useless emotion that we should neither feel ourselves nor make others feel.” This trend is unfortunate, they argue, because it ignores the positive role that “appropriate shame”—which they define as “the feeling that one has failed to live up to one’s own standards”—can play… 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 o-NUMBERS-19-1-22-1-facebook

Dying a Good Death, and Getting ‘There’

Dedicated to Rami Wernik z”l, cherished Jewish educator. How do you want to die, and what are you doing to get there? In the world of real estate, the message is: “Location, location, location.” Somehow, it also seems an appropriate message when reading so many biblical stories, including (in Parshat Hukkat) that of Miriam’s death. The children of Israel, the whole congregation of Israel, arrive in the Zin desert, “and… Read Article →

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A Priesthood of the Imperfect

Parshat Emor begins with a discussion of taboos around priestly purity, forbidding members of the priestly tribe to have contact with the dead or to engage in certain mourning practices. The rabbis read the verses to exclude the situation of a “met mitzvah,” an abandoned corpse, one for whom there is no one else to engage in the rites of burial — in such a case, the priest is permitted… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah blue-sky-and-clouds-136x136

Walking Through Cloud

The beginning of this week’s double Torah portion opens with a warning to Aaron that, in addition to not approaching the altar in a state of intoxication, he should be on his guard in the presence of God in the actual sanctuary, lest he expose himself to holiness with too much intensity. The verse resonates with images of Icarus coming too close to the sun, his wings melting from the… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Break-Chains

Getting Unstuck

For the second Shabbat of Passover. There have been many times in my life when I just felt stuck. Stuck in a job, stuck in my family’s circumstances, stuck in a particular emotional state. It just didn’t seem like anything was ever going to change. We all feel that way at some point or other in our lives. As larger groups or national entities, we can feel stuck in political… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Purim-Mask-2

More Than One Thing: Purim and Reflections of the Image of God

Megillat Esther, which we read on the holiday of Purim this week, is a flamboyant, even farcical tale of good and evil. Its characters on the face of it are caricatures of human virtue and vice: Achashueras, the foolish king who sits on the throne but exercises no true leadership or authority; Haman, the sinister power behind the throne who cleverly executes his genocidal plan until he himself is executed upon… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah heart stone

Power, Oppression and the Hardened Heart

This week’s Torah portion begins with God instructing Moses: “Come to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart” (Exodus 10:1). The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is one of the most confusing aspects of the Exodus story, but has perhaps the most to teach us about freedom and oppression in our world today. Before Moses ever approaches Pharaoh to plead for the Israelites’ release from slavery, it seems that God has… Read Article →