Tag Archives: speaking torah

Uncategorized Rabbi-Sharon-Cohen-Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: Shabbat Shirah

It is tempting to see this week’s Torah portion as the hinge on which the entire story of the Exodus swings. The process that began with a Cry—the deep, inarticulate cry of slaves so beaten down that they could not muster a protest or even a prayer—now culminates in Song. It is tempting to see this as the Big Turning Point—when we finally leave Egypt behind and step gratefully into… Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi-Sharon-Cohen-Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: Some say…

“To act in the image of the God of Exodus is to reach  out to each other  with our own  strong  hands and outstretched arms.” As we open our calendars to the start of the secular New Year this week, we open the Torah scroll to the beginning of Sefer Shemot, the first chapters of the Exodus story. It is difficult to say exactly where the journey out of Egypt begins. Some… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi-Sharon-Cohen-Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: 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 →

Community Blog Rabbi-Sharon-Cohen-Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: “Just as one candle ignites another, may we ignite each other’s spirits”

For a long time, my mother has had two photographs hanging on her dining room wall. The first is a photograph of an empty city street at night, with one small light illuminating a darkened storefront. The second is photograph of a vast frozen field of snow, with a family of four bundled up in their winter coats and huddled together in the foreground. My mother, an amateur photographer herself,… Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: “We must choose life in the world we’ve got, and plant our gardens on this side of the rainbow”

An ancient rabbinic midrash tells us that God created and destroyed many worlds before bringing this one into being. The tale speaks, I believe, to an impulse that is all too familiar. The impulse—when confronted with profound disappointment—to destroy in order to begin again. This is the impulse that overtakes God, as it were, at the very end of last week’s Torah portion. “The Lord saw how great was man’s… Read Article →

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Speaking Torah: Hope for Renewal

Tomorrow evening, Jewish communities around the world will gather to celebrate the beginning of a new year. Hope for renewal stirs especially deeply within us during this season.  We imagine ourselves standing before the gates of a new year, before the gates of possibility, repentance, return, and repair.  But of course the real question is whether we will take the risk of unlocking the gates inside of us.  Whether we… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

First Questions

(Parashat Ki Tetzei, Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) In Jewish sacred time, we have entered the season of teshuva. Often translated as repentance, teshuva comes from the Hebrew root meaning to return. However lost we feel, however far we have wandered – there is a way back. It is possible to find our way home – to God, to ourselves, to one another. At the heart of this season, then, is both a summons and an embrace…. Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: Allow the human breath to be a summons and a blast

This reflection is an excerpt from the Hebrew College High Holiday Companion, published in August 2017, for study and reflection during the High Holidays. Learn more and order your copy. As we enter the month of Av this week, and the period of nine days leading to Tisha b’Av, we begin a sustained period of heshbon nefesh and teshuva— soul-searching and self-reflection on a national, communal, and personal level.  The great Talmud scholar, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz… Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: On Being Caught in the Thicket

This reflection is an excerpt from the Hebrew College High Holiday Companion, published in August 2017, for study and reflection during the High Holidays. Learn more and order your copy. The ram’s horn is silent at first As is the ram. Caught in the thicket, Waiting for Abraham to lift his head and see, It appears at the last minute, Out of nowhere, When it’s almost too late. Of course, it was… Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: Amidst fragments of shattered hope, of love betrayed, of broken promises, we ask the question: What went wrong?

This reflection is an excerpt from the Hebrew College High Holiday Companion, to be published late summer 2017, for study and reflection during the High Holidays. Learn more and sign up for our pre-order list.  Tomorrow, on the 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz – or Shiva Asar b’Tammuz — we enter the saddest period in our sacred calendar.  Many observe a fast from dawn to dusk, as we begin counting the… Read Article →