Tag Archives: Torah Commentary

Seventy Faces of Torah RabbiBeckySilverstein-100px

The Unattainable Destination Shapes Our Journey

Parshat Shelach Lecha, Numbers 13:1-15:41 I once owned a refrigerator magnet that read, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey to get there.”   Each time I went to the refrigerator, whether I was reaching for a snack, meal ingredients, or something else, I considered its truth. Surely the idea of living and learning in each moment of the day is something I preach and teach, but doesn’t the… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah shoshana-friedman

All Who “Wander” Are Not Lost

Parshat B’ha’alotcha, Numbers 8:1-12:16 Like many of us, I found out about the Orlando massacre on Shavuot. It was a terrifying and terrible moment. Once again, our nation was plunged into mourning over deaths that shouldn’t have happened, at the hands of hatred that shouldn’t exist and automatic weapons that shouldn’t be available. At the same time, the Jewish community was celebrating one of our most joyful holidays, the festival… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah jordan-braunig

How Far We Haven’t Come

Parshat Naso, B’midbar 4:21-7:89 There should be a name for the particular sense of pride, the utter self-righteousness, that arises when we modern readers encounter the deeply problematic practices of our Israelite ancestors and proclaim our own cultural advancement. There is truly no better time to assert our moral superiority, to affirm our ethical evolution, than when we confront ancient rituals like that of the ordeal of the bitter waters… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Ariel Evan Mayse

The Forgetful Sands of the Wilderness

Parshat B’midbar, Numbers 1:1-4:20 The biblical book of Numbers continues the story of a people adrift and unmoored, winding their way through the empty wilderness. Much has happened thus far, including times of elation as well as failure; ours has not been a linear journey. God’s self-revelation and the giving of the Torah at Sinai was followed by the sin of the Golden Calf, and then the command to build… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Alicia-Jo-Rabins

Back to the Garden

When I moved from New York City to Portland three years ago, my life changed in many ways. One of the biggest: I began to garden. Gardening may not sound like a big deal. But for me, it’s been life-changing. Not only are the herbs, fruits, vegetables, and flowers I’ve been tending delicious and gorgeous; they’ve also become great teachers of Torah for me. They teach me daily about time,… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Sue Fendrick

The Bells That Still Can Ring: On Rest and Action

I wonder if there is a song lyric quoted more often in High Holiday sermons than the chorus of Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem”: “Ring the bells that still can ring/Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.” It’s not hard to see the homiletical appeal of Cohen’s poignant words to congregations of imperfect human beings. Nor is it a stretch to understand why these words… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Daniel-Klein

The Human Soul is a Candle of God: Finding Meaning in Existence

Parashat Emor, Leviticus 21:1-24:23 (Also read this blog on The Huffington Post) My wife’s grandmother is 94 years old. She lives alone in the same house she has lived in for decades. She is remarkably healthy, but is at an age when many people would have already moved into a retirement community or an assisted living facility. But she has no interest in moving. As we age, leaving our homes… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Lisa Goldstein

Beyond Ghosts and Familiar Spirits: Finding Holiness in the Old and the New

Parshat Kedoshim, Leviticus 19:1-20:27 We are on a multi-layered journey. On the Jewish holiday calendar, after leaving Egypt two weeks ago with all the attendant fear and drama of Passover we are moving steadily toward the holiday of Shavuot–on which we celebrate the revelation of the Torah–and thus toward Mt. Sinai. In the Torah reading cycle, this week’s Torah portion, Kedoshim, gives us a small taste of what we might… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Lev Nelson

The Mothers of the Priests

Parshat Acharei Mot, Leviticus 16:1-18:30 “Elisheva had five reasons to rejoice above the other daughters of Israel: her brother-in-law was king; her husband, High Priest; her sons, deputy [priests], her grandson, a priest-ordained-for-war; and her brother, chieftain of a tribe—and [yet] she had to mourn two sons.” (Talmud, Zevachim 102a) When Nadav and Avihu died on the great day of the inauguration of the mishkan, the tabernacle in the wilderness,… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Jonathan Wittenberg

Violence and Vision

Passover: seventh day, Exodus 13:17-15:26; eighth day, Deuteronomy 15:10-16:17 The ancient rabbis chose Isaiah’s vision of peace on earth as the prophetic reading to accompany the Torah reading for the 8th day of Passover, the Festival of Freedom. The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard lie down with the kid, calf and young lion and fatling together, and a little child shall lead them…(Isaiah 11:6) “Indeed!” observed one of my teachers… Read Article →