Tag Archives: Torah Commentary

Seventy Faces of Torah Michael Shire

On the Impact of What We Say, and How We See (Parashat Balak, Numbers 22:2-25:9)

It was only a few months ago that we saw graphic and horrific images of refugee children dying on European beaches, while Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigration and the building of a Great Wall dividing the United States from undesirable Mexican immigrants. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom (maybe less ”united” these days), the Brexit campaigners, after whipping up a storm of intemperate falsehoods about the impact… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Michael-Rosenberg

When Mourning Is Not Yet Done (Parshat Hukkat, Numbers 19:1-22:1)

Shabbat can function as a break from the unbearably real. We spend our week not only consumed by our personal struggles, large and small, but also tuned to the news, sometimes stunned by, sometimes merely inured to, the near-constant reminders of how broken is the world in which we dwell. Then come the 25 hours of respite that Shabbat provides. For those, me included, who have the practice of disconnecting… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Avi Strausberg

“The Girl Who Said No”

Parshat Korach, Numbers 16:1-18:32 I run from confrontation.  The very thought of disagreeing with someone makes me breathless.  Yet, as a rabbi, I have to accept that people will not always agree with me. Several months ago, I gave a sermon on a topic that I anticipated might be controversial.  I went back and forth, debating whether or not I should talk about it, but decided that if I didn’t… Read Article →

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… 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 →