Tag Archives: Torah Commentary

Seventy Faces of Torah Nehemia Sq

Seeking God’s Presence in the Sukkah (Shabbat Chol ha-Mo’ed Sukkot, Exodus 33:12-34:26)

Our Torah reading this week, for the Shabbat during Sukkot, is surely one of the most gripping stories in scripture, but at first glance it appears to have little connection with the holiday of Sukkot. The Torah passage narrates the aftermath of the Golden Calf episode, when Moses saw firsthand the apostasy of the Israelites just forty days after the Sinai revelation with its clear command not to make and… Read Article →

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

This Side of the Promised Land (Parshat Ha’azinu, Deuteronomy 32:1-54)

I had the great pleasure a few weeks ago of moderating an event at Hebrew College at which two psychotherapists and two rabbis reflected on their work with dying patients. Among the many profound insights that came out of this evening, I was particularly struck by something reported by Rabbi Joel Baron of Hebrew Senior Life, who noted how often he worked with patients who felt deeply ready to die…. Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Creating Worlds with Our Words: Shabbat Shuva/Parshat Vayelech (Deteronomy 31:1-31:30)

“Every day, consciously and unconsciously, human beings scatter heaps of words to the wind . . .” — Haim Nachman Bialik We live in a world in which we are constantly pummeled with words — words of pundits and preachers, politicians and salespeople, promoters and self-promoters of every persuasion. It feels increasingly difficult to sift through all this verbiage for words that matter. It feels increasingly difficult to discern the… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Daniel-Lehmann

The Reciprocity of Repentance

Parshat Nitzavim, Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20 This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Nitzavim, focuses our attention on the religious imperative of repentance, and is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah in anticipation of and preparation for the Days of Awe. One verse in particular points to a counterintuitive idea about the process of teshuvah (return and repentance) that is worth unpacking. The latter part of Deuteronomy 30:9 states that “For the… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Ebn Leader

Celebrating Creation: The 25th of Elul and Rosh Hashanah

Rabbi Eliezer taught: the world was created on the twenty-fifth of Elul… This implies that Adam was created on Rosh Hashanah. In the first hour [of that day] the idea arose [in the Divine mind to create humankind]… in the ninth [hour Adam and Eve were] commanded [not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge], in the tenth [hour they] transgressed the commandment, in the eleventh [hour they were] judged,… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah rachel-adelman-100x100

“My Father Was a Wandering Aramean…”: The Ethical Legacy of Our Origins in Exile

(Parashat Ki Tavo, Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8) Through two thousand years of diaspora, the Jewish people have preserved a relationship to God and our tradition, keeping alive the promise of return to our homeland. At the center of that promise of return, paradoxically, is a consciousness of the gift of the land, God’s land—neither “your land” nor “my land”. This concept forms the centerpiece of this week’s Torah portion, which begins with… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Adina Allen

Self-Doubt: God’s Presence and The Enemy Within (Parshat Ki Teitzei, 21:10-25:19)

In preparation for the upcoming High Holy Days, during the month of Elul we embark on a process of self-reflection, evaluating the state of our lives and our souls. We recall those times we have missed the mark, and we seek forgiveness for the harm we’ve caused. And we ask what we need to shift in order to be our fullest, most alive selves in the coming year—in the word… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah jessica-kate-meyer-100px

Return Again (Parashat Shoftim, Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)

This past Shabbat we celebrated Rosh Hodesh, the new moon of the month of Elul; sang songs of praise in the psalms of Hallel; and dedicated ourselves to a month of teshuva, of return and repentance, leading up to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. For 30 days, Jews around the world call ourselves to attention with a shofar blast every morning. According to Maimonides, this blast carries an embedded message: “Awaken you… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Daniel-Klein

The Idolatry of Nostalgia (Parashat Re’eh, Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17)

“I was born near sunset.” Though the writer Michael Chabon made this statement about himself in the introduction to his book Summerland, he claims, rightly in my opinion, that it describes a part of the human condition. We seem to come naturally by the feeling of “belatedness,” as Chabon calls it – the sense of having “shown up just as light and fire were fading from the sky.” This sentiment… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah rachel-adelman-100x100

“Not by Bread Alone” (Parashat Ekev, Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)

A friend recently asked me the most basic (and profound) of questions: Why be religious? Like me, he was raised a secular humanist, in a highly cultured, assimilated academic family. While I became religiously observant and have dedicated my life to Torah learning and the Jewish people, including raising my children in Israel, he has remained largely a secular humanist, active in the Unitarian Church in Canada. Nevertheless, we have… Read Article →