Tag Archives: Torah Commentary

Uncategorized 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 →

Pluralistic Perspectives 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 →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman

The Comfort of Our Own Significance

(Parashat Va’Etchanan, Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11) Every week, we invite our ancient prophets to address us through the haftarah (the prophetic reading follows the Torah reading), bringing their vision, their encouragement, and, especially in the previous three weeks leading up to Tisha b’Av, their excoriation. It can be hard to hear the criticism of contemporary prophets; sometimes the ancient words echoing across the millennia can better draw us into the self-examination we… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Elisha Herb

Tisha b’Av: Shabbat’s Unwanted Guest (Parshat Devarim, Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)

One of the most beloved and influential teachers and mentors in my life was Dr. Vincent Harding, of blessed memory. A black Mennonite and champion of nonviolent resistance, he once chastised those Jews who enjoy the privileges of passing as white Americans. For Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement, which included the martyrdom of Jewish activists, he thanked and praised us. And, yet, he pointed out, we often “hide… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah minna-bromberg-100px

“Where We Stopped Along the Way” (Parshat Matot/Masei, Numbers 30:2-36:13)

The John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor, NY was a refuge for me and for my mother before me―a refuge from this world as it is, and at the same time a portal to worlds beyond our own. My mother remembers that the librarian would give her a box of cards to bring up to the top floor and look at through the stereoscope. I remember the heavy wooden… Read Article →