Tag Archives: Torah Commentary

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Avi Strausberg

A Web of Family and Friends

Parshat B’midbar, Numbers 1:1-4:20 For many years, I’ve felt like a person without a home. Since I left for college, my mom has moved many times. I have family in Arizona and Israel, New York and New Jersey and even New Zealand, but there’s no obvious single place to go when everyone else goes “home for the holidays”. It’s not just my family that’s far-flung; I’ve done my own share… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Hebrew College Tablet Logo

We do not make the journey to Sinai alone

Dear friends, Next week, Jewish communities around the world will gather to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot and the anniversary of the giving of the Torah. We have been preparing for seven weeks. Counting each day, from the second night of Passover to the first night of Shavuot, through 49 days of wilderness, 49 days of wandering. We offer a blessing each night before we count — a quiet reminder, if… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

“We are all broken vessels, infinitely precious in the eyes of God”

A midrash from Vayikra Rabbah on this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Emor, teaches: Rabbi Aba bar Yudan taught: All that God prohibited in an animal sacrifice, God accepts in a human being. What is prohibited in an offering?  When a person offers, from the herd or the flock, a sacrifice of well-being to the Lord…it must, to be acceptable, be without blemish; there must be no defect in it. Anything… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah jessica-kate-meyer

A House of Prayer for All

Parashat Emor, Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23 A friend of mine once described the pain he experiences each year when this week’s Torah portion rolls around. Ever since a spinal injury left him hemiplegic, he hears the verses Leviticus 21:16-23 as alienating and “othering,” and degrading his connection to the Divine and community: God spoke to Moses saying: “Speak to Aaron and say: ‘A man from your seed (for all time)… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Leora Abelson

Intimacy Through Repair

Parshat Aharei-Mot, Leviticus 16:1-18:30 In an interview on NPR, Nadia Bolz-Weber—the founder and pastor of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver—talks about knowing that she will, at some point, disappoint or hurt the members of her community. For her, it is a question of when, not if. She names this often, and she invites her congregants to decide ahead of time to “stick around” when it happens…. Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah adina-allen-100x100px

The Art of Liberation

(Shabbat Chol haMoed Pesach, Exodus 33:12 – 34:26) The Haggadah tells of our people’s journey from the suffering of slavery to our wild, sea-splitting-open redemption. Around the seder table last week, our observance of the holiday began with a question: “How is this night different from all other nights?: As we discuss and unfurl into our newfound freedom, our questions about the particular night of Passover blossom into new and… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Nehemia Polen

Passover Bares the Anatomy of Miracles

The story of the exodus from Egypt is filled with descriptions of signs, wonders and miracles. The Nile turns to blood, the waters of the Red Sea split, manna falls from heaven. Yet most contemporary celebrations of Passover do not emphasize these occurrences, preferring rather to focus on the concept of freedom and its social, psychological and political implications. Talk of miracles is quite out of fashion in our day… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Hebrew College Tablet Logo

Generosity of Heart

Note: This message was originally distributed on March. 22, 2017 to the Hebrew College  community, alumni and friends. Dear friends, Generosity of heart. Nedivut halev. This is the starting place for the building of the mishkan. This is how we begin to make room for the divine presence in our midst. In this week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel-Pekudei, Moses instructs all of the generous hearted among the people to bring offerings to the Lord… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Avi Strausberg

The Portable God Box (Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei, Exodus 35:1-40:38)

I’m hesitant to admit it, but I didn’t grow up camping. I’d like for others to imagine me as someone who could hack it wandering around the woods for a few days, but in fact, I’m, quite inept when it comes to setting up tents—or really, constructing anything. There’s something about all of the bending, interlocking rods, those “easy-to-understand” pictorial directions with arrows pointing here and there—my brain goes into… Read Article →