Tag Archives: Torah Commentary

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Ariel Evan Mayse

Bread and Water: Keeping Our Hearts Open

Parshat Toldot, Genesis 25:19-28:9 Key moments in the book of Genesis often take place near a well, the quintessential place of sustenance. Throughout the first book of the Bible, the patriarchs dig and re-dig springs, in order to sustain their families and satiate their flocks. Abraham’s servant Hagar and their son Ishmael are delivered from certain death in the wilderness by their vision of a mysterious well. Abraham’s servant Eliezer… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Leora Abelson

Honoring Our Burial Grounds

Parshat Chayei Sarah, Genesis 23:1-25:18 When I traveled to Hungary and Poland this past summer with a group of women including four rabbinical students, one rabbi, and the director of a Jewish social justice organization, we visited many burial grounds. We went to cemeteries where important Jewish historical figures are buried, and others where almost all of the gravestones have been stolen or destroyed. (Almost no one visits those cemeteries;… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Hebrew College Tablet Logo

Dvar Tefillah—The Rabbinical School of Hebrew College

13 Cheshvan 5777 / 14 November 2016 Holy Blessed One, today I don’t have the words. I sent down my bucket into the well of language and brought it up empty. Holy Blessed One, I am reeling. From the election. From this post-election week. From the long-standing rifts in this country now being starkly revealed. So that now we can see the scope of the task at hand. So that… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Cantor Ken Richmond

What Would Abraham Do?

Parshat Vayera, Genesis 18:1-22:24 Natick, my beloved suburban New England town, has for the second time this year been in the news because of bigotry. In August, a lesbian couple’s rainbow flag was stolen and their house egged. Last week, in an act of hate apparently inspired or emboldened by the election results, a Natick resident sent a series of racist and expletive-filled notes to a white neighbor, warning him… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah RabbiBeckySilverstein-100px

The Questions That Guide Us

Parshat Lech Lecha, Genesis 12:1-17:27 Isidor I. Rabi, a Nobel Laureate in physics who died nearly 30 years ago, once told the following story: “My mother made me a scientist without ever intending to. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: So? Did you learn anything today? But not my mother…“Izzy,” she would say, “did you ask a good question today?” That difference—asking good questions—made… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Jim Morgan

Poetry and the Blessings of Misunderstanding

 Parshat Noach, Genesis 6:9-11:32 There are utterances — their meaning Is obscure or negligible, But to attend to them Without agitation is impossible. Mikhail Lermontov, 1840 As we come to the close of a bitter election season, in which the use and misuse of language has loomed so large, this week’s Torah portion, Noach, gives us an opportunity to ponder both the importance and the challenges of linguistic diversity. Parts… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah judith-kates-100x100px

Woman as God’s Partner in Creation (Parashat B’reishit, Genesis 1:1-6:8)

In my lifetime, the Torah’s story of the beginning of humanity has loomed large. The version we find in Genesis 2-3, the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, has especially been a matter of intense and fruitful controversy in the years in which I’ve studied and taught Torah. For me, it all started with the French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir’s book, The Second Sex, in which… Read Article →

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 →