Tag Archives: Torah Commentary

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 →

Seventy Faces of Torah Cantor Ken Richmond

Listening to Darth Vader, the Good Guy

(Parashat Tetzaveh, Exodus 27:20-30:10/Shabbat Zachor, Deuteronomy 25:17-19) After a Purim puppet show for the toddlers in our temple’s nursery school, the rabbi and I asked the kids what they were planning to dress up as for Purim. One of the boys raised his hand and answered “Darth Vader.” “Oh, you’re going to be a bad guy!” exclaimed the rabbi. The boy answered assuredly, “No, he’s a good guy.” I considered… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Adam Lavitt

The Sacred Space Between Us (Parshat Terumah, Exodus 25:1-27:19)

Over the course of the fall semester, several swastikas appeared on the college campus at which I work. When I first saw a picture of one, spray-painted on the inside of a bathroom stall in the library, I was pained by the depiction of a symbol that is inextricably bound up with the systematic murder of many of my family members. What was particularly disconcerting about these symbols was that… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Nehemia Polen

The Virtuous Circle of Ethical Sensitivity

Parashat Mishpatim, Exodus 21:1-24:18 The set of community regulations collected in Exodus 21: 1- 23: 33, which make up the bulk of Parshat Mishpatim, shows many points of similarity with other ancient legal collections from the Ancient Near East, such as the famous Code of Hammurabi. But, as scholars such as Moshe Greenberg and Nahum Sarna have pointed out, there are significant differences as well, such as the avoidance of… Read Article →

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

I Thought Everyone Ended with “God Bless America”

Parshat B’shalach, Exodus 13:17−17:16 The political events of the past few months in the US have left me, like so many people, feeling at sea. What I thought I knew and believed about this country was not right. There is more misogyny, more racism, more anti-semitism, more debasement of the political culture than I imagined people would put up with. I have friends who have taken refuge and inspiration in… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Ma'ayan Sands

Moses, Exodus and Being a Messenger of God

Dvar Torah for Congregation Mishkan Tefillah, Parashat Bo, February 3, 2017* The Biblical teaching that we are created “b’tzelem Elohim”, in the image of God, is a cornerstone of Judaism. Often, we understand it to be a mandate of how we should act toward and treat each other. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik has another idea. He says is that each one of us is a messenger, created B’tzelem Elohim, in the… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman

Turning Back to the Center

Parshat Bo, Exodus 10:1-13:16 In our buildings and with our bodies, we strive to turn physically toward the holy. We orient synagogue buildings toward the ancient place of the Holy of Holies, the innermost part of the ancient Temple, and turn our bodies in that direction for prayer. Approaching and leaving the bimah, from which services are led and the Torah is read, we keep our faces toward the ark and… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Nehemia Polen

Tu Bi-Shvat: Nurturing the Tree of Life

To judge by our classical sources, Tu bi-Shvat barely counts as even a minor holiday. The Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 2a and 14a) mentions the fifteenth day of the month of Shvat as the day which initiates a new agricultural year with respect to the tithing of fruit trees, but specifies no liturgy, ritual, or celebration. There is little reference to Tu bi-Shvat in the early medieval authorities, and even Rabbi… Read Article →