Tag Archives: Torah Commentary

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

No Guarantees for the Righteous

Parshat Vayishlach, Genesis 32:3-36:43 The Torah is famously laconic about the emotional lives of its central characters. We are left to imagine what Abraham was feeling as he walked up Mount Moriah with his son Isaac at his side, or what Rachel felt when she discovered that her older sister Leah had laid with Jacob in the marital bed intended for her. It is all the more striking, then, that… Read Article →


Prayer and Meditation in the Aftermath of the Paris Attacks

Last weekend, I served as a teacher at an interreligious peace conference in North Carolina, at a beautiful retreat center at the edge of the Great Smokey Mountains. As we wound down programming on Friday night, word spread throughout the assembled group about the terrorist attacks in Paris. The juxtaposition of our retreat theme and bucolic setting with the violence on the blood-soaked streets of the French capital weighed heavily on… Read Article →


The Long Journey of Cultivating Gratitude

Occasionally, Seventy Faces will include in its publication schedule a timeless column that we especially like—or one that is newly relevant—from our archives. In this week before Thanksgiving, we hope you enjoy (or enjoy again) Judith Rosenbaum’s reflection on gratitude in connection with this week’s Torah portion. Parshat Vayetze, Genesis 28:10-32:3 Next week, we will celebrate Thanksgiving – which for many of us is less about gratitude and more about… Read Article →

Hebrew College Tablet Logo

Skin and Nails, Hands and Heels

Parshat Toledot Esav (Esau) and Yaakov (Jacob), the twins of Rivka (Rebekah) and Yitzhak (Isaac), differ in almost every way at the beginning of their lives.  Yaakov is smooth-skinned (27:11), slippery in his interactions and emotions, and his motives are concealed in the tent of his mother (25:26-28).  Esav, the ruddy one (25:25), smells like the field (27:27), hunts game beloved by his father (25:28), and bears hair like the… Read Article →


Joy and Loss: Holding the Fullness of Possibility

Parshat Toldot, Genesis 25:19-28:9 The Torah conceives and births generations of children before we hear a woman’s voice speak of what it is to be pregnant.  In this week’s Torah reading, Parshat Toldot, we hear Rebecca, the second matriarch of the Jewish people, in response to her twin pregnancy:  “The two children wrestled within her, and she said, ‘If so, why am I here?’ She went to search for God,… Read Article →


“Good Old Age”: Living and Dying Well

Parshat Hayyei Sarah, Genesis 23:1-25:18 Last year this time, my Facebook feed blew up with an article in The Atlantic written by the physician and bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel. Emanuel argued that many Americans were unnecessarily extending their lives, sacrificing quality of life for quantity, spending the last years of their lives physically and mentally deteriorating, in hospitals and nursing homes for unnaturally long stretches of time. Instead of engaging in… Read Article →

bible image

Listening to Women’s Voices

Parshat Vayera, Genesis 18:1-22:24 “Who are you wearing?” “Have you been dieting?” “Can you please have your fingers walk the red carpet with the mani cam?” Questions of this ilk have been ignored or answered with a resounding “no” on the red carpet in recent months. Many female actors are simply tired of being asked about their appearance rather than their talent, intelligence, or the role or performance for which… Read Article →


Becoming Like Prophets

Parshat Lech Lecha, Genesis 12:1-17:27 “Can one man really change the world?” the young senator from Illinois was asked in his Presidential election race. He was comparatively unknown and he had only served one term in the Senate. But he defeated nominees far more experienced and renowned in his run for the Presidency; his great oratory and ability to sense the mood of the times won hearts and minds to… Read Article →

Noah's ark

“That’s Why I Love Mankind”

Parshat Noah, Genesis 6:9-11:32 It is said that “there is no early or late in the Torah” (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Pesachim 6b). In other words, the sacred template of the Hebrew Bible can be reordered so that a phrase from the time of Adam and Eve explains an idea in Jeremiah or vice versa. It also means, if we extend this to the concept of commentary on sacred writ as… Read Article →