Tag Archives: Torah Commentary

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Avi Strausberg

Where Is God in the Flood?

Parshat Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32) In the beginning, there was nothing. When God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth being unformed and void. Except, that’s not exactly true. Because there was something. There was darkness, and there was wind, and there was water. A lot of water. God separated water from water, creating an expanse in between and God gathered all the lower waters together, and dry… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah rachel-adelman

What is Written in the Book of Human Begettings?

Parashat Bereishit (Genesis, 1:1-6:8) As the saying goes: “All beginnings are difficult.” We are reading Bereshit, “In the beginning…,” again. It is the start of a New Year and I am filled with the tentative joy and trepidation of Yom Kippur in Jerusalem. Just at the opening of the gates at Kol Nidrei, I stood with my three-month-old granddaughter, Naomi Tzipora, in my arms—my daughter and son-in-law by my side—filled… Read Article →

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

A Pink Sukkah: A Suggestion for New Jewish Ritual

Parshat Sukkot (Leviticus 22:26-23:44) There is a story told of Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev that he was feeling chalisha [weak] before the holiday of Sukkot began. He had worn himself out with the fervency of his Yom Kippur prayers. His students gathered around him and waved an Etrog under his nose and the strong and unique smell of the fruit revived his spirits and he entered the season with the… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Michael-Rosenberg

The Weight of Our Wrongs

Yom Kippur (Leviticus 16:1-34; 18:1-30) Yom Kippur is the single most significant day of the Jewish calendar. And so it’s certainly not coincidental that the Torah reading for Yom Kippur, stands in the center of the Torah. Almost precisely at the middle of the middle book of the Torah, we find a description of the rites that would take place in the Tabernacle on the Day of Atonement.  On this most central of days, we… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah rabbi-solomon.100px

Angels in the Wilderness

Ha’azinu/Shabbat Shuva, Deuteronomy 32:1-52 Early in Genesis we find Hagar, with  dust in her hair and on her feet. Hagar is Abraham’s handmaid, pregnant with his first and oldest son, running from her master’s home. She runs furiously into the wilderness and stops by an עֵין הַמַּיִם, a spring or more literally, an eye of water. In Genesis 16:7-8 we read: And an angel of the Lord found her [Hagar]… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Jane Kanarek

Not in Heaven: Neutrality or Responsibility

(Nitzavim/Vayalekh, Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20, 31:1-30) Like all too many, I had an ambivalent relationship with my childhood Hebrew School. As a young child, I enjoyed it. I loved learning to read Hebrew, to chant the Shema, and to tell the Torah’s stories. But as I got older, I started to rebel against my four-day-a-week school. Much as I loved playing the ballgame gaga during break and relished sneaking in candy from… Read Article →

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Ha’yom Harat Olam: Today the World is Conceived

BY RABBI NEHEMIA POLEN AND RABBI MICHAEL SHIRE These reflections  are excerpts from the Hebrew College High Holiday Companion, published in August 2017, for study and reflection during the High Holidays. Learn more and order your copy. RABBI NEHEMIA POLEN: Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev explores the shape of the Jewish calendar: Why does it begin in the fall? Given that the Talmud records a dispute about whether Rosh Hashanah occurs in the… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Adina Allen

Will We Listen?

(Ki Tavo, Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8) In this week’s parsha, Moses sets two paths before the Israelites as they prepare to enter the land. If they heed God’s word, the Israelites will be blessed in every way possible and will be established as am kadosh, a holy people to God. If, however, they do not heed God, they will be cursed in every way imaginable. Their communities will be torn apart, their… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

First Questions

(Parashat Ki Tetzei, Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) In Jewish sacred time, we have entered the season of teshuva. Often translated as repentance, teshuva comes from the Hebrew root meaning to return. However lost we feel, however far we have wandered – there is a way back. It is possible to find our way home – to God, to ourselves, to one another. At the heart of this season, then, is both a summons and an embrace…. Read Article →

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“One Thing I Ask of YHWH: Humility and the Spirituality of Speech”

This reflection is an excerpt from the Hebrew College High Holiday Companion, published in August 2017, for study and reflection during the High Holidays. Learn more and order your copy. It is customary to begin reciting Psalm 27 on the first day of Elul, one month before Rosh Hashanah, and continuing through Sukkot. Like the sounding of the shofar, this twice-daily practice (morning and night) is intended to help us reflect on… Read Article →