Tag Archives: Torah Commentary

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 →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Lev

What’s Truth Got to Do With It?

Parshat VaEra, Exodus 6:2-9:35 A colleague calls me to vent: A congregant had told her angrily that she should not talk about climate change in her sermons, because climate change isn’t real. My mother-in-law tells us about a client who says that he voted for Donald Trump because Hillary Clinton is one of the worst mass murderers in history. 2016 brought America’s public discourse to a new, dangerous place. We… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah shoshana-friedman

Going Toward Egypt

Parshat Shemot, Exodus 1:1-6:1 The other day while visiting my parents, I overheard my mom on a call. The woman on the other end of the phone had helped my parents with home decorating in the past, and they had called to ask her advice about an old couch. But within moments I heard my mom exclaiming, “Oh, sweetie! I’m so sorry. When will you be in Boston for chemo?”… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Elisha Herb

Hope is the Thing We Can Do

(Parshat Vayechi, Genesis 47:28-50:26) Diversity can be an excruciating experiment. One person’s story can unravel another’s; our all-too-human desire to be able to narrate our lives in some coherent way can be profoundly challenged by someone else’s need for coherence. At times, diversity fosters a sense of chaos, and efforts to find coherence become especially challenging as our perceptions of difference come into focus. We may feel as if things… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Ariel Evan Mayse

Remembering the Sacredness of Speech

Parshat Vayigash, Genesis 44:18-47:27 Our parashah is in many ways the peak of the dramatic Joseph story. Once cast into bondage in Egypt by his jealous brothers, Joseph has now risen, against the odds, and through his political acumen and remarkable ability to decipher dreams, has become the Pharaoh’s second-in command. A merciless famine in the land of Israel has driven his estranged family to come before Pharaoh’s minister in supplication for… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Monica Gomery

Hope in the Dark

hanuhanukParshat Miketz, Genesis 41:1-44:17 The story of Joseph, which continues this week in Parshat Miketz, tells of darkness and dreams. Joseph, the dreamer, is thrown into a pit by his brothers, and later descends into prison, becoming a dream interpreter. Miketz opens with Pharaoh’s prophetic dreams just as we begin to light the menorah. What ties Chanukah together with these parshiyot? According to a midrash on Genesis, “When the sun… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Daniel-Klein

Grounded in Uncertainty

Parashat Vayeshev, Genesis 37:1-40:23 Last spring, a Federal Reserve survey reported that 47% of people living in the United States could not come up with $400 in an emergency. The striking thing about this statistic is not that some people would struggle to pay for unexpected expenses like basic car or home repairs, but that nearly half of the country would. The world we inhabit and the lives we lead… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah minna-bromberg-100px

Anchoring Ourselves in Torah

Parshat Vayishlach, Genesis 32:4 – 36:43 “Someday soon this rhyming volume, if you learn with proper speed/Little Louis Sanchez, will be given you to read.” So wrote Robert Louis Stevenson in a poem for a young nephew who had been named for him but who he’d never met. The poem ends: “[W]hile you thought of no one, nearly half the world away/Someone thought of Louis on the beach of Monterey!”… Read Article →