Tag Archives: Torah Commentary

Seventy Faces of Torah Leora Abelson

Intimacy Through Repair

Parshat Aharei-Mot, Leviticus 16:1-18:30 In an interview on NPR, Nadia Bolz-Weber—the founder and pastor of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver—talks about knowing that she will, at some point, disappoint or hurt the members of her community. For her, it is a question of when, not if. She names this often, and she invites her congregants to decide ahead of time to “stick around” when it happens…. Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah adina-allen-100x100px

The Art of Liberation

(Shabbat Chol haMoed Pesach, Exodus 33:12 – 34:26) The Haggadah tells of our people’s journey from the suffering of slavery to our wild, sea-splitting-open redemption. Around the seder table last week, our observance of the holiday began with a question: “How is this night different from all other nights?: As we discuss and unfurl into our newfound freedom, our questions about the particular night of Passover blossom into new and… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Nehemia Polen

Passover Bares the Anatomy of Miracles

The story of the exodus from Egypt is filled with descriptions of signs, wonders and miracles. The Nile turns to blood, the waters of the Red Sea split, manna falls from heaven. Yet most contemporary celebrations of Passover do not emphasize these occurrences, preferring rather to focus on the concept of freedom and its social, psychological and political implications. Talk of miracles is quite out of fashion in our day… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Hebrew College Tablet Logo

Generosity of Heart

Note: This message was originally distributed on March. 22, 2017 to the Hebrew College  community, alumni and friends. Dear friends, Generosity of heart. Nedivut halev. This is the starting place for the building of the mishkan. This is how we begin to make room for the divine presence in our midst. In this week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel-Pekudei, Moses instructs all of the generous hearted among the people to bring offerings to the Lord… Read Article →

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 →