Tag Archives: Torah Commentary

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 →

Seventy Faces of Torah michael-shire

Acts of Remembrance

Parshat Vayetze, Genesis 28:10-32:3 Why is it that when we want to get a sense of the sacred, we close our eyes? When we want to feel the holiness of a place or a time, we look inside, and close off the outside. We feel that there must be something out there, but in order to see it, we go inward, shutting our eyes. Ani y’shena v’libi er, it says… Read Article →

Humans of Hebrew College Hebrew College Tablet Logo

Linking the Generations

“I was privileged to work with a student from Ecuador who was not able to have a bat mitzvah ceremony at home, so we conducted the service in Brooklyn, where much of her family lived. We worked together for a year via Skype. I also helped her grandfather put on tefilin. He is a Holocaust survivor who left Germany as a child on the Kindertransport, and this was the first… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Ariel Evan Mayse

Bread and Water: Keeping Our Hearts Open

Parshat Toldot, Genesis 25:19-28:9 Key moments in the book of Genesis often take place near a well, the quintessential place of sustenance. Throughout the first book of the Bible, the patriarchs dig and re-dig springs, in order to sustain their families and satiate their flocks. Abraham’s servant Hagar and their son Ishmael are delivered from certain death in the wilderness by their vision of a mysterious well. Abraham’s servant Eliezer… Read Article →