Tag Archives: Torah Commentary

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Avi Killip

The Torah needs a Trigger Warning

Parashat Ki Tetzei  (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) My summer began at a panel conversation about “What Feminist Torah Needs to Look Like.” Professor Judith Plaskow, a gadol (one of the greats!) in the field, challenged the 300 people in the room to not skip over the difficult parts of Torah in our teaching and sermons: “There is so much richness in the Torah that it is easy in any specific instance to… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Jane Kanarek

Chasing Compromise

Parashat Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9) “Imma, you’re not being fair!” complains my eldest son as he fights with his middle brother over who gets to choose stickers first. “Imma,” says my middle son, “you always let him choose first!” “Work it out!” interjects their father. “I want them first,” chimes in the youngest. It is a classic parental dilemma: do I make the judgment about who gets the stickers first or… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Shira Shazeer

Blessing, Curse, and the Freedom to Choose

Parshat Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17) I may have been at summer camp the first time I heard the story, attributed to the itinerant Rabbi Haim of Romshishok, of the difference between heaven and hell. Reb Haim, the story goes, had the opportunity to visit the world to come, and was brought first to see hell. There, he observed banquet tables laden with food, surrounded by people clearly suffering from hunger. On… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Daniel-Klein

We Don’t Live by Bread Alone

Parashat Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25) “In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much that we crash into each other just so we can feel something.” (Paul Haggis’ Crash) With these opening lines, the movie Crash captures a truth about the human condition – we need each other. For practical, emotional, spiritual reasons and more, we are meant to be in… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi JIm Morgan

Shabbat and the Persistence of Slavery

Parashat Va’etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:27-7:11) Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.  – James Baldwin Nearly seventy years after its publication, Ralph Ellison’s masterpiece, The Invisible Man, continues to resonate with our nation’s continued experience of race, violence, and blindness. The horrifying scene of white cop murdering an unarmed black man, Brother Tod Clifton, finds echoes in too many American places, as… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Minna Bromberg

Take These Words: Deuteronomy and Carrying Torah With Us on Our Journey

Parashat Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22) “Kyewwwwww!” my nearly two-and-a-half year old daughter shrieks as she grabs hold of the object of her desire and lifts it high above her head. It is purple and spongy and covered in red polka dots and it is, in fact, a capital letter Q. To say that “Q” is her favorite letter would not be quite accurate. “Q” is actually, as far as I can… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Cantor Ken Richmond

Where have you come from and where are you going?

Starting Points & Destinations on our Journeys Parashat Massei (Numbers 33:1-36:13) A middle school history teacher once asked my class why people immigrate; our suggestions all fell under her simple overarching answer, that people immigrate in search of a better life. Almost all Americans, the Jewish community included, are descendants of immigrants; many of us have stories of how our families came to the United States. My Zayda, Sol (Shleime… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Jane Kanarek

Asking for Change

About ten years ago, I was introduced to two books that have become part of my must-read list: Women Don’t Ask and Ask For It. Written by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, these books describe the cultural reasons women do not often ask for what they want, the costs of not doing so, and strategies for negotiation. In contexts both personal and professional, these books teach women how to ask and, in the… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Gray Myrseth

Justice in the Wilderness

As a person who grew up in a relatively non-observant Jewish home, with little to no Hebrew, I used to only know the fourth book of the Torah as Numbers. This title calls to mind an orderly census-taking, a linear and rational accounting. And to be sure, there is plenty of counting in the Book of Numbers, but that tidiness is a thin veneer over the turmoil, wandering, crying out,… Read Article →

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

Something of Redemption

Parshat Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9) This week’s Torah portion contains one of the more famous verses from the Torah, “How good are your tents Jacob, your dwelling places Israel/ mah tovu ohalekha Yaakov, mishkanotekha Yisrael” The context for the verse is the unusual tale of Balaam. Balaam is a foreign prophet who is called to curse Israel by Balak, a king who fears Israel’s might. But every time Balaam comes to… Read Article →