Tag Archives: Torah Commentary

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Leora Abelson

Death as a Sacred Moment

Parashat Chukkat (Numbers 19:1-22:1) When June rolls around, I feel a certain sadness that contrasts with the natural world, with the bursting of life in the temperate northeast where I live. June is when the trees are in full flower, the grass is thick, and the days are long. This joyful context means it always takes me a minute to remember why I feel sad—because my grandfathers died in June,… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Or Rose

Look Inward: Learning from Korach’s Downfall

Parshat Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32) In this week’s Torah portion, Korah (after whom the reading is named) and other prominent members of ancient Israelite society brazenly challenge Moses and Aaron’s leadership, resulting in the dramatic death of the rebels through supernatural means (16:31-35). Over the centuries, biblical interpreters have explored the figure of Korah, a member of the Levite tribe and Moses and Aaron’s cousin. What inspired this man to challenge… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Gray Myrseth

Shlach Lecha/Not a Sound

(Parshat Sh’lach  (Numbers, 13:1-15:41) And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation said to them,  “I wish we had died in the land of Egypt or that we had already died in this wilderness!” (Numbers 14:2) Fear is not an animal. It is not warm. It does not bend. Once the ocean bent beneath my hand. Was it that simple? Yes. The crabs… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Emma-Kippley-Ogman

Divine Presence is a Cloud that is Fire

Parshat Beha’alotecha (Numbers 8:1-12:16) “Mai shamayim, what are the heavens?” asks the Gemara about the second day of Creation when earth and heavens came to be separate entities (Ta’anit 12a).  “An old teaching answers: esh umayim, fire and water.  The Holy Blessed One scrambled them together each in the other and made from them the firmament.” אש ומים becomes שמים, the letters themselves combining to make something new out of… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Daniel-Klein

Finding our Way Inside: The Priestly Blessing as a Model for Jewish Practice

Parshat Naso (Numbers, 4:21-7:89) In his book Lost Connections, Johann Hari shares a fascinating and, for me, paradigm shifting study about the connection between work and mental health. The study, done by Australian scientist Michael Marmot in the 1970s, shows that workplace stress and depression is highly correlated to the amount of control people have over their work. The more control a person has over her work, the less stressed and… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Jordan Braunig

In the Wilderness and the Wilderness Within

Parashat Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20) Four books into the Torah and here we find ourselves mired in wilderness. This book, Sefer Bamidbar, though commonly known as the Book of Numbers, would more aptly be translated as In the Wilderness. It tells the story of a people stuck; stuck in existential uncertainty, stuck in mundane nametaking, stuck in adolescent rebellion. Stuck…in the wilderness. A generation of Israelites will perish here. Moses will… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah RabbiBeckySilverstein-100px

Torah:  An Inheritance in this World

Parshat Behar-Behukotai (Leviticus 25:1-27:34) At a recent Keshet LGBTQ and Ally Teen Shabbaton, I asked the participants to consider their relationship with Torah and how it functions in their lives.  Students shared their own experiences of encountering Torah, broadly defined, while considering images of Torah as fire, water, wine, honey, oil, and milk.  The group coalesced around a broad understanding of Torah as path creator, and diverged on how much… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Suzanne Offit

Reembracing Sacred Time

Parshat Emor, Leviticus 21-24 Back in the late 1900s, when telephones were still commonly fixed to kitchen walls and telephone books were found in nearby cabinets, there was a memorable commercial on TV. I would see it when I watched a program at a set time every week. The ad was for the Yellow Pages, the business section of the phone book. “If it’s out there, it’s in here!” If… Read Article →

Community Blog Rabbi-Sharon-Cohen-Anisfeld

Speaking Torah: Hesed is at the heart of our work as educators, cantors, and as rabbis

This week, I had the privilege of attending the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge (JEIC) 2018 Retreat –a wonderful gathering of educators, investors, and leaders in the world of Jewish day school education. Over the course of the retreat, we were asked to think deeply about the purpose of day school education. We were asked to reflect on our own values, and how we would bring those values to life in a… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Daniel-Lehmann

Inward and Outward Facing Holiness

Parshat Acharei Mot and Kedoshim (Leviticus 16:1-18:30 and 19:1-20:27) Just last week marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the modern State of Israel, and this week’s two Torah readings are often read around the time of Israel’s Independence Day. I would like to think about these two parshiot as a lens through which to view Israel’s sacred mission. The two parshiot that comprise this week’s Torah reading, Acharei… Read Article →