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The Torah

The Plague of Survivalism (Parshat Vayigash, Genesis 44:18-47:27)

Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein | Posted 12.23.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein

In the Torah portion for this week (Vayigash), Joseph, having grown in power and influence in Egypt after his brothers left him for dead in the desert many years before, now reveals his true identity to his assembled siblings.

A Hanukkah 'Raga': An Ecological Reflection

Laura Bellows | Posted 12.19.2014 | Religion
Laura Bellows

Rabbi Katy Allen teaches that Hanukkah is a time to rededicate ourselves to the holy and hard work of responding to climate change. She writes that we "increase our holiness by rededicating ourselves to reducing our carbon footprint."

The Power of the Powerless (Parshat Vayeshev, Genesis 37:1-40:23)

Rabbi Toba Spitzer | Posted 12.09.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Toba Spitzer

Reading Tamar's story in light of recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island, as thousands of people take to the streets to demand changes in our justice system, the Torah poses to us today this question: What happens when those in power fail to acknowledge their errors?

'I and I' (Parshat Vayishlach, Genesis 32:4-36:42)

Stephen Hazan Arnoff | Posted 12.03.2014 | Religion
Stephen Hazan Arnoff

Vayishlach begins with our hero on the run. Recall that Jacob emerges from his mother Rebekah just moments after his twin brother Esau; in adulthood, with his mother's help, he tricks his blind father Isaac into giving him the blessing intended for the firstborn.

The Long Journey of Cultivating Gratitude (Parshat Vayetze, Genesis 28:10-32:3)

Judith Rosenbaum | Posted 11.25.2014 | Religion
Judith Rosenbaum

This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving -- which for many of us is less about gratitude and more about consumption, consumerism and perhaps some family discord. Dedicating time to be grateful is hard; American culture doesn't help us much.

Honoring the Past by Looking Forward (Parshat Chayyei Sarah, Genesis 23:1-25:18)

Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick | Posted 11.12.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick

Reading this week's Torah reading is almost physically painful. The parasha (Torah reading) -- named after "Sarah's life," but beginning with her death -- begins with the elaborately described process of Abraham's acquiring a burial place for his wife.

Resting Beneath the Tree (Parshat Vayera, Genesis 18:1-22:24)

Ariel Mayse | Posted 11.04.2014 | Religion
Ariel Mayse

The Maggid would ask us to apply this way of thinking to the world around us as well, and to our own lives. His teaching calls us to examine even seemingly ordinary moments, and to sense how holiness and The Divine dwell within them.

Wandering and Welcoming (Lech Lecha -- Genesis 12:1-17:27)

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld | Posted 10.28.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

As descendants of Abraham and Sarah, both wanderers and welcomers, may our individual and communal homes be open to strangers, and may our hearts be open to the possibilities that strangeness can awaken within us -- wherever we go, wherever we find ourselves.

'We Are All Noah Now' (Noah, Genesis 6:9-11:32)

Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman | Posted 12.21.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman

In order for there to be a second Creation, the first one is undone: The skies darken to hide the light, the waters come together to cover the land, the plants and animals -- except for those lucky enough to be on the ark -- perish.

Others, Brothers

Jeremy Benstein, Ph.D. | Posted 12.15.2014 | Religion
Jeremy Benstein, Ph.D.

We have parents, spouses, teachers, critics, publicists and therapists. And most important, we have each other, to be supportively critical, and to help us ask ourselves the really hard and thus the really important questions.

Sukkot: Staying a Little Bit Longer

Rabbi Arthur Green | Posted 12.08.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Arthur Green

My sukkah, is up. A few of my students came by today, pulled the old wooden frame with its lattice-work sides out of the garage, and put it together. The whole construction job took about 15 minutes, but created a moment of great significance and joy.

Wake Up to a New Year: A Yom Kippur Reflection

Rabbi David Jaffe | Posted 12.02.2014 | Religion
Rabbi David Jaffe

The shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah are designed to wake us up. How do we avoid hitting the snooze button, rolling over and going back to sleep once the holiday passes? That is the goal of Yom Kippur -- to keep us spiritually awake.

Planting the Seed of Eternity: A Meditation On Rosh Hashanah and Our Planet

Rabbi David Seidenberg | Posted 11.24.2014 | Religion
Rabbi David Seidenberg

Every time we hear the shofar, it offers us a moment when we can, if we choose, reflect on what we are doing to this land and the Earth as a whole, our home and our womb -- all the more so this year, the Sabbatical Year. What will we conceive this year as we listen?

Why Is This Rosh Hashanah Different? (Nitzavim/Vayelekh, Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30)

Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin | Posted 11.17.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin

This week's parashah speaks of this seventh-year fix. It calls us to come together every seven years to hear our tradition's teachings in their entirety. All members of society are to gather in one place at one time and hear the fullness of the Torah.

Beyond Tragedy and Despair: Emerging From Tisha b'Av (Isaiah 40:1-26)

Rabbi Jill Jacobs | Posted 10.05.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Jill Jacobs

If we succeed in building these roads, "the presence of God will appear" (Isaiah 40:5). Emerging from the tragedy of this war, we can -- and we must -- focus on creating the paths that will allow the divine presence to return.

Don't Weaponize Your Words (Devarim, Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)

Rabbi Joshua Stanton | Posted 09.29.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Joshua Stanton

Too often, we draw a false distinction between words and deeds, underestimating the impact that words can have on our souls and communities. We presume harsh words to be fair game online, in the mysterious ether of "virtual" interaction.

Hope and Despair (Masei, Numbers 33:1-36:13)

Rabbi Daniel Klein | Posted 09.23.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Daniel Klein

In a seemingly simple, but profound manner, the Torah portion of Masei challenges us to live between hope and despair, paying careful attention to the possibilities of the present moment, while laying the foundation for the future.

Hope and Despair (Masei, Numbers 33:1-36:13)

Rabbi Daniel Klein | Posted 09.23.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Daniel Klein

In a seemingly simple, but profound manner, the Torah portion of Masei challenges us to live between hope and despair, paying careful attention to the possibilities of the present moment, while laying the foundation for the future.

Hope and Despair (Masei, Numbers 33:1-36:13)

Rabbi Daniel Klein | Posted 09.23.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Daniel Klein

In a seemingly simple, but profound manner, the Torah portion of Masei challenges us to live between hope and despair, paying careful attention to the possibilities of the present moment, while laying the foundation for the future.

Promises on a Bumpy Road (Mattot, Numbers 30:2-32:42)

Rabbi Minna Bromberg | Posted 09.16.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Minna Bromberg

Here in parashat Mattot, the Israelites are already encamped on the Plains of Moab, having finished their 40 years of wandering in the desert. Soon they will spend the length of the Book of Deuteronomy listening to Moses give them final instructions.

Religious Zealotry, Then and Now (Pinhas, Numbers 25:10-30:1)

Rabbi Joshua Ratner | Posted 09.13.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Joshua Ratner

How can we, as humane, 21st century Jews, make sense of this embrace of violent religious zealotry? Further, can we both denounce contemporary manifestations of this religious zeal while holding fast to Parashat Pinhas as part of the Torah we so venerate?

Models of Prophecy (Balak, Numbers 22:2-25:9)

Rabbi Herzl Hefter | Posted 09.01.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Herzl Hefter

Like the great prophet, we must always remain humble in our spiritual pursuits, knowing our limitations and recognizing the possibility of learning from all those created in the divine image.

We Do Not Live by Reason Alone (Chukat, Numbers 19:1-22:1)

Rabbi Amy Eilberg | Posted 08.24.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Amy Eilberg

I do not understand the law of the red heifer, but since the Temple is no more, I need not observe it. I do, however, believe deeply in prayer for peace, even though I cannot know how it might work. I pray every day for peace to come and I hope that you do too.

From the Trenches of the War of Ideas (Korach, Numbers 16:1-18:32)

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Posted 08.18.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Mishael Zion

Instead of seeking to push our opponents down into the bowels of the earth, we must hold onto two truths at once: that we must fight for what we believe in, without losing respect for those on the other side. That is the only fitting way if we seek to live a life of virtue and integrity.

The Divine Presence in Time and Space (Shlach, Numbers 13:1-15:41)

Rabbi Lawrence Troster | Posted 08.10.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Lawrence Troster

Their idea of God is a divinity limited in time and space. God gets fed up at the peoples' continued lack of faith and tells Moses that it is time to destroy them and start again with Moses as a second Abraham.