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Weekly Torah Portion

Judaism and Charity

Zev Gotkin | Posted 04.01.2014 | Religion
Zev Gotkin

Charity is not Jewish. At the grave risk of exacerbating the unfounded, anti-Semitic stereotype that Jews are stingy I'm going to argue that the concept of giving charity does not exist in Judaism.

What the Bible Can Teach Our Leaders About Humility

Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D. | Posted 03.31.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D.

Just maybe our own leaders can take a clue from the leaders of the ancient world, and open their hearts and minds to embrace the power of humility and collaboration for the betterment of us all.

They Were Both Right: How Israeli Society Needed Both Sharon and Aloni

Rabbi Edward Bernstein | Posted 03.29.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Edward Bernstein

The ongoing project of building a Jewish national homeland in the modern era owes a great debt both to Ariel Sharon and to Shulamit Aloni, and it can trace its roots all the way to this week's Torah portion.

You've Been Summoned: Parshat Mishpatim

Harry Rothenberg | Posted 03.24.2014 | Religion
Harry Rothenberg

Wouldn't it help us improve our relationship with G-d if we received a summons to appear in court every time we failed to live up to His expectations? Maybe -- but be careful what you wish for...

Mr. Sensitivity: Parshat Yisro

Harry Rothenberg | Posted 03.19.2014 | Religion
Harry Rothenberg

Why was Yisro the only person to heed the call?

Bless and Remember the Children of Newtown

Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin | Posted 02.10.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin

To truly honor the deceased, it is incumbent upon us to remember the name of each and every precious child and adult. When Jacob blessed Joseph, he said: "in them may my name be recalled."

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Coffin: Parshat VaYechi

Harry Rothenberg | Posted 02.10.2014 | Religion
Harry Rothenberg

The Book of Genesis ends on a seemingly sad note, recording the death of Joseph in the last passage. But is that a sad scene -- or a message of hope and faith?

Arrogance or Love? The Biblical Story of Joseph

Rabbi Arthur Waskow | Posted 01.25.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Two years ago, my life-partner, co-author, and often co-teacher Rabbi Phyllis Berman and I wrote and Jewish Lights published a reinterpretation of the...

Joseph's Coat and Jacob's Gift Tax

Howard J. Curzer | Posted 01.23.2014 | Religion
Howard J. Curzer

His older brothers are jealous of Joseph because of Jacob's favoritism, and perhaps angry at Joseph because he is an arrogant, insensitive, tattle-tale (Gen 37: 2). But that is not sufficient to explain their willingness to murder him.

It's Mine, All Mine - Parshat VaYishlach

Harry Rothenberg | Posted 01.23.2014 | Religion
Harry Rothenberg

Jacob gets attacked by Esau's angel after crossing a river alone. What was so important on the other side of the river to cause Jacob to face danger by himself?

Resiliency Lessons from Abraham

Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin | Posted 01.23.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin

Abraham experienced multiple traumas that included suffering and pain and sorrow. As we are all his children, then that means that we must accept that our lives will also include pain and suffering and sorrow. To be Jewish means to suffer and to stay Jewish is to be resilient. We are not let in on God's master plan.

A Rising Tide Floats One Boat: Noah's Response to Climate Change

Howard J. Curzer | Posted 01.23.2014 | Religion
Howard J. Curzer

As climate change comes crashing down upon us, we will face many hard choices between saving species and saving individual animals. Should we follow Noah's lead?

Property Rights and Wrongs in Deuteronomy

Howard J. Curzer | Posted 10.14.2013 | Religion
Howard J. Curzer

Some people say that when you pay taxes -- income tax, sales tax, property tax, etc. -- you are giving your money to the government. Many resent this; some even consider it illegitimate. But this is a mistake.

Children of God

Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin | Posted 10.06.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin

Rabbi Carlebach used music to reach and inspire people. Following death, we all need to forge our own paths to get back to the Garden. For some its music, for others it is community and for still others it is just takes time.

Torah vs. Libertarians: Round 1

Howard J. Curzer | Posted 08.12.2013 | Religion
Howard J. Curzer

The libertarian view of economic justice is approximately this: If people freely agree to exchanges, then they are fair by definition. Restricting people's freedom in order to bring about or maintain a certain pattern of wealth distribution is unjust. The Torah disagrees.

Who Let the Snakes Out? Parshat Chukat

Harry Rothenberg | Posted 08.11.2013 | Religion
Harry Rothenberg

The Jews are bitten by snakes after complaining again in the desert. At G-d's instruction, Moses builds a copper snake so that the Jews can look at it and be healed. What message was G-d trying to send to them -- and to us -- and how can that message help keep us healthy?

Serpents, Inner Demons And Spiritual Renewal

Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein | Posted 08.11.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein

The tale of the copper serpent is not simply about the destructive power of sin; it is about our capacity to grow, and ultimately triumph, in spite of it.

Did Moses Listen?

Rabbi Joshua Stanton | Posted 08.04.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Joshua Stanton

For all of his brilliance, for or all of his excellence, for all of the ways in which Moses will forever be the archetypical religious leader in the Jewish tradition, he was also imperfect.

Not You Two Again! Parshat Korach

Harry Rothenberg | Posted 08.03.2013 | Religion
Harry Rothenberg

Korach is joined in his rebellion by Moses' life-long antagonists, Doson and Aviram. Will Moses jump at his big chance to get rid of them forever?

The 'Broad' Living At The Edge Of Jericho

Rabbi Arthur Waskow | Posted 07.29.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Rahav, who is specifically called a whore in the opening lines, stands among various outsider and transgressive women in the Hebrew Bible who play a decisive, if unexpected, role in bringing healing and redemption to their people.

Do They Play Baseball in Heaven?

Harry Rothenberg | Posted 07.28.2013 | Religion
Harry Rothenberg

The Jews are told they have to spend an additional 40 years wandering in the desert. But was this really a punishment? The answer may make you think twice about what you wish for.

It's So Easy Being Green: Parshat Beha'aloscha

Harry Rothenberg | Posted 07.19.2013 | Religion
Harry Rothenberg

Aaron was upset that he and his tribe did not get to donate offerings for the inauguration of the Altar. G-d cheered him up by reassuring him hat he would get to light the Menorah. Was Aaron jealous?

Wake Up: God Is Speaking

Rabbi Joel Sisenwine | Posted 07.14.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Joel Sisenwine

God speaks each and every day. Naso is a reminder to pay close attention and wake up to the world around us. Turn off the noise and see the beauty. Don't sleep through the sacred dimensions of life.

How Is My Learning? Proposing An Annual Jewish Learning Checkup

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Posted 07.13.2013 | Religion
Rabbi Mishael Zion

On Shavuot night, thousands of Jews will place learning at the center of Jewish life, encountering texts and ideas late into the night, across Jewish practices and ideologies. What does it mean to take Jewish learning into the year?

The Aftermath

Tamar Frankiel, Ph.D. | Posted 06.19.2013 | Religion
Tamar Frankiel, Ph.D.

Violent deaths should never happen. But when we are witnesses to such evil, we must engage even more fully with the work of perfecting the world.