Shabbat Lekh-L’kha: Making Light in Darkness

(image: close up in Torah scroll of Genesis 1.4 ויבדל אלהים בין האור ובין החשך G*d divided between the light and the darkness.) Shalom Shir Tikvah learning community, It’s getting darker every day now. How shall we trust our footsteps when we can’t see them? Where is the light that will dispel this hoshekh, thisContinue reading “Shabbat Lekh-L’kha: Making Light in Darkness”

Shabbat VaEra: Revelation Hurts

The name of this week’s parashat hashavua is VaEra, “I appeared.” This, simply put and so very understated, is the epic moment in which Moshe experiences Divine Revelation. G*d becomes unmistakably, believably, manifest. All subsequent experiences of revelation in Jewish history fall short of it; as the last words of the Torah will put itContinue reading “Shabbat VaEra: Revelation Hurts”

Shabbat BaMidbar: Fire, Water and Wilderness

The name of our parashah this week is the same as the name of the Book we are now beginning, once again, to study: BaMidbar, “in the wilderness,” the Book called Numbers in English. So far in our journey from Egypt toward that which is Promised, our Torah has recounted for us the escape itself, theContinue reading “Shabbat BaMidbar: Fire, Water and Wilderness”

Shabbat HaGadol: Being Commanded isn’t Enough, and Neither is Being Free

The days before and after Shabbat haGadol, “the Great Shabbat,” are meant to be a time of excitement and joy, of running around to find the best ingredients and the nicest symbolic foods for our Seder. It’s a time to clean house, to bring out the Pesakh plates and the “good” utensils in honor ofContinue reading “Shabbat HaGadol: Being Commanded isn’t Enough, and Neither is Being Free”

Shabbat Lekh L’kha: Go Forth, in Jewish

This week we cannot assert that the Jewish lifelines of Torah study and prayer are irrelevant for our day. This week it is almost unnerving how much the Torah and our Jewish tradition have to say to us to guide our thoughts and decisions. The haftarah for this Shabbat asserts: The coastlands look on inContinue reading “Shabbat Lekh L’kha: Go Forth, in Jewish”

Shabbat Bereshit: Get Naked

This week, as we begin again to encounter Torah, we are back at the beginning. The first chapters encompass so much: The world is created: human beings exist, and interact with all other forms of life on earth as well as with each other. And there, of course, is where it gets complicated. Here’s where we start:Continue reading “Shabbat Bereshit: Get Naked”

Shabbat Shemot 5776: what do you see in that bush?

One of the useful things about Torah is that every word of the sacred document has been pored over for so many generations, by so many devoted readers, that the commentaries are legion, and a well-worn path of interpretation lies before us as we in our own day consider what insights our Torah might divulge.Continue reading “Shabbat Shemot 5776: what do you see in that bush?”

Shabbat Bereshit: We’ll Keep the Light On

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep (Bereshit 1:2) First comes darkness, then light.  (Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 77b) At the beginning, there is darkness. This is not only true of the account of Creation as we find it in the Book we call Bereshit, known in English as “Genesis”.Continue reading “Shabbat Bereshit: We’ll Keep the Light On”

Shabbat BaMidbar, erev Shavuot: What Is This Torah That We Receive?

The very first lines of Pirke Avot, a famous collection of Rabbinic 1st-century ethical “sayings of the ancestors”, goes like this: Moshe received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua;  Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets;  and the prophets handed it down to the men of the Great Assembly. –Continue reading “Shabbat BaMidbar, erev Shavuot: What Is This Torah That We Receive?”

Shabbat Hayye Sarah: Is the Torah Misogynistic?

This week’s parashah is called Hayye Sarah, “Life of Sarah”. The name is derived from the first verse of the parashah:   וַיִּהְיוּ חַיֵּי שָׂרָה, מֵאָה שָׁנָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וְשֶׁבַע שָׁנִים–שְׁנֵי, חַיֵּי שָׂרָה.  “Sarah’s life was 127 years; these were the years of Sarah’s life.” (Gen. 23.1) This, however, is the beginning of what weContinue reading “Shabbat Hayye Sarah: Is the Torah Misogynistic?”