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Torah Commentary Blog

Temple Emanu-El’s weekly Torah commentary is prepared by members of our clergy, senior staff, Religious School faculty and Saturday morning Torah Study group. An electronic version can be sent to your email inbox each Monday morning by subscribing to our electronic mailing list. Blog comments will be moderated. Please note that we reserve the right to delete comments that are deemed inappropriate, use offensive language, promote personal attacks or are self-serving (promote goods and services). At the same time, we hope that this blog will promote thoughtful dialogue and continued learning.

Parashat B'chukotai (June 4, 2016)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
THE TROUBLE WITH “IF”

This parashah is called B’chukotai, but its first words are actually Im behukotai telehu. (Literally, “If you my laws follow.”) The redactors of the Torah didn’t bother with little words like im (if) in selecting titles for the parashiyot (portions) of the five books of the Torah. But our tradition teaches us that every word of the Torah is important, and any child can tell you that no word is more important than “if.”

Continue reading Bettijane’s commentary »



Sunday May 29th | Post a comment/View comments » (0 comments)


Parashat B'har (May 28, 2016)
By Rachel Brumberg
WHAT WOULD YOU be willing to do for the promise of food and security?

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat B’har, we learn of the Sabbatical and Jubilee laws that pertain to farming and personal property including land and slaves. This passage comes near the end of the Book of Leviticus, where we have been reading about the laws God gave to Moses and the Israelites. There are many laws, so there is a lot to adhere to, to say the least. And most (if not all) of these laws must have seemed foreign to the Israelites back then. (And to us today!)

Continue reading Rachel’s commentary »



Sunday May 22nd | Post a comment/View comments » (0 comments)


Parashat Emor (May 21, 2016)
By Robyn Weinstein Cimbol
IN DEFENSE OF THE BLEMISHED

PARASHAT EMOR CONTAINS such iconic concepts as “an eye for an eye” (Lev. 24:20), the imperative to apply one standard for the stranger and citizen alike (Lev. 24:22), and the command to leave the corners of the fields available for those in need (Lev. 23:22). But to our modern sensibilities, much of this parashah is irrelevant. It can be divided into distinctive sections, none of which is of consequence to most Jews we know: the regulations concerning priests and the sanctuary, the establishment of the festival calendar, and a seemingly disconnected vignette about stoning a blasphemer. Not one of these has any connection to us today.

Continue reading Robyn’s commentary »



Sunday May 15th | Post a comment/View comments » (1 comments)


Parashat K'doshim (May 14, 2016)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
HOLY MOSES!

IN THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION, K’doshim, God says to Moses, “Tell the Israelites that they should behave themselves and try to be like Me.” Or is that really what God is saying? Can people really be like God? And exactly how should they behave?

Continue reading Bettijane’s commentary »



Sunday May 8th | Post a comment/View comments » (0 comments)


Parashat Acharei Mot (April 30 and May 7, 2016)
By Rabbinic Intern Stephanie Crawley
IN A CLASSIC EPISODE OF “THE WEST WING,” the press secretary, C.J. Craig, arrives at her office to find two turkeys inside. She is told that she must choose the most photogenic of the pair to receive the annual Thanksgiving “presidential turkey pardon.” Burdened by this responsibility, she begs the President to pardon both turkeys: “The more photo-friendly of two gets a full Presidential pardon and a full life at a children’s zoo, and the runner up gets eaten?!” The President asserts that he has no actual power to pardon the second turkey and instead uses his Constitutional powers to draft it into military service — thereby “saving” its life.

Continue reading Stephanie’s commentary »



Sunday April 24th | Post a comment/View comments » (2 comments)


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