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Torah Commentary Blog

Temple Emanu-El’s Torah commentaries are prepared by members of our clergy, senior staff, Religious School faculty and Saturday morning Torah Study group. Blog comments are 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. If you are a temple member interested in joining our team of writers, contact Prince Davis.



Parashat B'haalot'cha (June 2, 2018)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
Wow! I always knew the Levites were special, but I was not aware how special they were. In this portion from Leviticus, we learn that God took them for Himself instead of every first-born male from the whole community of the Israelites and assigned them to assist the Kohanim, Aaron and his sons, in the service of the Temple.

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Parashat Sh’mini (April 7, 2018)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
THIS PASSAGE IS NOT ONLY PUZZLING to modern eyes, but it was to past generations as well. Obviously, Nadab and Abihu did something wrong. But what exactly? The fire that they offered was “alien” (some translations say “strange”). It differed from other fire principally in that “He had not enjoined (it) upon them.” In other words, they didn’t have God’s permission.

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Parashat Tzav (March 24, 2018)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
LET’S FACE IT: Parashat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1–8:36) is not the most fascinating portion in the Torah. Reading verse after verse of instructions on priestly sacrifices can make the eyes glaze over. Still, the verses cited above can be interesting, especially on the week before Passover.

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Parashat Vayak’heil/P’kudei (March 10, 2018)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
“MOSES BLESSED THEM.” Wait a minute! I thought only God had the power to bless human beings. I know the Children of Israel have just finished building the Tabernacle, which will house the Ark of the Covenant and accompany the people throughout their 40 years in the desert. I could understand if it said, “Moses called down God’s blessing upon them.” But Moses blessed them himself! Where does he get the authority to do that?

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Parashat Yitro (February 3, 2018)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
AT THE BEGINNING OF EXODUS, Jethro (Hebrew: Yitro), the priest of Midian, took Moses in when Moses was fleeing from Egypt and gave him his daughter Zipporah, as a wife. Now Jethro has emerged again. At the beginning of the parashah named Yitro, Jethro sends word that he is coming to see Moses in the wilderness and is bringing Zipporah and their two sons with him. Moses greets Jethro effusively, going out to meet him, kissing him and inviting him into his tent.

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