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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 R'eih (August 15, 2015)
By Rabbi Rena Y. Rifkin
THERE ARE PLENTY OF PARTS of our sacred text that we struggle with: Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice and near-sacrifice of his son; Moses rebuking an insecure Hebrew people after they escape from Egypt; and moments where God doles out a punitive punishment. However, this one line of text in R’eih feels somehow more frustrating and significantly worse. How can we continue to do the good work of tzedakah when the text tells us outright that our actions will not change the future?


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Parashat Eikev (August 8, 2015)
By Warren Klein
PARASHAT EIKEV is filled with directions for the future...what the Israelites are about to receive...but it also is filled with remembrances. Moses recalls God’s promises to previous generations and God’s actions in getting us to the Promised Land. But, while the Israelites are being prepped, so to speak, by Moses their leader, I find that during times of transition in my life I often do not prep or pay much attention to the change that is occurring. In today’s fast-paced world, we often are thrown into situations and must keep up; if not, then we fall behind.

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Parashat Va-et'chanan (August 1, 2015)
By Rachel Brumberg
IN THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION, Parashat Va-et’chanan, Moses continues to tell the story of what has happened to him and the Israelites in the desert. The narrative includes Moses’ pleading with God to allow him to enter the Promised Land (which of course is denied), Moses telling the Israelites to follow God’s laws, the receiving of the Ten Commandments and a reminder not to worship other gods.

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Parashat D'varim (July 25, 2015)
By Saul Kaiserman
THE BOOK OF DEUTERONOMY, the final book of the Torah, begins 40 years after the Exodus from Egypt. The Israelites are encamped across the Jordan River from Israel and are preparing to follow Joshua into the Promised Land. Nearly all of Deuteronomy consists of the farewell address that Moses delivers at this climactic moment. His speech recounts the history of the people’s journeys through the Sinai wilderness, emphasizing the many defining experiences and decision points along the way that have shaped them as a nation.

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Parashat Matot/Mas-ei (July 18, 2015)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
MOST READERS WOULD LOOK at this passage and say, “What has this got to do with me?” And, I don’t blame them a bit. On the other hand, I cannot read the passage without a shiver of recognition. How can words from so many thousands of years ago be so relevant to me?

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