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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 Emor (May 9, 2015)
By Ellen Rothschild French
PARASHAT EMOR ENUMERATES the ways in which the Temple priests were instructed to maintain ritual purity. Ritual purity helped the Temple priests to arrive at a state of physical holiness, which enabled them to connect with God. Through the laws of sacrifice and ritual purity, the rest of the Israelites were able to connect to God as well. The parashah also presents the most extensive biblical account for the observance of the Holy Days (Shabbat, Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot). How is this discussion of attaining Holiness related to the observance of the Holy Days? Why does the parashah discuss what appears to be disparate ideas?

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Parashat Acharei Mot-K'doshim (May 2, 2015)
By Robyn Weinstein Cimbol
AFTER DEATH – HOLINESS… The title of this week’s combined reading evokes images of suicide bombers and ISIS terrorists! But it is through this dissonance that we both confront our own mortality and embrace our capacity to live on a higher moral plane.

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Parashat Tazria-M'tzora (April 25, 2015)
By Rabbi Rena Y. Rifkin
TAZRIA-M’TZORA, our double Torah portion for the week, discusses the body. We are told of skin diseases, discharges and menstruation. These are real-life physical conditions that often make us uncomfortable and rarely make us think of the holy or divine. These bodily fluids are not about what we expect Judaism to advise us. This is the nitty-gritty — not the lofty, highly philosophical and values-driven Judaism.

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Passover (April 4, 2015)
By Cara L. Glickman
THIS WEEK WE CELEBRATE Passover on Shabbat, and we will read the Torah Portion marking Passover. The portion reminds us that the Israelites left Egypt quickly. Their bread never rose because of the rush, creating the matzah we traditionally eat during the Passover holiday today. The group left Egypt and traveled in the desert for more than 40 years. This was enough time for the former slaves to become free people in body and in spirit.

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Parashat Tzav (March 28, 2015)
By Rabbi Benjamin J. Zeidman
IT IS NOT MERE COINCIDENCE that we read Tzav this time of the year. We’ve turned our clocks forward, and Passover is just around the corner. We read this week: “The priest shall dress in linen raiment with linen breeches next to his body; and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar and place them beside the altar.” (Leviticus 6:3) It’s time for spring cleaning!

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