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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 Mishpatim (January 25, 2014)
By Robyn Weinstein Cimbol
NA-A-SEH V-NISH-MAH. Two deceptively simple words, six brief syllables floating easily off the tongue.

Na-a-sheh, with the root of ayin, shin and heh, refers to a physical action, doing an activity. A version of this root (o-seh) is recited during the Kaddish prayer and also at the conclusion of Birkat HaMazon (Grace after Meals) when we recite Oseh Shalom.

V-nish-mah literally means “and we will hear.” This root — shin, mem, ayin — also is found in the familiar Sh’ma prayer.

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Parashat Yitro (January 18, 2014)
By Prince H. Davis
YITRO DEFINITELY IS one of the most interesting personalities in the Torah. Remarkably, he is hardly ever discussed. He’s Moses’ father-in-law, who faded into obscurity. Most likely, the reason for his disappearance from the scene is that he only stayed around for a year after he came to the nation of Israel.

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Parashat Bo (January 4, 2014)
By Warren Klein
THIS WEEK’S PARASHAH covers the last three of the 10 plagues: locusts, darkness and the death of the firstborn. God’s commandment to eat the paschal lamb, matzah and maror (bitter herb) also are addressed, as are the Israelites’ preparations for leaving Egypt.

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Parashat Va-eira (December 28, 2013)
By Rabbi Benjamin J. Zeidman
THERE IS NO DOUBT that our text venerates those within our community who have the life experience to lead and guide the community. Over again we read about the unnatural old age of our ancestors who tackle physical feats (like giving birth) and show great endurance (like leading the people). The lesson is clear: Those in our community who deserve the most respect are the elderly. It is because of them that we are here today.

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Parashat Sh'mot (December 21, 2013)
By Rabbi Rena Y. Rifkin
MY 14-MONTH-OLD DAUGHTER takes off her socks and shoes a great deal. Most days, she and her socks are on opposite sides of the crib by the end of her nap. When she’s bored in her stroller on walks, we have to be quick and grab her footwear before it falls onto the city sidewalk. Sometimes I wonder why I bother to pick out matching socks and put on her shoes every day. It seems like an exercise in futility for me...unless she is just preparing to approach the Burning Bush like Moses in Parashat Sh’mot.

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