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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 Mikeitz (November 30, 2013)
By Cantor Lori Corrsin
MIKEITZ IS THE TORAH PORTION for Chanukah every year, but the special Haftarah for Shabbat Chanukah is from the book of the prophet Zechariah, not from the regular matching Haftarah for Mikeitz (which is from the book of First Kings). In this Hebrew year of 5774, amazingly enough, Thanksgiving occurs during Chanukah. The phrase from our Chanukah Haftarah, Zechariah Chapter 4, verse 6 actually fits both holidays perfectly:

Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit (will you prevail) — says the Lord of Hosts.


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Parashat Vayeishev (November 23, 2013)
By Rabbi Rena Y. Rifkin
WHAT IF? What if Joseph had not been sold into slavery by his brothers? Would he still have ended up in Egypt? Would the rest of the Hebrews have come to Egypt in search of relief from the famine? Would the Hebrews have stayed there and become slaves until the time of Moses? What if Joseph had not found his brothers that fateful day?


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Parashat Vayeitzei (November 9, 2013)
By Missy Bell
THERE IS SO MUCH HAPPENING in this week’s Torah portion, Vayeitzei. We begin with Jacob departing from his parents’ home because he has been instructed to find a wife — one of the daughters of Laban, his mother Rebecca’s brother. Jacob has an eventful journey, encountering God on his way.


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Parashat Tol'dot (November 2, 2013)
By Saul Kaiserman
HERE IN NEW YORK CITY, it is impossible to not notice that it is Halloween this week. But, it should be noted that costumes and trickery are as ancient as the Torah. One of the most famous stories is in this week’s portion, Tol’dot.

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Parashat Chayei Sarah (October 26, 2013)
By Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson
JEWISH SURVIVAL HAS BEEN a source of concern since the time of Abraham and a spark for debate and study for generations. The most recent wave of unease about Jewish continuity broke earlier this month when the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project reported that the intermarriage rate among Jews has reached 58 percent and 71 percent among non-Orthodox Jews. The study acknowledged that it counted individuals whose identification with Judaism was by their own admission “marginal,” but even so, the numbers are unsettling.

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