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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 Ki Teitzei (September 1, 2012)
By Dr. Mark Weisstuch
THIS TORAH PORTION exemplifies what I like most about Judaism.

Many laws are discussed in this portion, the most that appear in any one Torah portion (74 out of 613). They range from returning lost property to protecting your neighbor against potential physical harm, even the requirement for extraordinary sensitivity to animals by sending the mother bird away before taking an egg from her nest.

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Parashat Eikev (August 11, 2012)
By Saul Kaiserman
THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION, Eikev, offers us guidance not in what it means to love or how to love but how to remember to love. These words from Deuteronomy — some of the most powerful and memorable in the entire Torah — were adapted long ago as part of the daily prayer service in the first paragraph following the Sh’ma Yisrael (“Hear, O Israel…”), usually referred to as the V’ahavta. (“And You Shall Love”). In saying these words, we are reminded not only to love God but also to remember to love God.

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Parashat Va-et'chanan (August 4, 2012)
By Saul Kaiserman
AS IT WAS for the entire generation liberated from slavery in Egypt, Moses was punished for his lack of faith in God to never see Israel for himself. In this week’s Torah portion, Va-et’chanan, Moses pleads with God to let him cross the Jordan River and see the Promised Land. With no room for further argument, God says, “Absolutely not.”

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Parashat D'varim (July 28, 2012)
By Dr. Mark Weisstuch
IN D’VARIM, the eponymous first portion of the last of the five books of the Torah, Deuteronomy, Moses begins by recapitulating the recent history of the people in their desert wanderings and then describes the battles waged by the Israelites against several Trans-Jordan fiefdoms. The Israelites are on the threshold of entering the Promised Land. This is a new generation. The generation that left Egypt and received the Torah at Mount Sinai committed the grievous sin of lacking faith in the power and promise of God. After being commanded to invade the Land, they hedged, they doubted — they became pragmatic. They strategized that it would be advantageous to send scouts into the unknown territory to reconnoiter the terrain and assess the strength of the enemy. The scouts reported — with two notable dissenters, Caleb and Joshua — that the land was inhabited by undefeatable giants, next to whom they felt like grasshoppers. (Deuteronomy 1:28; Numbers 13:32-33) The people’s resolve wilted; they hemmed and hawed; the grand vision clouded over; they demonstrated that they were inadequate partners to God in the great enterprise of securing the Land of the Covenant.

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Parashat Matot-Mas'ei (July 21, 2012)
By Prince H. Davis
THIS WEEK’S PARASHAH focuses on the importance of the spoken word. In English Common Law, and in most legal systems in the world, agreements that are not in writing and then signed by the parties are of little enforceable value.

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