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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 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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Parashat Pinchas (July 14, 2012)
By Prince H. Davis
THIS IS THE third consecutive year that I have had the pleasure to write a commentary for Parashat Pinchas. There are so many interesting things in it, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll stick to one topic.

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Parashat Balak (July 7, 2012)
By Cantor Lori Corrsin
Ma Tovu ohalecha Ya’akov,
mishkenotecha Yisrael!

How fair are your tents, O Jacob,
your dwellings, O Israel!

THE WORDS ABOVE, which form the opening verse of the prayer Ma Tovu (How Fair), come from this week’s Torah portion, Balak.

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