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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 Tisa (March 10, 2012)
By Rabbi Yael Shmilovitz
MOSES WANTS TO see God’s face.

He really wants to see God’s face.

“Please, let me see it,” he beseeches, ”let me see your Glory!” But it cannot be. “Man may not see Me and live,” replies God and, in an enormously compassionate gesture, instructs Moses to hide in the cleft of a rock, shielding him with his Godly hand as He passes by. God then removes his hand, allowing Moses to see his back.

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Parashat T'tzaveh (March 3, 2012)
By Leah Kadosh
THIS WEEK’s TORAH PORTION, T’tzaveh, is actually a continuation of last week’s parshah, T’rumah, in which God relays the instructions for the building of the Tabernacle (Mishkan) and the design of the priestly vestments. In the weeks leading up to T’rumah and T’tzaveh, the Israelite population witnesses and greatly benefits from God’s divine power and protection on several different occasions and seems to have been provided enough physical proof that the one and only God is very much with them and among them at all times. After God delivers the Israelites out of bitter slavery, the people experience firsthand the miraculous parting of the Reed Sea; their prayers of hunger and thirst are fulfilled upon receiving nourishment in the wilderness; and they are blessed with the granting of the Ten Commandments in addition to other laws. They then are left alone with Aaron, as their leader Moses is commanded to ascend Mount Sinai and remains there for 40 days and 40 nights. (Exodus 24:18)

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Parashat T'rumah (February 25, 2012)
By Robyn Weinstein Cimbol
LAST WEEK’s PARASHAH, Mishpatim, ended with Moses once again ascending Mount Sinai at the behest of God. This week, we read of the explicit instructions Moses is given for the construction of the portable Tabernacle (Mishkan). In fact, aside from the forthcoming Golden Calf incident, the balance of the book of Exodus involves the rendering and execution of this complex blueprint.

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Parashat Mishpatim (February 18, 2012)
By Missy Bell
THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION, Mishpatim, begins immediately after the Israelites are given the Ten Commandments. Mishpatim, meaning “laws,” is a very fitting name for the portion, considering that these chapters are long lists of laws that the Israelites are told to follow. Immediately prior to Mishpatim, the Israelites receive the Ten Commandments, and some commentators say that this detailed list in Mishpatim is actually an elaboration on the laws of the Ten Commandments. Some of the laws include how to treat slaves, how to treat animals and how to treat the land. There are also many laws about compensation for damage or injury caused to another person or their property, including the well-known “an eye for an eye.” (Exodus 21:23) The Israelites also are given the three festival holidays at this time: Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. Finally, at the end of the portion, Moses goes back up to Mount Sinai where he will remain for 40 days and nights.

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Parashat B'shalach (February 4, 2012)
By Rabbinic Intern Hannah Goldstein
IN EXODUS 13:3, Moses said to the people of Israel, “Remember this day, on which you went free from Egypt, the house of bondage, how the Lord freed you from it with a mighty hand.” We retell the story each year during the Passover seder: The Israelites quickly gathered their belongings. They did not even have time for their bread to rise, and so today we eat unleavened bread as we recall their hasty departure. After two centuries, God brought the Israelites out of slavery. And each year, we continue to mark this critical moment in our Jewish story with songs and stories, celebrating as if we ourselves made the transition from slavery to freedom.

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