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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 Yitro (February 3, 2018)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
AT THE BEGINNING OF EXODUS, Jethro (Hebrew: Yitro), the priest of Midian, took Moses in when Moses was fleeing from Egypt and gave him his daughter Zipporah, as a wife. Now Jethro has emerged again. At the beginning of the parashah named Yitro, Jethro sends word that he is coming to see Moses in the wilderness and is bringing Zipporah and their two sons with him. Moses greets Jethro effusively, going out to meet him, kissing him and inviting him into his tent.

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“The Power to Affirm Humanity” – Parashat Sh’mot (January 6, 2018)
By Rabbi Sara Sapadin
IN HER ASTUTE ANALYSIS OF Parashat Sh’mot, Rabbi Bassin discusses the Israelites’ compulsion to see themselves as agents of their own downfall. Pharaoh would not have turned against them unwittingly, so the Israelites must have done something to prompt him. That something is identified in the verse: But the Israelites were “fertile, swarmed, and multiplied themselves greatly” (Exodus 1:7). One word, “swarmed,” is all it takes to characterize an entire people as a squirmy, slimy, buzzing pestilence.

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Parashat Sh'mot (January 6, 2018)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
IN A LAND OF DESERTS, the well must have been the local meeting place. Many stories in the Torah follow a pattern: The younger son becomes the preferred sibling instead of his older brother; the man asks his wife to say she is his sister; or, in this case, the couple meets at a well.

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Parashat Mikeitz (December 16, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
THE STORY OF JOSEPH IS FAMILIAR TO MOST OF US. We read it in Sunday School, and in case we were absent that day, the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat provided an enjoyable recap. We are told the story has a happy ending. Joseph is sold into slavery, but he uses his wits and interprets Pharaoh’s dreams, and Pharaoh makes him the Number 2 man in Egypt. Then his brothers come to Egypt looking for food, and after various deceptions and revelations, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and is reunited with them and his father. And everyone lives happily ever after.

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Parashat Vayeishev (December 9, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
MY MOTHER-IN-LAW ATTENDED SATURDAY MORNING SERVICES AT TEMPLE EMANU-EL REGULARLY. One day, she returned in a state of high agitation. “The Torah portion that the rabbi read this morning was very disturbing!” she exclaimed. “I hope they don’t teach portions like that to children! They are entirely unsuitable.”

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