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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.

Pesach (April 23, 2016)
By Jessica Ingram
THIS YEAR, THE FIRST NIGHT OF PASSOVER COINCIDES WITH SHABBAT, and so we pause in our chronological reading of the Torah to focus on a special parashah, designated to be read at the start of the holiday.

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Parashat M'tzora (April 16, 2016)
By Warren Klein
THIS WEEK’S PARASHAH can be a tough one to get through. It begins with the Lord speaking to Moses about the ritual for the leper, and the often strict and complicated dealings with lepers and bodily discharges always has left me feeling uneasy. Also, from the image of the High Priest sprinkling oil to the slaughtering of goats and birds, I find this parashah to feel distant. But then I reread the end of Chapter 14, which deals with the impurity of a physical space, particularly one’s home.

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Parashat Tazria (April 9, 2016)
By Wendl Kornfeld
AT SATURDAY MORNING TORAH STUDY, we need little encouragement to express our opinions. Nor is humor absent. Our backgrounds range from Torah newbies to scholars of related history and literature. The weekly text is examined through the lens of its own time but perhaps more for its relevance to modern lifestyles and values. We Torah students are not shy about challenging, even rejecting, one another’s opinion — including the rabbi’s! After all, if we agreed on everything, then there’d be no need to come back each week. (Then again, there are bagels.)

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Parashat Sh'mni (April 2, 2016)
By Cara L. Glickman
IN THIS WEEK’S PARASHAH, SH’MINI, or the “eighth day,” we learn about ritual practices. Moses, Aaron, his sons and other priests are busy sacrificing and creating signs to appease God while demonstrating to the people of Israel God’s power and might. After God instructs Moses and Aaron to bring forth fire as a part of a ritual act, two of Aaron’s sons appear to take things into their own hands.

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Parashat Tzav (March 26, 2016)
By Rabbinic Intern Stephanie Crawley
ONE OF THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS ABOUT READING TORAH is that there is meaning to be found not only in the words themselves but in how you read them. The Masoretes — a group of sixth through 10th century C.E. Jewish scribes and scholars — developed the vowel notation system as well as the system of cantillation, known as trop, that we use to this day. As a result, the Torah, when it is chanted, is not so different from other forms of music. Both the words themselves, and their accompanying melodies, convey meaning and emotion.

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