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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 B'har (May 28, 2016)
By Rachel Brumberg
WHAT WOULD YOU be willing to do for the promise of food and security?

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat B’har, we learn of the Sabbatical and Jubilee laws that pertain to farming and personal property including land and slaves. This passage comes near the end of the Book of Leviticus, where we have been reading about the laws God gave to Moses and the Israelites. There are many laws, so there is a lot to adhere to, to say the least. And most (if not all) of these laws must have seemed foreign to the Israelites back then. (And to us today!)

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Parashat Emor (May 21, 2016)
By Robyn Weinstein Cimbol

PARASHAT EMOR CONTAINS such iconic concepts as “an eye for an eye” (Lev. 24:20), the imperative to apply one standard for the stranger and citizen alike (Lev. 24:22), and the command to leave the corners of the fields available for those in need (Lev. 23:22). But to our modern sensibilities, much of this parashah is irrelevant. It can be divided into distinctive sections, none of which is of consequence to most Jews we know: the regulations concerning priests and the sanctuary, the establishment of the festival calendar, and a seemingly disconnected vignette about stoning a blasphemer. Not one of these has any connection to us today.

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Parashat K'doshim (May 14, 2016)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis

IN THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION, K’doshim, God says to Moses, “Tell the Israelites that they should behave themselves and try to be like Me.” Or is that really what God is saying? Can people really be like God? And exactly how should they behave?

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Parashat Acharei Mot (April 30 and May 7, 2016)
By Rabbinic Intern Stephanie Crawley
IN A CLASSIC EPISODE OF “THE WEST WING,” the press secretary, C.J. Craig, arrives at her office to find two turkeys inside. She is told that she must choose the most photogenic of the pair to receive the annual Thanksgiving “presidential turkey pardon.” Burdened by this responsibility, she begs the President to pardon both turkeys: “The more photo-friendly of two gets a full Presidential pardon and a full life at a children’s zoo, and the runner up gets eaten?!” The President asserts that he has no actual power to pardon the second turkey and instead uses his Constitutional powers to draft it into military service — thereby “saving” its life.

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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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