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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 T'tzaveh (February 20, 2016)
By Sherry Nehmer
THIS WEEK’S PARASHAH, T’TZAVEH, recounts in extreme detail the making of an Israelite priest, as well as vivid instructions on a number of other ritualistic items and practices. In addition to presenting the procedures for the first ordination ceremony (and let’s just say they’re wildly different from the lovely ceremony performed annually here at Temple Emanu-El as new rabbis and cantors are ordained), we learn the minute details of costume and ritual that make a Hebrew priest. Precious and semi-precious stones on a richly decorated breastplate, the mysterious divination objects the urim and thummin, the fine linen wound ever so carefully into a turban, the bells and pomegranates hanging from the hem of their tunics — these garments of the kohanim, created by the finest craftsmen — “those who are skillful” — ensure that priests are recognizable immediately as separate and important — awe inspiring, even. After all, these people interact with the Divine presence on behalf of an entire people.

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Parashat T'rumah (February 13, 2016)
By Rachel Brumberg
IN THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION, Parashat T’rumah, we read a very detail-oriented account of God telling Moses how to go about building the Tabernacle. This portable sanctuary was to be crafted out of the finest items, which were to be donated by the community, and was designed to hold the Holy of Holies — the Ark of the Covenant. The scale, colors and materials are all very specifically described. And whereas one can see the entirety of the Torah as being a blueprint for Judaism — teaching us the values and traditions we have handed down for thousands of years and that guide us today — it is this portion we actually can use as a guide for building a sacred space. And we do.

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Parashat Mishpatim (February 6, 2016)
By Gila Drazen
OVER THE LAST TWO WEEKS OF TORAH READINGS, we have encountered some of the most defining moments in the history of the Jewish people. In Parashat B’shalach, the people crossed through the sea from slavery into freedom. In Parashat Yitro, they stood at the foot of the mountain and received the Ten Commandments from on high, a moment that began to coalesce this group into a society.

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Parashat Yitro (January 30, 2016)
By Cara L. Glickman
PARASHAT YITRO CELEBRATES a spectacular moment for the Israelites. They leave Egypt and escape the harsh realities of life in slavery. They receive the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. But the parashah is called “Yitro,” and there is much to learn from Moses’ interaction with his father-in-law in the desert.

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Parashat B'shalach (January 23, 2016)
By Robyn Weinstein Cimbol
RATHER THAN BEING BURIED IN THE DUSTBIN OF HISTORY, Amalek has become synonymous with all that stands in opposition to Judaism’s core values: truth, righteousness, justice and courage. In fact, Amalek has come to represent the embodiment of evil, and every so often, a “new Amalek” emerges to challenge us. This has become a recurring motif of Jewish history.

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