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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 Bo (January 16, 2016)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
PARASHAT BO IS one of the most action-packed sections of the Book of Exodus, perhaps of the whole Torah. It tells the story of the last three plagues — locusts, darkness and the death of the firstborn. By the end of the parashah, the Exodus has begun, although the Israelites do not cross the Red Sea in safety until the next parashah.

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Parashat Va-eira (January 9, 2016)
By Robyn Weinstein Cimbol
THIS WEEK’S PORTION is about memory, hope and faith. The opening verses, among the most beautiful recapitulations and reaffirmations of the covenant, presage the ultimate act of redemption. We know what is coming, and yet we are swept up in the cadences of this statement. The Israelites have not been forgotten, nor has the promise been made to generations before.

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Parashat Sh'mot (January 2, 2016)
By Saul Kaiserman
THE SECOND BOOK OF THE TORAH is known in English as “Exodus,” which is Greek for “exit,” for it tells the story of our people’s liberation from slavery in Egypt. In Hebrew, however, the book and its first portion are called Sh’mot or “Names.” In this portion we learn the names of many figures, from Moses, Miriam and Aaron, to Moses’ wife, Zipporah, and his father-in-law, Jethro, to the heroic midwives Shifrah and Puah. Others remain anonymous, such as Pharaoh and his daughter, who rescues Moses from the Nile River. It is in this week’s portion as well, that the Bible in a manner most mysterious explains what we should call God.

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Parashat Va-y'chi (December 26, 2015)
By Warren Klein
IN THIS WEEK’S PORTION, we come to the end of the book of Genesis where Jacob is on his deathbed. He is reunited with his son Joseph and meets for the first time his grandchildren, Ephraim and Manasseh. Jacob then assembles his 12 sons together and speaks to each one individually, naming their strengths and speaking of their character. Jacob then gives instructions as to where he is to be buried.

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Parashat Vayigash (December 19, 2015)
By Rabbi Allison Tick Brill
IN MY FIRST SIX MONTHS AT TEMPLE EMANU-EL, I have seen countless ways that our congregation brings Jewish values to life. One of the most striking examples takes place once a month on Sunday mornings, when the student council of our Religious School meets. For more than 100 years, children in the Religious School have been empowered to determine which organizations receive the school’s tzedakah collection. Starting in fourth grade, children can join the student council, where they learn to represent their classmates and consider which qualities make an organization worthy of support. This past month, the student council voted to respond to the global refugee crisis. They felt a religious obligation to help people find shelter and peace, and so they selected the International Rescue Committee as our tzedakah recipient. For the next several months, the money collected in Religious School will provide sustenance and care for refugee families in crisis.

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