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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 Noach (October 17, 2015)
By Cara L. Glickman
PARASHAT NOACH IS A FAMILIAR STORY. When my grandfather retired from working in the insurance business, he took up carpentry as a hobby. For one of his projects, he built an ark for each pair of grandchildren from his three children, and these arks are a wooden treasure that his great-grandchildren enjoy to this day. From our youngest years, the animals going two by two into the ark, the flooding of the earth and the dove returning with an olive branch, is a wonderful tale we read in picture books or played with using figurines.

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Parashat B'reishit (October 10, 2015)
By Saul Kaiserman
AS BEFITS THE INSCRUTABLE STORY OF CREATION, occurring beyond the limits of our scientific research and historic knowledge, the very first word of the Torah contains within it a mystery. Although the traditional English translation is “In the beginning,” it more accurately should be translated as “In a beginning” — in one beginning, among other beginnings. This is a significant difference. If it is “a” beginning, then that implies that God created other worlds besides our own!

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Chol HaMo-eid Sukkot (October 3, 2015)
By Rabbi David M. Posner
The Book of Leviticus (23:40) speaks of four kinds of species — arbaah minim — to be used in the observance of the festival of Sukkot. They are known collectively as the lulav and are used on the first seven days of the holiday, with the exception of Shabbat. The four species are the etrog (citron fruit), lulav (branches of palm tree), hadasim (branches of three-leaved myrtle) and aravah (willows of the brook).

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Parashat Haazinu (September 26, 2015)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
AS WE NEAR THE END of our Torah reading for the year, we come to one of the three poems attributed to Moses...and arguably the greatest — Shirat Haazinu. It is a remarkable work of art and literature, and I strongly recommend studying it in depth. A clear and compelling summary of Haazinu can be found in The Torah: A Woman’s Commentary, published by Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) — and I am NOT saying this because I am a woman. I have a number of Torah commentaries on my bookshelf, and because I know very little about Haazinu, I looked at several before deciding that A Woman’s Commentary gave a clear analysis of this complex song.

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Parashat Nitzavim (September 12, 2015)
By Wendl Kornfeld
GOD URGES US to choose life rather than death. If we love, obey and hold fast to God, then we and our descendants are promised survival. But isn’t every one of us delivered into this world with a built-in expiration date anyway? Don’t good people still die young? If survival is a basic instinct, then it seems odd we must be told to choose it. We wrestle with this parashat, trying to connect (and sometimes even justify) the commandment, and we could spend hours debating how “choose life” relates to legally assisted suicide, abortion and the death penalty. The controversies will not disappear anytime soon.

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