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Torah Commentary Blog

Parashat Vayeilech (September 22, 2012)
by Rabbi Benjamin J. Zeidman

THESE ARE NOT the words of our Torah portion this week, but rather the words of the haftarah that goes with it:

Thus says the Eternal One: ‘Maintain justice and do what is right, for My salvation is close at hand, and revealed shall be My vindication.’ […] Never more let the foreigner who has joined the Eternal say, ‘The Eternal will keep me apart from God’s people.’ […] ‘As for the foreigners who join themselves to the Eternal in love and service, who keep the Sabbath lest it be profaned, and hold fast to My covenant: I will bring them to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. [I will accept] the burnt offerings and sacrifices they offer on My altar: for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.’ (Isaiah 56:1-7)

Continue reading Rabbi Zeidman’s commentary »

Timely message
Rabbi Zeidman's choice of and commentary on this passage is timely.  At the
High Holiday season, we pray "Zochreinu," "Remember
us," and we also remember.  Those whose Jewish personal memory began
at some conscious adult moment -- choosing to remember our collective
Jewish story -- can experience a feeling of simultaneous belonging and
not-belonging at holidays, even with strong community and family. 
Holocaust survivor and philosopher Jean Amery maintained that without
personal Jewish memory, no adult choice (or even persecution) can make an
individual Jewish.  Rabbi Zeidman teaches our tradition's recognition of
those who live, pray, and identify Jewishly.  Even lacking a lifetime of
Jewish memory, the "new Jew" remembers.  That sense of
recognition in the unfamiliar often first brought her/him to Judaism.

Fred Roden - September 17th

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