Shabbat Shekalim - Mishpatim

Posted on February 19th, 2017

Exodus 21:1−24:18 


Rabbi Mordechai (Mitchell) Silverstein, senior lecturer in  Talmud and Midrash at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
Haftarah Commentary: 2 Kings 12:1-17


Shabbat Shekalim is the first of four special Shabbatot which precede Pesah. In the Maftir Torah reading, we read a reminder of the half-shekel tax incumbent on every Jew as a means of support for the Temple, the sacred center of Jewish worship. In the haftarah, we read of an episode involving this tax during the rule of King Jehoash. Jehoash is described as a good king, but with a single flaw: “All his days Jehoash did what was pleasing to the Lord, as the priest Jehoiada instructed him. The shrines, however, were not removed; the people continued to sacrifice and offer at the shrines (bamot).” (12:3-4)  

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Yitro

Posted on February 12th, 2017

Exodus 18:1 - 20:26 75 


By Rabbi Ismar Schorsch. Reprinted with permission of the Jewish Theological Seminary for MyJewishLearning.com
The Word Made Animate
Seeking the living soul of our sacred texts.


Christianity turns on the doctrine of incarnation as formulated famously by the Gospel of John: "So the Word became flesh; he came to dwell among us, and we saw his glory, such glory as befits the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth" (1:14). It is a doctrine that Jews tend to identify as uniquely Christian. Whereas both Judaism and Christianity equally acknowledged that at creation "the Word dwelt with God" (1:1) as both wisdom and instrument, Judaism refrained from ever endowing it with human form. Though valid, the distinction does not preclude the appearance in Judaism of the doctrine. For Judaism, the Word became incarnate as book.

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Shabbat Shira and Tu B'Shevat B'Shalach

Posted on February 6th, 2017

EXODUS 13:17−17:16 


By Rabbi Bradley Artson, The following article is reprinted with permission from American Jewish University, for MyJewishLearning.com
When Miracles Are Not Enough
The transformation into a sacred people occurs not through miracles but rather through steady education, discipline and communal reinforcement.


Surely, this Torah reading contains some of the most dramatic and well-known scenes in all of written literature. The liberation of the Israelite slaves by God, the pursuit of the fleeing Hebrews by Pharaoh and his army, the splitting of the Red Sea, with Israel crossing safely beyond and Pharaoh’s forces drowning in the waters–these scenes indelibly shaped the consciousness of the Jewish people throughout our tumultuous history. We are who we are precisely because we recall our origins as a slave people, because so much of Jewish practice is designed to remind us that we owe our freedom to a God of love and justice.

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BO

Posted on January 30th, 2017

EXODUS 10:1−13:16 


By Rabbi Bradley Artson, The following article is reprinted with permission from American Jewish University, for MyJewishLearning.com
Ready For Renewal

 

Like the Israelites who left Egypt and faced the terrifying choices of freedom, modern Jews face the challenge of responsibly establishing new guidelines and directions for the Jewish community.


Ours is an age of unparalleled uncertainty. While we ransack the past and its accumulated wisdom for guidance today, we also know that the degree of change in every aspect of our lives is without precedent. Groping in the dark, treading uncertainly down a path not previously taken, modern humanity doesn’t know its destination and isn’t even sure it is enjoying the trip. And we have good cause for our doubts.

Consider the degree of changes that this century alone has witnessed. At the turn of the century, a mere ninety years ago–a single lifetime really–wars were fought using foot soldiers, ships and bullets. Tanks, planes, missiles, nuclear bombs, space satellites, submarines, all of these techniques of killing are new to our time.

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Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Shevat - Vaera

Posted on January 23rd, 2017

EXODUS 6:2−9:35 


By Rabbi Bradley Artson, The following article is reprinted with permission from American Jewish University, for MyJewishLearning.com
Bearing Fruit Even In Old Age
The Torah mentions the ages of Moses and Aaron to teach us that age is a source of pride and that by honoring the elderly we bring richness to our own lives.


Most of our lives are darkened by the shadow of aging. We mock the old, laughing at their physical condition, joking about being in wheelchairs, in old-age homes, in hospital beds. We associate the old with the incompetent, with a state of permanent boredom and irrelevance. By bleaching our hair, lifting our faces, breasts and calves, sucking off our fat, and dressing in the gaudiest apparel possible, we hope to “stay young” forever.

Our fear of age trails us everywhere, urging middle-aged women to undergo cosmetic surgery and middle-aged men to find a mistress. It whispers to us of “our last chance” — whatever the vice in question. There is a frenzied quality to our recreation, our relationships, and to our acquisition of property, since we expect all of them to ward off the inevitable — death.

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