The Gravity of Laughter

The Gravity of Laughter

Nov 16, 2019 By Ariella Rosen | Commentary | Vayera

Parashat Vayera opens with a flurry of action. Yet several of the narrative’s most significant moments are driven not by action, but by reaction.

After Abraham runs to welcome the three wandering strangers he sees from the entrance to his tent, inviting them to bathe, rest, and feast, the action slows, opening space for a story to play out in the realm of emotions. The strangers share the news that in one year’s time, Sarah will give birth to a son, ending the couple’s decades-long wait to fulfill their destiny as the parents of a nation.

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A Child’s Gifts

A Child’s Gifts

Mar 23, 2019 By Ariella Rosen | Commentary | Tzav

As an educator, I find it a unique challenge at this time of year to generate meaning from the book of Vayikra, especially for young learners. Homemade board games, guided meditations, and not-so-literal reenactments have all been attempts to translate detailed descriptions of burnt offerings and differentiation of the clean and unclean, into accessible and relatable concepts in our contemporary experience of Judaism.

I wonder how it is, then, that this book has customarily served as a child’s first taste of Torah study, an idea highlighted in a midrash on the opening verses of Parashat Tzav. 

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A Turn for the Better

A Turn for the Better

Dec 28, 2018 By Ariella Rosen | Commentary | Shemot

It’s an all too familiar image: an individual in distress calling out, seeking help, as person after person walks by, completely ignoring their plight. Many of us prefer to see ourselves as the exception, the one who would stop and offer a hand, but statistics paint a different picture. In social psychology, the bystander effect describes the direct inverse correlation between the size of a crowd and the likelihood that someone will step in and help in a moment of crisis. In other words, someone in distress is much more likely to receive support from a solitary passerby than from a large group gathered around them. It appears to be the case that human beings are much more willing to step up when we are alone.

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