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Here We Go Again!
Oct 5, 2018 By Stephen P. Garfinkel | Commentary | Bereishit
What?! Starting Genesis again? We read it last fall. And we read it the year before that, and the year before that. How many times do we need to hear, “In the beginning of God’s creating the heavens and the earth” (or “When God began to create . . .,” or the even better known, but less accurate, translation, “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth . . .”)? Really, don’t we already know that the first chapter of the Torah announces to all readers and listeners that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day?Read More
Whose Revelation Is It, Anyway?
Jan 29, 2016 By Stephen P. Garfinkel | Commentary | Yitro
Parashat Yitro is a Torah reading of monumental ideas, foundational concepts, and widely-recognized importance. By all measures, this week’s portion must be considered a highlight of the entire Torah, since it includes no less (and a lot more!) than the Ten Commandments. This seems to be the right place to explore questions such as these: what did the actual revelation (Exodus 20) include? What were God’s commandments? Why were these statements singled out, especially given the amount of law scattered throughout the Torah? What gives these brief pronouncements their distinctive importance?Read More
Did Moses Die for Us?
Jul 31, 2015 By Stephen P. Garfinkel | Commentary | Va'et-hannan
What a magnificent and rich Torah reading we have this week, Parashat Va’et-hannan! It’s as if the Torah wants to compensate the Jewish community for the week gone by, a week during which we commemorated Tishah Be’av, the putative anniversary of so many devastating events that have occurred throughout Jewish history. This week’s “reward” is a reading that incorporates a restatement of the Ten Commandments (Deut. 5:6-17) followed almost immediately by the first paragraph of the Shema (6:4-9).Read More
The View From the Other Side
Aug 1, 2014 By Stephen P. Garfinkel | Commentary | Devarim
Is the author of this week’s Torah reading, Parashat Devarim, or the author of the entire book of Devarim (Deuteronomy, the last of the five books of the Torah), not paying attention?Read More
Good Ecology Makes Good Theology
Aug 11, 2012 By Stephen P. Garfinkel | Commentary | Eikev
Last week’s reading and this week’s—which together form most of Moses’s second major valedictory speech to the people—provide two aspects of one integral message.Read More
The Arab Spring and Ancient Israel
Feb 19, 2011 By Stephen P. Garfinkel | Commentary | Ki Tissa
What an amazing juxtaposition! The (near) miraculous events in Egypt that we witnessed on news broadcasts over the past week coincide with Parashat Ki Tissa, the Torah reading for this Shabbat. The circumstances of the two are wildly different, yet the fundamental human concerns in each setting overlap to an extraordinary degree.Read More
The Secret of the 10 Plagues
Jan 1, 2011 By Stephen P. Garfinkel | Commentary | Va'era
Parashat Va-era, this week’s Torah portion, is full of drama, including most of the 10 plagues needed to bring the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. Moses has just been commissioned as God’s mouthpiece (in last week’s reading), designated to be the person to deliver the divine message of redemption to the people of Israel and to Pharaoh. Before the action, however, the parashah opens with God’s private, even intimate, declaration to Moses.Read More
Continuing Our Ancestors’ Debate with God
Mar 9, 2007 By Stephen P. Garfinkel | Commentary | Ki Tissa
Location, location, location! That’s not only a mantra in real estate but is also, as we shall see, an essential component in understanding some key elements of Ki Tissa, this week’s Torah reading.Read More
The Poetry of Forgiveness
Sep 30, 2006 By Stephen P. Garfinkel | Commentary | Shabbat Shuvah
Poetry is the soul of religion.Read More
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