Seeing the Faces of Noah’s Neighbors

Seeing the Faces of Noah’s Neighbors

Nov 4, 2016 By Anne Lapidus Lerner | Commentary | Noah

I am a farmer, I love my wife,
My sons are many and strong, my land is green.

—from “Flood” by Irving Feldman (Collected Poems 1954-2004)

With these words, the narrator of Feldman’s poem characterizes himself as a hardworking family man—not perfect, but not a sinner. Of Noah he says, “Just like the drunk, the fool, that slut- / Chaser to think of no one else.”

Read More
Face to Face

Face to Face

Nov 24, 2015 By Anne Lapidus Lerner | Commentary | Vayishlah

The tortured relationship between the twin brothers Esau and Jacob has been a significant element in the two previous parshiyot—Toledot and Vayetze. It is resolved in this week’s parashah, Vayishlah. Although there is no peace treaty, the resolution is deeply desired by both brothers and reflected both in the undoing of the language that started the problem and in the brothers’ truly seeing and acknowledging each other.

Read More
The Liberated Bird: Let’s Talk Turkey

The Liberated Bird: Let’s Talk Turkey

Apr 17, 2015 By Anne Lapidus Lerner | Commentary | Shemini

The main course at my Thanksgiving dinner—and perhaps at yours as well—is determined by a few verses in this week’s parashahShemini. After all, Leviticus 11 defines which living things are fit for kosher consumption, granting it a major impact on the Thanksgiving menu of kosher aviavores.

Read More
The Eyes Have It: Looking at the Text

The Eyes Have It: Looking at the Text

Oct 31, 2014 By Anne Lapidus Lerner | Commentary | Lekh Lekha

Matthias Stom’s “Sarah Leading Hagar to Abraham” (c. 1638)—brought to my attention by Mimi Kaplan, a student at the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies of The Jewish Theological Seminary—is a proverbial picture worth a thousand words. 

Read More
Minding Our Words

Minding Our Words

Oct 17, 2014 By Anne Lapidus Lerner | Commentary | Bereishit

On Simhat Torah, we complete the reading of the humash—all 79,796 Hebrew words of it—and when we’re done, what do we do? We roll it up to the very beginning and start to read it all over again. Words, words, words. Devarim (Deuteronomy)—which, of course, means “words”—ends with Moses’s death after the conclusion of his lengthy final oration; Bereishit opens with God demonstrating the power of words by creating the world with them.

Read More
Who Counts?

Who Counts?

May 30, 1998 By Anne Lapidus Lerner | Commentary | Bemidbar

There was tension in the air that night in 1974 as members of Manhattan’s Tifereth Israel – Town and Village Synagogue filled the social hall, eager to join battle on the critical question of whether or not we would count women in the minyan. For those now accustomed to including women, the practice in about 85% of Conservative synagogues today, it may be hard to imagine the emotion that crackled through the air. Rumors about what different people would say were rife. Everyone knew that the rabbi, Stephen C. Lerner, was in favor of changing the policy. Some said that his own father, a respected member of the shul, disagreed with him. As the rabbi’s wife, I was concerned when my father–in–law raised his hand to speak. “When I was a boy growing up in the Ukraine,” said he with a bit of an accent, “and they asked the local peasants how many people had come to the town meeting, they would say twenty people and ten Jews. I think that we should stop counting that way.” The congregation voted overwhelmingly in favor of including women in the minyan.

Read More
Giving Women a Voice

Giving Women a Voice

Nov 7, 1997 By Anne Lapidus Lerner | Commentary | Vayera

I did not celebrate my bat mitzvah on parashat Vayera; in fact, I never celebrated it at all. My birthday on 19 Heshvan gives me, as a legitimate birthright, permission to indulge in constant grappling with this incredibly rich and complex text. Yet I have never voiced that connection with a proper celebration of my Jewish coming of age.

Read More
Reset Search

SUBSCRIBE TO TORAH FROM JTS

Our regular commentaries and videos are a great way to stay intellectually and spiritually engaged with Jewish thought and wisdom.