Protected: ‘Out of Zion Shall Go Forth Torah’: Exploring and Unpacking the Weekly Parashah

Protected: ‘Out of Zion Shall Go Forth Torah’: Exploring and Unpacking the Weekly Parashah

Feb 24, 2022 By Matthew Berkowitz

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

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On Needing Certainty Now

On Needing Certainty Now

Feb 18, 2022 By Yitz Landes | Commentary | Ki Tissa

Imagine, for a moment, that you are an Israelite at the foot of Har Sinai. Over the past few weeks, your life has been turned upside down: you have witnessed mind-boggling miracles, you have been freed from slavery, and you have been brought out into the wilderness, to the bottom of Har Sinai. Too scared to go up the mountain (Exod. 19:18, 23), you and your fellow Israelites remain camped out below as Moses goes up and down, eventually staying up on top as God teaches him and prepares the Tablets. You know that you are going somewhere that you should consider home—to be sure, a place that you have never seen—and you know that many of your practices must change.

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Love During the Holocaust

Love During the Holocaust

Feb 14, 2022 By Edna Friedberg | Public Event video

The Holocaust was one of the most profound ruptures in Jewish history. And yet, the foundational human emotion of love persisted—and even blossomed—in the most devastating circumstances. Dr. Edna Friedberg explores the varied manifestations of love—romantic, parental, platonic—at a time of terror and loss. Each of these forms of deep affection and connection offered psychological sustenance and sometimes spurred life-saving acts of courage and altruism. The session will draw from primary sources including diaries, oral testimonies, artifacts, and historical photographs.

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Garments of Light

Garments of Light

Feb 11, 2022 By Raymond Scheindlin | Commentary | Tetzavveh

Last week, we read God’s orders to Moses for the construction of the Tabernacle and its accoutrements. This week, our parashah continues on the subject of the Tabernacle and the preparations for starting the sacrificial cult, focusing on the Tabernacle’s personnel: the priests—particularly their vestments and the rituals for the priests’ consecration.

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Unlocking the Gates of Heaven: The Transformative Power of Grief

Unlocking the Gates of Heaven: The Transformative Power of Grief

Feb 7, 2022 By Rachel Rosenthal | Public Event video

Grief is a primal emotion, often associated with paralysis, but sometimes it has the power to generate great change in the face of loss. In this session, we will study some rabbinic sources that focus on grief and the ways that the rabbis use it to transform their circumstances and their communities.  

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Holding God, Our Tradition, and One Another Close

Holding God, Our Tradition, and One Another Close

Feb 4, 2022 By Jacob Blumenthal | Commentary | Terumah

As a leader in the Conservative-Masorti Movement, I see my own ambivalence around the use of technology on Shabbat and to form minyanim shared among many communities, clergy, and synagogue leaders. How should we position ourselves? Should the new opportunities provided by these technologies lead the way? Should we temper our enthusiasm?  Should we heed Abraham Joshua Heschel’s call to experience Shabbat “independent of technical civilization” and trust in our inherited traditions to hold us together (The Sabbath, 28)? 

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Emotions and Reason, Experience and Intellect: Two Views of the Book of Psalms

Emotions and Reason, Experience and Intellect: Two Views of the Book of Psalms

Jan 31, 2022 By Benjamin D. Sommer | Public Event video

What sort of religious experience does the Book of Psalms reflect and encourage? Does the book primarily appeal to our emotions, or is it first and foremost a work to be studied on an intellectual level? Join Dr. Benjamin Sommer to see how the Book of Psalms provides its own answers to these questions. By addressing these questions, we will have an opportunity to think about the relative places in Judaism of emotion and reason, heart and mind, and to explore the relationship between prayer and text-study in the Bible and rabbinic Judaism.

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The Torah’s Creative Team

The Torah’s Creative Team

Jan 28, 2022 By David Shmidt Chapman | Commentary | Mishpatim

The metaphor of a playwright and director crafting a new play together can be applied to our parashah. The playscript God is developing is the set of mishpatim (rules), expanding on the Ten Commandments. God begins developing the “script” in a speech to Moses in Exodus 21:1: “And these are the rules that you shall set before them . . . ”

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Between the Lines: When I Grow Up

Between the Lines: When I Grow Up

Jan 26, 2022 By The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary | Public Event video

Author Ken Krimstein discussed his book, When I Grow Up, a graphic narrative based on newly discovered, never-before-published autobiographies of Eastern European Jewish teens on the brink of WWII—found in 2017 hidden in a Lithuanian church cellar.

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Between the Lines: Sanctified Sex

Between the Lines: Sanctified Sex

Jan 24, 2022 By The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary | Public Event video

Author Noam Zion when he discusses his book, Sanctified Sex, which draws on 2,000 years of rabbinic debates addressing competing aspirations for loving intimacy, passionate sexual union, and sanctity in marriage. Noam Sachs Zion guides us chronologically and steadily through fraught terrain: seminal biblical texts and their Talmudic interpretations; ultra-Orthodox rabbis clashing with one another over […]

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The Importance of Shame in Rabbinic Tradition

The Importance of Shame in Rabbinic Tradition

Jan 24, 2022 By David C. Kraemer | Public Event video

We often think of shame or embarrassment as an experience to be avoided, and, to be sure, rabbinic tradition considers shaming someone else in public to be a grievous sin. But the Talmud also teaches that the capacity to feel shame is important, for the fear of shame will keep one from sin. Join Dr. David Kraemer to discuss this complicated emotion and how Jewish tradition “feels” about it.

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Strangers at a Revelation

Strangers at a Revelation

Jan 21, 2022 By Dr. Miriam Feldmann Kaye | Commentary | Yitro

Parashat Yitro is framed by the geographical and conceptual ideas of exile and homecoming. Against the backdrop of Bereishit, the notion of movement is critical in framing the experiences of biblical characters: the exile from Eden; the exile of Cain; the “calls” to Abraham, Jacob, and others to move, relocate, and find new homes.

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Commanded to Remember

Commanded to Remember

Jan 14, 2022 By Nicole Wilson-Spiro | Commentary | Beshallah

In our Torah portion, after Amalek’s unsuccessful attack on the Israelites, God says to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in the book and tell it to Joshua because I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven” (Exod. 17:14). Deuteronomy 25:17–19 repeats the injunction: “Remember what Amalek did to you on your way after you left Egypt . .

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Between the Lines: Embers of Pilgrimage

Between the Lines: Embers of Pilgrimage

Jan 11, 2022 By The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary | Public Event video

Dr. Eitan Fishbane talks about his book, Embers of Pilgrimage (Panui Publications), a collection of original poems incorporating imagery from the Zohar and other Jewish mystical works.

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Between the Lines: Remember KHURBM: The Forgotten Genocide

Between the Lines: Remember KHURBM: The Forgotten Genocide

Jan 10, 2022 By The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary | Public Event video

Author Alexander Gendler shared his book, KHURBM 1914-1922: Prelude to the Holocaust. The Beginning, a collection of eyewitness testimonies and other sources that reveal the destruction of Jewish life by the Russian army during World War I. During World War I, as a part of its strategy against Kaiser’s Germany and to keep itself a united empire, […]

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Teach Your Children Well

Teach Your Children Well

Jan 7, 2022 By Dov Kahane | Commentary | Bo

In Parashat Bo, we read about “Pesah Mitzrayim”—God’s instructions to the Israelites for the eve of their exodus—including slaughtering the lamb and placing its blood on the doorposts as a marker of divine protection. In Exodus 12:21–28, Moshe conveys these rites, including the need to explain them to children. Many of these passages are most familiar to us from the Passover Haggadah. What can we learn from the way they have been incorporated there?

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Cover Crop for a Hardened Heart

Cover Crop for a Hardened Heart

Dec 31, 2021 By Dave Yedid | Commentary | Va'era

These two verses describe the impact of the final plague in the parashah, hail. They come in the short thaw between Pharoah softening his heart—for the first time this parashah—and hardening it again, where our parashah ends. Why does our Torah mention these four crops? What do they have to do with the plagues, or in the calculation of Pharaoh’s change of heart?

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Who is “Us”?

Who is “Us”?

Dec 24, 2021 By Jessica Dell’Era | Commentary | Shemot

At first, Pharaoh feels sure he’s harming only them. These Hebrews that he’d inherited, who’d came with a story about some Joseph prince—but who cares about ancient history? In Pharaoh’s view, the Hebrews are merely a tool for building out new garrison towns. What is a Hebrew slave to mighty Pharaoh, a living god among his people?

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Fear and Forgiveness

Fear and Forgiveness

Dec 17, 2021 By Sarah Wolf | Commentary | Vayehi

ef; it can also reopen old wounds among relatives. This is what happens at the end of Parashat Vayehi, which is also the end of the book of Genesis, after the patriarch Jacob dies. Following Jacob’s death, his sons fear that things are not fully resolved in their family, and they become worried that their brother Joseph is still angry at them for the ways they mistreated him.

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“It is not up to you to finish the work” (Pirkei Avot 2:21): On Striving for the Unattainable

“It is not up to you to finish the work” (Pirkei Avot 2:21): On Striving for the Unattainable

Dec 13, 2021 By Alan Cooper | Public Event video

Some of the most dramatic moments in the Tanakh describe the completion of work—the creation of the world (Genesis); the fabrication of the Tabernacle (Exodus); and the construction of the Temple (Chronicles).  In contrast, at the end of chapter 2 of Pirkei Avot, Rabbi Tarfon admonishes us that while we are under pressure with much work, a tight deadline, a penchant for laziness, and a demanding boss, nevertheless “it is not up to [us] to finish the work.”

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