Settling and Resettling the Land of Israel

Settling and Resettling the Land of Israel

Nov 6, 1993 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

God willing, I shall be in Israel when you read my thoughts on this week’s parasha. I leave Sunday evening to attend the commencement of the Seminary’s Beit Midrash in Jerusalem on November 3, at which we will confer some twenty-five degrees to Israeli students who have completed their course of studies either as rabbis, teachers, or community center workers. These young Israelis, and those who preceded them and those who will follow them, will in due time mainstream Conservative Judaism in Israel, thereby creating the reality of a religious alternative to Orthodoxy.

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Faith in Israel’s Destiny

Faith in Israel’s Destiny

Nov 22, 1997 By Morton M. Leifman <em>z”l</em> | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

This week’s Torah portion, Haye Sarah, provides us with yet another ancient episode that eventually contributed to the molding of the mythic consciousness of our people in a profound way. It begins with the death of Sarah and continues on with a lengthy description of the legal and business arrangements necessary for Abraham’s acquisition of land for Sarah’s burial. Abraham’s status in the land of Canaan is that of ger v’toshav, a resident alien, and though a man of great substance, even a person of renown, one honored in the community, his legal status required that he obtain special permission both from the owner of the land and from the community as a whole to buy and to own property. Members of the native clans were reluctant to confer full rights even to resident aliens — especially the right to land ownership which conceivably might deplete the holdings of the progeny of those currently blessed with political control.

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The Mitzvah of Welcoming Guests

The Mitzvah of Welcoming Guests

Nov 10, 2001 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

On our honeymoon in Jerusalem, almost ten years ago, my husband and I decided to attend Shabbat morning services at a Conservative minyan in the Baka neighborhood of the city. We didn’t know anyone personally in theminyan , but we had heard the davening was nice, intimate and egalitarian. We were not disappointed.

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Loving Kindness in the Torah

Loving Kindness in the Torah

Nov 6, 1999 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

We don’t pick spouses for our children anymore. But if we did, what trait would we single out as the best indicator of a happy marriage?

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The Torah’s Slip of the Tongue

The Torah’s Slip of the Tongue

Nov 25, 2000 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

There’s a certain delight in catching a person in a “slip of the tongue”, a so-called “Freudian slip”. Unintentionally, the person speaking has let us into his inner thoughts and revealed a concealed, sometimes profound, perception. In our Torah portion this week, we seem to be privy to just such a slip of the tongue – or slip of the text, in this instance – and it leads us to profound insights about the nature of human relationships.

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The Torah’s First Love

The Torah’s First Love

Nov 2, 2002 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

A newspaper reader knows from the headline what the topic of the article will be. Not so with the Torah. The title of each parashah is its first significant word; whether that word tells what will follow is somewhat up to chance. In Parashat No·ah, the title does tells us who will be the central focus of the narrative. In this week’s parashah, the title Hayyei Sarah seems to be irrelevant, misleading and yet, perhaps, fraught with meaning.

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“A Righteous Person Knows the Needs of His Beast.”

“A Righteous Person Knows the Needs of His Beast.”

Nov 6, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

This week’s parashah presents us with the first instance of a dating service.

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The Meaning of the Shalshelet

The Meaning of the Shalshelet

Nov 22, 2003 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

In 1981, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) published The Torah: A Modern Commentary, admirably edited by Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut. The first of the denominational commentaries, it combined an unflinchingly scholarly perspective with a reverence for traditional readings. Conspicuously absent, from the Hebrew text, however, was the trope, the musical notations by which the Torah is chanted in the synagogue. The omission reflected Reform practice: in most Reform synagogues where the Torah is read, it is literally read and not chanted. But the omission triggered a storm of criticism and the UAHC quickly put out a second edition that included the trope.

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