Rosh Hashanah Torah Readings

Rosh Hashanah Torah Readings

By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Collected Resources | Va'era | Vayera | Rosh Hashanah

Both of the Torah readings for Rosh Hashanah are taken from Parsha Vayera. The first day reading tracks the birth of Isaac, the exile of Hagar and the subsequent saving of Ishmael. The Akedah or Binding of Isaac is read on the second day.

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Lessons from Lot’s Daughters

Lessons from Lot’s Daughters

Oct 22, 2021 By Abby Eisenberg | Commentary | Vayera

Parashat Vayera is the fourth Torah portion after Simhat Torah, the celebration of our annual Torah reading cycle and the culmination of the fall holidays. As we begin the new year, we also begin anew our exploration of ancestral family dynamics. Arguably one of the most famous parent-child scenes in all of literature can be found in Vayera: that of Abraham bringing Isaac to offer him as sacrifice. The parashah also contains another version of child sacrifice when Lot, Abraham’s nephew, subjects his unnamed daughters to assault and danger. From the tragedy of Jephthah’s daughter to the boldness of the daughters of Zelofehad, relationships between fathers and daughters in Tanakh are both deeply troubling and inspiring. The story of Lot and his daughters is certainly the former, and, perhaps surprisingly, potentially the latter.

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Running Far, Drawing Near

Running Far, Drawing Near

Nov 6, 2020 By Naomi Kalish | Commentary | Vayera

“Shalom, shalom to the one who is far away and to the one who is close.” Drawn from the Yom Kippur haftarah, the editors of Mahzor Lev Shalem used these words to open the high holiday prayer book. This year the words held a special poignancy, as each of us was simultaneously “the one who is far away” and “the one who is close.”

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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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The Legacy of Sodom

The Legacy of Sodom

Oct 26, 2018 By Steven Philp | Commentary | Vayera

Following the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra, Lot and his two daughters flee to the mountains above Zoar. They are stricken with fear, having witnessed the devastation of the two cities. They grieve the dead, a vast number that includes Lot’s wife, the mother of the two women, who—having paused to look back toward Sodom—was turned into a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:23–26). It is necessary to understand the emotional frame within which they are operating, as it underlies the following narrative.

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Women of Faith

Women of Faith

Nov 3, 2017 By Amy Kalmanofsky | Commentary | Vayera

Abraham passed God’s litmus test of faith. God commands Abraham to take his beloved son Isaac to the land of Moriah and kill him. Faithful Abraham does not hesitate. Genesis 22 may be the most loved and hated story in the Torah by every reader, no matter what their faith. Certainly, generations of Jews have struggled to make sense of this story, and of the father and God it portrays. 

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Tears that Unveil

Tears that Unveil

Nov 18, 2016 By Matthew Goldstone | Commentary | Vayera

Deep down, deep down inside, the eye would be destined not to see but to weep. For at the very moment they veil sight, tears would unveil what is proper to the eye.

—Jacques Derrida, Memoirs of the Blind (126)

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Itzik’s Journey

Itzik’s Journey

Nov 18, 2016 By David G. Roskies | Commentary | Vayera

He was our Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas: a Yiddish troubadour and hard-drinking lyric poet who wrote in regular rhymes and rhythms about the lives and unrequited loves of the downtrodden. His name was Itzik Manger, and the Bible was the book he loved most in the world, especially those parts that told an inside, personal story.

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