Leadership lessons from Moses | Parashat Yitro

Rabbi Yuval Keren | Southgate Progressive Synagogue, London, UK Whenever we think of a Biblical role model for a leader – we think of Moses, our teacher. Yet even Moses was not entirely flawless, and even Moses sometimes needed help and guidance, and even Moses sometimes failed. When he first received his mission as he […]

Story and the Crafting of Identity | Parashat Beshalach

Rabbi Becky Hoffman | Associate Rabbi and Religious School Director, Kol Tikvah, Woodland Hills, CA We know the end of the story. Despite the size and power of the Egyptian army, the Israelites will become a free people. The victim will become the victor. The weak will defeat the mighty. But there is one odd […]

How is Bo Profoundly Linked to Bereshit?

Rabbi Joseph Edelheit | founding Rabbi of Associação Israelita Norte Paranaense (Beit Tikvá), Maringa, Brazil Whenever the Sidre Bo approaches, I always remember what I learned when I was a first-year rabbinic student, 1968-69, HUC-JIR-LA, studying up-on-the-hill! The course on commentaries was taught by Rabbi Dr. Stephen M. Passamaneck, z”l whose pedagogical presence was transformative. […]

The Power of Names | Parashat Shemot

Rabbi David A. Kunin | Jewish Community of Japan, Tokyo, Japan I have always been fascinated by the power both to give and to know names.  Rumpelstiltskin was, as many may recall, defeated when the princess learned his name, and so too did Odysseus suffer as he hubristically revealed his name to the cyclops.  In […]

The Imperative of Coming Together | Parashat Vayechi

Rabbi Linda Henry Goodman | Rabbi Emerita at Union Temple of Brooklyn, New York, US As an “only child,” I always have been particularly fascinated by the sibling relationships throughout the Book of Genesis.  I don’t know about all other “only children.”  But in my own fantasizing about what it would have been like to […]

Eastside, westside: whose side are you on? | Parashat Vayigash

Rabbi Michael Zedek | Emanuel Congregation, Chicago, US In modern “dress,” a wonderful, even smile inspiring midrash offers, “Had Reuben known his actions [in not rescuing Joseph from his brothers’ evil plans] would be in the Torah, he would have behaved differently.” Should you prefer the original text, see/look up/Google, Ruth Rabbah 5:6. Millennia and […]

Parashat Miketz

Rabbi Gersh Lazarow | Temple Beth Israel, St Kilda, Victoria “And Joseph recognised his brothers but the brothers did not recognise him.” In one of the great reversals in Tanakh, Joseph, whom we saw at the end of Vayeshev, languishing in prison, becomes in Miketz, a ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. It happens […]

The God Who Kills/The God Who Forgives | Parashat Vayeshev

Rabbi Rami Shapiro | One River Foundation Too often when reading Torah, we get hooked on the drama and miss the message. Parashat Vayeshev is a case in point. The story is so rich and well known—Joseph and his coat of many colors, Joseph sold into slavery, Joseph falsely accused of rape and thrown into […]

When Wrestling is More than Entertainment | Parashat Vayishlach

Rabbi Michael Zedek | Emanuel Congregation, Chicago, USA One of my most beloved teachers would offer, “Is the Bible the religious text of Western civilization because it is a great book, or is it a great book because it is the religious text of Western civilization?” Self-evidently, rabbis insist on the former conviction, and the […]

Dreaming in the State of Israel | Parashat Vayetze

Rabbi Stacey Blank | Kehilat Shir Chadash, Tzur Hadassah (outside of Jerusalem) Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, famously wrote, “If you will it, it is no dream.” The beginning of every great project is a dream. The idea of a Jewish State in the land of Israel had been a dream for almost 2000 years since the […]