The selfie with a cell phone might seem quintessentially 21st Century but Midrash on our parasha would suggest that there is an ancient precursor to this life-affirming use of self-reflecting imagery.
While modern readers associate Exod. 27:20-21 with the eternal lamp (ner tamid), when the sixth century CE poet Yannai set out to compose a liturgical poem (piyyut) for the week when the parashah began with these verses, he drew his inspiration from a different lamp: the seven-branched lampstand (menorah) that would become an emblem of the Temple and, to many, of Judaism as a whole.
Hanging in my office is a framed verse from this week’s Torah portion, Terumah – “They shall make a sanctuary for Me, and I will dwell in them”. (Exodus 25:8)
All of the different translations of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, have a philosophy, a way of going about their task. And part of that philosophy is wrestling with an important dilemma: How “smoothly” should you try to convey what the Bible, or in our case, the Torah, is trying to say?
Our Torah portion, parshat Yitro, finds Moses exhausted and overwhelmed. Can we blame him? He has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, having to deal with every single problem experienced by each Israelite. One can only imagine the mishegas he had to sort out over the course of an average day.
In parshat Beshalach, our people are about to cross the sea. We’re on the verge of freedom but before the story continues, we read that God has a plan to minimize our fear, our anxiety and even our regret. God will lead us on the slow path, through dry land, into and through the wilderness and eventually, to the Promised Land. God has a plan to try to minimize our trauma.
Rabbi Neal I Borovitz | Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Avodat Shalom, New Jersey, USA “VaYomer Adonai el Moshe Bo el Paroh” is the first clause of the opening verse of this week’s Parsha. Most English Bibles, based upon both Jewish and Christian scholarship, translate “Bo el Paroh “as a Divine command to Moses to: Go to […]
The Torah portion, Va’era, presents a profound paradigm shift, the revelation of a divine name/attribute heretofore unknown, even to our Patriarchs and Matriarchs.
This week, in our annual Torah reading cycle, we open the second book of the Torah, Exodus. Genesis has narrated our coming into being as an identifiable Jewish people. From the emergence of life as we know it, to the parents of all humanity, to questions about how we might behave better in society, to Abraham who leaves all he knows to begin afresh.
This week’s parasha illustrates a paradigm of human excellence at the time of illness and death. Joseph gave his father the most precious gift he could. He did not allow his father to die alone.