Twelve men, representative from each tribe, have been sent to reconnoitre the land of Israel, and they come back with the same report but with two different conclusions. The land is very good and fertile, but the inhabitants are strong. Ten believe that it would be impossible to take the land and it is better not to try, two insist that trusting in God and refusal to be afraid will mean that they will indeed succeed.
In Miketz, Finding New Female Role Models in the Torah To Talk About
In this weeks parsha, Miketz, Pharaoh has two dreams that need interpreting. You remember that in last week’s parsha, Joseph interpreted dreams for the chief cup bearer and baker. So the chief steward recommends Joseph interpret the dreams of pharaoh also. We only hear about the dreams of men! No women are included. Global studies show that girls are significantly less likely than boys to believe in their own ability to make their dreams come true. And our tradition, passed down by a male dominated society, often silences the voices, hopes and dreams of women. We don’t hear their stories enough in our traditional texts.Read More
I am an avid reader. I enjoy most genres and love to get suggestions from my colleagues and friends. I will start a novel just because a trusted friend recommended it, without researching its topic or other reviews. I also enjoy rereading the classics. Occasionally, when rereading a story, an image or a plot twist will seem different or raise a conflict which feel new to me. When I have that reaction to the new information, I push myself to continue and figure out why.
Finding good leaders for our congregations is an ongoing challenge, one that exists whether you are in Alaska or New Zealand. This week’s portion offers us guidance in finding the right leaders, in the story of two very minor characters.
The rabbinic conference in Columbus, Ohio 1937 must have been fraught and tense – the Reform movement in the United States was on the edge of redefining its relationship to a personal God and to Israel – and some rabbis felt that the core values of Reform Judaism were on the chopping block.
With Pesach the rain in Israel generally ends. But this past week we had quite a storm! The Hebrew language has multiple words for rain. Geshem is the most general word. Yoreh refers to the early rain. And malkosh the late rain. This week’s Torah portion, Behukotai, is one of many traditional Jewish sources that views rain as a reward to the Jewish people for obeying the commandments:
Virtually, the entire book of Leviticus imagines God speaking to Moses. It is all instruction and no action. One significant departure into narrative is a striking little tale begun in Chapters 9 and 10, the ordination of Aaron and his four sons as priests (kohanim) for the people Israel, and the disastrous action of two of the sons that lead to their fiery death. The story concludes six chapters later, with the Torah portion, Acharei Mot. Depicted here—almost hidden among the thicket of priestly laws and regulations—is one of the most dramatic scenes in Torah: the first Day of Atonement.
The double-portion of Tazria-Metzora (Lev 12:1 – 15:33) presents a series of ritual purity instructions for Israelite priests, starting with procedures for women who have recently given birth, and shifting to the rules priests must follow to identify, quarantine, inspect, and ultimately, readmit to the community people with an ancient skin disease called tzara’at. In my first years working with b’nai mitzvah students, I repeatedly witnessed the disappointment of kids upon learning that Tazria-Metzora was their parashah. I would try to reassure them that, with help, they really would be able to find something relevant to their lives within these verses. The cultural distance, confusion, and even revulsion that many experience when encountering these parts of Leviticus are tough to overcome. And yet, with some cultural translation and an open mind, Leviticus can teach us a lot.
Sometimes change comes upon us in a flood without warning. On other occasions, we are warned beforehand, but often we don’t take heed of that inner voice giving us the preverbal heads-up. If we are to succeed in our endeavours and our future, we would do well to pay close attention to those little warnings (from that little voice within) that life provides us with.
Passover is on the way. Time to put away the hametz and get set for the “yumminess” provided by matzah. It’s not good enough to just avoid purchasing leavened goods; rather we must actively seek out any remnants of these items in the house and dispose of them. Or at the very least, loan them out. We engage our broomsticks and search for and sweep up those leftover crumbs. Just as important, we need to identify the metaphorical hametz that provides excuses for our inaction. This too ought to be a planned precise procedure. We know deep down in our hearts that in emerging from the winter months, we should gear ourselves up for renewal. Passover is a perfectly suited opportunity to inspire us to serve as advocates for a compassionate globe.
It’s wonderful having an office overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. When the weather is nice I sometimes skip lunch in favor of exploring the winding alleys of Jerusalem. It’s an opportunity for a bit of much needed exercise in addition to amazing people watching and window shopping. During one of these recent lunchtime outings […]