The Weekly Portion

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.

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Torah
Us and Them: Divide and Misrule – Shemot 5778

It just takes a few divisive speeches, a few divisive decrees – and the entire society is doomed, even if may take a while, even if it does not realise it yet. Our problem is not the ”Pharaoh who knew not Joseph”, but the modern Pharaohs who ”do not know” of this one, and what he did, and the price that his country eventually paid. Can modern political leaders learn from these lessons?

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Torah
VaYechi

The Torah portion Va’yechi is the concluding parsha of the first book of Torah, B’reishit.  It ends the narrative of the founding mothers and fathers of our folk and faith, and also concludes the complex and compelling story of Joseph.  As such, it has many aspects of endings, including Jacob’s death-bed blessings given to his sons and grandsons plus explicit instructions regarding his burial. 

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Torah
Chesed v´Emet: Love and Truth – Parashat Vayigash

The reconciliation between Yosef and his brothers is one of the most eloquent scenes, not just of the Bible, but of all World literature.

Let’s review the facts.  After having children with Leah and the 2 concubines, Yaakov finally has a son with his beloved Rachel, who he obviously spoils and overprotects above his brothers.  Young Yosef begins to have dreams of greatness, which he tells to his brothers, and as such he wins their hatred.

One day Yaakov sends Yosef to look for his brothers who were delayed.  Upon seeing him, they throw him in a well and want to kill him, but in the end they decide not to spill his blood themselves and instead sell him as a slave.  They take the special coat that Yaakov had given only to him, stain it with blood, and go and tell Yaakov that Yosef was killed by a beast. 

Imagine the pain of the old patriarch!

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Torah
Parashat Vayeshev

It is reasonable to assume that no one reading our weekly Torah portion, Vayeshev, will consider these innocuous lines of Torah to be of any particular importance. Coming as they do inside the dramatic first part of the Joseph story, the narrative which will continue until the end of the Book of Genesis, there seems no reason to take special note of this rather curious mention of “a man” meeting Joseph on his way to find his brothers and giving Joseph directions. Rather, the camera is fixed on Joseph, the major protagonist of the narrative, whose tragic life story begins to unfold in our Parasha. Tension mounts as we read about Joseph’s narcissistic dreams, his visions of grandeur, his preferential status in his father’s eyes and his antagonistic relationship with his brothers ending in his being sold into slavery and his eventual imprisonment in Egypt. With all these action scenes to cover in the Parasha, who would possibly pay attention to the few lines describing “the man” giving directions to Joseph.

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Torah
On Seeing the Face of God – Parashat Vayishlach

But Jacob said, “No, I pray you; if you would do me this favor, accept from me this gift; for to see your face is like seeing the face of God and you have received me favorably.” (Gen. 33:10) Few narratives in the Bible have touched me as deeply as does the story of Jacob’s reconciliation with his brother, Esau, as recounted in this week’s parashah.

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Torah
The Experience of God – Parashat Vayetze

He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky. (Gen. 28:2)

Jacob’s dream at Bethel is one of the most famous in biblical literature. Although he envisions angels (Hebrew: Malachei Elohim—literally, “messengers of God”), the text makes it clear that they only provide the setting, but that it is God who stands beside him and reiterates the promises made to his grandfather Abraham (Gen. 12:2) and his father, Isaac (Gen. 26:3-4), that his progeny will be prolific and “all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants.”

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Prayer
Hold Your Own World Union Shabbat Evening Service

Now your congregation can share a few moments with their Reform Jewish brothers and sisters worldwide on Shabbat by using the just-published World Union Shabbat Evening Service booklet. Featuring liturgical passages from services in the U.K., Russia, Spain, Italy, Poland, Holland and France, the service is a great opportunity to learn about communities abroad and generate interest in becoming involved with the World […]

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Torah
Who Are You? – Parashat Toldot

Were we to compare our patriarchs’ impact on Judaism, Isaac would be a distant third.  First place is a tie between his father Abraham, the champion of faith and hospitality, and his son Jacob, the spiritual wrestler. Isaac’s problem lies in how few columns in the Torah are devoted to him. Other than having survived the trauma of the Akedah, the information in parashat Toldot, is basically it. Isaac is best summed up as his father’s son and his son’s father. Like Abraham, Isaac experiences a famine and has his wife taken by a king. Like Jacob, Isaac’s future wife is discovered at a well. Even in Toldot which begins: This is the story of Isaac, son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac, the focus shifts in the very next verse to what will develop as Jacob’s story rather than the tale of Isaac.

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Torah
A Lesson On Respecting Women – Parashat Hayyai Sarah

We are living in an age when the news is filled with demeaning language and accusations of impropriety in the workplace. Whether it is well-known newsmen, movie moguls or politicians, women are treated as objects and worse. Many of the men assume their positions of power will keep them safe and insulated from accusations. While women who speak their mind are threatened, ridiculed and in some cases fired. It does not matter where you live—North America, Israel or Europe –women are fighting for dignity and respect.

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Torah
Open Your Tents Wide – Parashat Vayera

Imagine Abraham’s surprise!  There he was, minding his own business, resting in his tent in the hills near Hebron. Suddenly, God appears to Abraham. Without warning and without explanation. Looking up, Abraham sees the dust rising in the distance, and soon a group of strangers approach his tent.  Without hesitation, Abraham leaps to his feet, ignoring God, and ignoring the pain he feels from his recent entry into the covenant with God through circumcision, and instead turns to these visitors.

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