The ancient discomfort of ‘the ask’

This week’s Torah portion is Terumah, Exodus 25:1-27:19. A number of years back at a seminar with American Jewish World Service, I attended a 30-minute session on fundraising. “What can you possibly learn about fundraising in 30 minutes?” I thought to myself. As it turned out, in that amount of time you can learn two… Read More

When slaves had rights

This week’s Torah portion is Mishpatim, Exodus 21:1-24:18. The events leading up to the revelation at Sinai include the 10 plagues, Pharaoh relenting to Moses and the exodus to freedom by the former Hebrew slaves. A shared experience seared into the souls of the people begins a transformation of slaves into a free nation. The… Read More

The wearying matter of justice

This week’s Torah portion is Yitro, Exodus 18:1-20:23. Although the main topic of this week’s Torah portion is the receiving of the Ten Commandments, it begins with Moses’ father-in-law, Yitro, insisting that Moses set up a legal system for the Israelite community. Yitro sees Moses handling all the legal decisions and cases by himself, and… Read More

What it takes to split the sea

This week’s Torah portion is Beshelach, Exodus 13:17 – 17:16. Growing up, I learned the words to Mi Chamocha as a prayer in the prayer book. It was not until I learned Torah that I discovered those words came from this week’s Torah portion. The words of the prayer are found in the section known… Read More

Is seeing really believing?

Special to WJW This week’s Torah portion is Bo, Exodus 10:1-13:16. While there is great truth to the phrase “seeing is believing,” we know that it is not a complete truth. For while it frequently takes witnessing something to integrate it into our psyche and believe in its authenticity, the belief doesn’t always kick in… Read More

The civil disobedience of two unsung heroines

This week’s Torah portion is Shemot, Exodus 1:1–6:1. The Torah is filled with well-known heroic figures. But what about the unsung heroes and heroines? My favorites are encountered in the first chapter of Exodus. They are Shifra and Puah. When a new king ascends to the throne of Egypt, he doesn’t recognize the contributions that… Read More

Did a little white lie save the Jewish people?

This week’s Torah portion is Vayechi, Genesis 47:28-50:26. As the book of Genesis comes to a close, we learn that before Jacob dies after dwelling in Egypt for 17 years, he gives a poetic, individualized ethical testament to each of his sons. In a great funeral procession, Joseph, his brothers, and Pharaoh’s court bring Jacob’s… Read More

An argument in favor of anger

This week’s Torah portion is Vayigash, Genesis 44:18 – 47:27. Our Torah portion, Vayigash, brings us the end of the three parsha cycle of the Joseph story.  It picks up at a moment of suspense:  To test loyalty brothers’ loyalty to one another, Joseph has framed Benjamin for the crime of stealing Joseph’s silver goblet. … Read More

A single person can make a world of difference

This week’s Torah portion is Miketz, Genesis 41:1 – 44:17. A common greeting for Chanukah is “Chag Urim Sameach,” meaning happy holiday of lights. The Haftarah that we read on the first Shabbat of Chanukah is Zechariah 2:14-4:7. It contains mention of Zechariah’s vision of the menorah and its lamps or branches that stood and… Read More