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

Joseph’s brothers weren’t big on gratitude

This week’s Torah portion is Vayeshev, Genesis 37:1— 40:23. As the oldest of four children, I know jealousy. I had to learn to share and cooperate with my siblings early on. It was not easy. In this week’s parsha, we read about Joseph, Israel’s favorite son, who received a coat of many colors from his… Read More

Glorious moment of fear and love

This week’s portion continues the story of Jacob’s physical, emotional and spiritual journey, his reconciliation with Esau and the tragedy surrounding the rape of Dina. As the portion begins, Jacob is returning home after having worked for his uncle Laban. He is with his family, servants and flocks, preparing to meet with his brother, Esau,… Read More

Love and marriage — and impulsiveness

It is difficult for me to understand, yet, my European-born father match-married several of his children from his first marriage, and was himself match-married at the age of 18 to a first cousin. This is in contrast to choice through love, and today’s use of JDate and speed dating.  The marriage of Abraham and Sarah… Read More

Questioning God, Abraham and ourselves

This week’s Torah portion is Vayera, Genesis 18:1-22:24. Vayera contains more narrative than almost any other Torah portion and more theologically and morally troubling issues than most. It includes the stories of the angels who promise Isaac’s birth, the argument between God and Abraham over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s rescue, the expulsion… Read More