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

Understanding Jewish identity through Avraham

This week’s Torah portion is Lech Lecha, Genesis 12:1-17:27. With the opening words of this week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, we are introduced to Avraham, the figure who will legitimately serve as the forefather of the Jewish people. The Torah offers little introduction to who this person is and what brought him to merit such… Read More

For whose sake is Yizkor said?

Our Torah reading this week, taken from the parsha Ki Tissa, ends by mentioning Pesach and Shavuot, two of the pilgrimage holidays during which our ancestors would travel to Jerusalem and bring offerings of the first fruits of the soil. The third pilgrimage holiday is Sukkot. Linked in ancient times by the pilgrimage to Jerusalem,… Read More

Moses sings the Torah’s ending

This week’s Torah portion is Haazinu, Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52. There are three songs attributed to Moses: The Song of the Sea (Shirat Hayam); Psalm 90, also called A Prayer of Moses; and this week’s reading, Ha’azinu (The Song of Moses). In Haazinu, the final Torah portion, Moses is commanded to ascend Mount Nebo in the land… Read More