Long ago, our rabbis realized that the Torah is very much like a beautiful orchard. From a distance, you may see only a grouping of trees. As you approach, you notice the leaves, the blossoms, and the fruit on the individual trees. When you come even closer, you may see the skin that covers the fruit. If you are persistent and peel back the skin, your reward is a delicious treat. Just like the orchard which at a distance is only a field of trees, concealed there are layers upon layers of wonderful things.

Many of the parshiyot (weekly portions) include multiple stories and themes, and each week focuses on a different one.

Rabbi’s Shabbat Table Talk includes: 1] the title of the parasha and a citation so that you may find the full text in your own copy of the Torah; 2] a couple of paragraphs about the theme for the portion; 3] an excerpt from the Torah text that will be the focus of discussion; 4] a short drash (teaching) on the text; 5] two or three questions each for children ages 3-5 and children ages 6-8; and 6] a suggestion for deeper study geared toward sophisticated learners and those who wish to spend more time on the topic.

Make Rabbi’s Shabbat Table Talk a ritual.

Have your discussion at the same time each week.

A suggested order is: put coins in the family tzedakah box, bless the candles, bless the children, bless the wine, bless the bread, serve the seudah (meal), discuss the parasha while eating, and conclude the meal with blessings or Shabbat songs.

Although the Rabbi’s Shabbat Table Talk guide is designed to stand on its own it is strongly encouraged that you acquire a Chumash (book containing the Torah text in Hebrew and English), or other commentary which you might find useful to supplement these commentaries from Rabbi Louchheim.

Sources for good Torah commentaries:

  • Torah: A Modern Commentary (Reform)
  • Eitz Hayim: Torah and Commentary (Conservative)
  • Sparks Beneath the Surface: A Spiritual Commentary on the Torah, by Larry Kushner & Kerry Olitzky
  • The Bedside Torah: Wisdom, Visions, and Dreams, by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
  • The Women’s Torah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Portions
  • The Modern Men’s Torah Commentary: New Insights from Jewish Men on the 54 Weekly Portions
  • The Image of God: A Feminist Commentary on the Torah, by Judith S. Antonelli
  • Essential Torah: A Complete Guide to the Five Books of Moses, by George Robinson
  • Voices of Torah: A Treasury of Rabbinic Gleanings on the Weekly Portions, Holidays and Special Shabbatot (Reform)

You may also wish to have a discussion about the themes presented each week with others.

To join the discussion, click here: Rabbi Louchheim Weekly Torah Portion on FACEBOOK.