Abraham sends his servant, Eliezer, to find a wife for his son Isaac. He is to choose a woman of good character. How does he determine that Rebecca is the one? The Midrash helps us understand the character that was revealed to Abraham’s servant: More
This week’s portion points to an important Jewish institutional value, “Welcoming the Stranger.” Abraham, in a new home, not even settled, invites three strangers in and provides a wonderful meal for them. Hospitality is not only a physical reality, but a spiritual one as well. Rabbi Freehof, may his memory be for a blessing, said we should be conscious of three types of hospitality: More
Lech l’cha literally means “Go for” or “to yourself” (perhaps, “within” yourself). As Rashi says, “Go for your own benefit, for your own good.” A spiritual quest is often one made alone, away from the comforts and influences found in one’s home. Avram begins a journey of religious awakening away from the possible objections of his father, taking a road that is at once unfamiliar to him and foreign to his family. More
This Torah portion provides the instructions on five types of sacrifices to be offered in the Tabernacle for God. The Hebrew word korban, literally meaning “bring near”, is most often translated as a “sacrifice” or an “offering.” In English these are two different things. A “sacrifice” is something you give up for God or for some greater good. An “offering” is a contribution, a gift, a presentation made to God or another person. For the modern reader (you all qualify), bringing an “offering” would seem to be a more “whole-hearted” gift. More
Congregations are an expression of God’s presence in the world and an expression of God’s love and care for all humankind. Congregations are places of beauty and simplicity, openness and acceptance, justice and peace. Can we do all that and be all that without belonging to a synagogue? Of course you can; but you would miss one key element. More
And God spoke to Noah and said, “In one year, I am going to make it rain and cover the whole earth with water until all flesh is destroyed, but I want you to save the righteous people and two of every kind of living thing on earth. Therefore, I am commanding you to build an Ark.”
In a flash of lightning, God delivered the specifications for an Ark. In fear and trembling, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the Ark. “Remember,” said God, “You must complete the Ark and bring everything aboard in one year.” More
Shabbat Table Talks
Despite God’s message that they will be redeemed from slavery, the Israelites’ spirits remain crushed. God instructs Moses and Aaron to deliver the Israelites from the land of Egypt. The genealogy of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and their descendants is recorded. Moses and Aaron perform a miracle with a snake and relate to Pharaoh God’s message to let the Israelites leave Egypt. God brings down the first seven plagues on Egypt: blood, frogs, lice, insects, animal disease, boils, and hail. After each episode, Pharaoh reneges on his offer to let the Israelites leave Egypt to worship God. More
“Let me go over, I pray, and see the good land…” (Deut 3:25).
Moses is asking God to let him go into the Promised Land. Is it not obvious that if he will go over into the land, he will be able to see it?
But a man must pray at all times that God may cause him to see the good in everything. Therefore Moses prayed: “Let me go over…and see the good land…cause me to see only the good side of the Promised Land.” More
The duties in the Mishkan of the Gershonites, Merarites, and Koathites are detailed. God speaks to Moses about ritually unclean people, repentant individuals, and possible cases of adultery. The obligations of a Nazirite vow are explained. God tells Moses how to teach Aaron and his sons the Priestly Blessing. Moses consecrates the Sanctuary, and the tribal chieftains bring offerings. More