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torah commentary
Holy history or sacred seeds?
Shabbat Chol Ha-Moed Sukkot 33:12-34:26 The Three Festivals we celebrate are powerful connectors of the Jewish people across time and space. Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot each provide essential connec...
Oct 01, 2015 | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend
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Ha’azinu ode on a biblical urn
Parshat Ha’azinu Deuteronomy 32:1 - 32:52 This week’s Torah portion of Ha’azinu contains a poetic narrative, and then in its conclusion it describes the last days of Moses’ life as he stood on Moun...
Sep 24, 2015 | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend
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The gift of our words
Parshat Vayelech, Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30 “Turn, O Israel, toward the Eternal, your God, that you may confess to your transgressions. Take with you words and turn to God saying, sweep away in forgiv...
Sep 16, 2015 | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend
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With help, support and inspiration
What are the prerequisites to convert to Judaism? If you could choose, what would they be? While some of our denominations have a very clear answer, others are more flexible. As a Reform rabbi, I h...
Sep 09, 2015 | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend
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Choosing a path
Parshat Ki Tavo, Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8 A person is led on the path that he (or she) truly wants to travel on. (Talmud Makkot 10b) If a person comes to purify him (or her) self, he (or she) will be ...
Sep 02, 2015 | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend
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Cultivating compassion
Ki Tetzei, Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19 Among the 72 mitzvot that are delineated in the parasha of Ki Tetzei, there is one that some consider to be an “easy” mitzvah. In Deuteronomy 22:6-7 we learn, “If...
Aug 27, 2015 | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend
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All Jews don’t look like Barbra Streisand
Yitro; Exodus 18:1-20:23
by Rabbi Sharyn Henry
Rodef Shalom Congregation
Feb 09, 2012 | 1 1 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend
As I write these words I am preparing for our congregational/community journey to Haiti. By the time you read them, I, along with 11 others from Pittsburgh, will be in Haiti, providing physical exa...
Line from yesterday to tomorrow a map for faith
Beshalach, Exodus 13:17-17:16
by Rabbi Ron Symons
Temple Sinai
Feb 02, 2012 | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend
Recently, while preparing for the 92nd Street Y Satellite Broadcast of Walter Issaacson speaking about his relationship with Steve Jobs, I was touched by Steve Jobs’ words: "Again, you can't connec...
Did God really harden Pharaoh’s heart?
Bo, Exodus 10:1-13:16
by Rabbi Martin William Shorr
Hadar Israel, New Castle
Jan 26, 2012 | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend
There are two points to be shared in this week’s portion, Bo: First is in the very beginning of the passage, “Come to Pharaoh for I have made his heart, and the heart of his servants hard, so my si...
Pausing to think
Vaera, Exodus 6:2-9:35
by Rabbi Nosson Sachs
UPMC Shadyside
Jan 18, 2012 | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend
Prior to the plague of hail, Pharoah and the people of Egypt were warned that anything left out in the field would be crushed and destroyed by the hail. The Torah relates that those who feared the ...
Get the name right!
Shemot, Exodus 1:1-6:1
by Rabbi Audrey Korotkin
Temple Beth Israel, Altoona
Jan 13, 2012 | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend
Days before my rabbinic ordination, I got a chance to see my smicha certificate for the first time — and was aghast. The calligrapher had gotten my Hebrew name wrong! Not mine, but my dad’s, which ...
Jacob’s ethical will
Jewish Vayechi, Genesis 47:28-50:26
by Rabbi Eli Seidma
Jewish Association on Aging
Jan 05, 2012 | 1 1 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend
In my work with Sivitz Jewish Hospice, I often help patients review the events of their lives and pass along wisdom and advice to the next generation. People discuss the decisions they made, the re...
The mitzva of taking
Vayigash, Genesis 44:18-47:27
by Rabbi Alex Greenbaum
Beth El Congregation of the South Hills
Dec 30, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend
No, not the “mitzva of giving” (although I know it is the season). I once met a man who explained to others that the reason we tear our garments at a time of mourning is to let others know to leave...
Where God fits into Chanuka
Miketz, Genesis, 41:1-44:17
by Rabbi Barbara AB Symons
Temple David, Monroeville
Dec 22, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend
I would like to get the bumper sticker that says, “Keep Christ in Christmas,” but I am afraid that people would take it the wrong way. My reasoning: The more that Christmas becomes secularized, the...
‘From darkness to light’
Veyeshev, Genesis 37:1-40:23
by Rabbi Amy B. Hertz
Rodef Shalom Congregation
Dec 15, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend
In this week’s Torah portion, Vayeshev, our patriarch Jacob learns of the supposed death of his beloved son Joseph. In point of fact, Joseph is not actually dead, but rather has been sold into slav...
What’s in a name? A lot!
Vayishlach, Genesis 32:4-36:43
by Rabbi Michael Werbow
Congregation Beth Shalom
Dec 08, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” — Shakespeare Each one of us received a name when we were born.  Our parents thought long and hard to give us a...