Teachings: Divrei Torah By Portion

Shir haShirim - Finding and Keeping Love

Last week my husband and I went to spend a day with a psychologist who has made a career of helping men and women have more loving and lasting relationships. The room was filled with hundreds of people—some single, some young marrieds, some who had been married for twenty or thirty years. All had come because they found it hard, if not impossible, to sustain the intense feelings of romance that had pulled them together in the first place.

Bereishit - Eden: A View from a Westward Window

by Chaia Kaplan

A girl just east of Eden
faced west with winged eye
and roamed around the honey
combing crevices of sky

“perhaps some place
- perched somewhere past
these frightful foreign flights
aloft, just west of Everplain,
a nestling in the heights…”

and at her westward window
(which she elbowed as she gazed)
her eyes upturned to paradise
an azure will to raise

Beshalakh - The Personal Wilderness

by Rabbi Shefa Gold

V’zimratYah is the part of me that knows how to surrender, that opens to the rhythm and
melody of God’s Song and gives itself unconditionally to "what is."
The Blessing

Tazria Metzora - Parsha Politics: Why Tza-ra’at is not Leprosy

When Miriam Hit the Stained Glass Ceiling

A condition called Tza-ra’at appears frequently in the Torah and occurs prominently in this section. We’ve seen the term previously: Magically coming and going upon Moses’ hand to convince Pharaoh; as a symptom manifested by Miriam which leads to Moses’ famous prayer for her healing (ana el na r’fa na la); and in our reading it even is used to described a substance growing or appearing on houses, garments, hair and beards.

No One Remembers Their Names

Commentary created together with Ronya Geller 

"I want to study with you Reb Goldie!"

"What would you like to study?" I asked?

"Girls." She answered.

"In the Torah?"

"Yes, silly, we’re supposed to study Torah together."

"OK, which girls should we study?"

Noach - Feeling "Held"

By Rabbi Shefa Gold

The Blessing

Yitro - The Cohen of Midian

by Tzeitl Locher

Yitro, the Cohen of Midian, father-in-law of Moshe, heard everything that G'd did to Moshe
and to Israel His people- that Hashem had taken out of Egypt. (Chapter 18:1)

Tazria - Redeeming the Unredeemable

This Torah portion is largely concerned with laws of bodily purity. The descriptions of bodily secretions and infections remind us that the kohanim, the priests, were the first dermatologists and infectious disease practitioners. How can you tell what is pure, tahor and what is impure, tamei? Tazria, as it is called, is the least popular Torah reading in the entire year’s cycle.

Shemini: The Danger of Holiness

The Danger of Holiness
by Seth F. Oppenheimer

A reflection on portion [Shemini, Leviticus 9:1-11:47] because, in the matters of Nadab and Abihu and of Uzzah I thought G-D was being a jerk. Yet if a man would fall to his death BASE jumping, I would not blame G-D.

Lech L'cha - Go to Yourself

The 13th century Biblical commentator, Hizkuni, explains that Avram (he was not yet called Abraham) had already left his homeland Ur of the Kasdim and was living in Haran. Therefore he was told to leave his land- Haran, and not to go back to his birthplace, Ur, AND to leave his father’s house, and to go where G-d would guide him.

Quite a journey! Leave where you are, don’t go back to where you were, and separate yourself from your parents’ home. Go- and G-d will show you the way.

Yitro - Sanity Practice

by Rabbi Shefa Gold

The Blessing

Acharei-Mot - My Birthday Parsha

by Barbara Diamond Goldin

I was born at 5:16 PM on the day of Erev Yom Kippur, October 4, 1946.

Vayera - Stranger Anxiety

by Rabbi Shefa Gold


The Blessing

Yitro - Midrash Matters

by Rabbi Joyce Reinitz

Also suitable for Shavuot. This imagery is inspired by the writing of Judith Plaskow in her book,"Standing Again at Sinai." Plaskow is troubled by the absence of women’s voices from our recorded history and tradition and calls for us to fill in the white space between the letters. These exercises are a means toward creating modern midrash that will speak to and for our entire people.

Ancient Eternal Words

Emor - Aunt Sadie & the Challah

This week’s Torah portion, more than any other, brings back precious memories, for it is the week of my Bat
Mitzvah, not at age 13, but at age 36.

I studied for nine months for this event with the ferocity of a tiger, rising each morning at 5:30 to go
downstairs and study. Remarkable, considering that I naturally am a late riser.

Vayera - I Wasn't about to Put a Pillar of Salt on My Bat Mitzvah Invitation

by Batya Yisraela

Upon preparing for my dvar torah, I came upon a woman worth recognizing and that was Lot’s wife, and I wasn’t about to put a pillar of salt on my bat mitzvah invitation. During my dvar torah you will learn why she is my hero and why she is so important in my heart. Then you will stop focusing on her being nameless, but realize the great deed she has done.

Yitro - A Revelation of Love

It was 1978, and I was tormented by an internal dilemma. Both daughters had chosen on their own to prepare for Bat Mitzvah, and I, I did not know why. Nothing in my Jewish upbringing had given me an answer to the fundamental question—why be Jewish. No experience in synagogue had given me a clue as to why the rituals and rites of reading Torah compelled Jews to pass this on, generation to generation, for over three thousand years.

Naso - Being True to Yourself

by Rabbi Shefa Gold

So shall they put my name upon the Israelites and I will bless them.

The Blessing

At this time of Naso we give and receive the great and ancient Priestly Blessing. Our arms are outstretched above the tumult of our lives and our hands imitate the cloven hoofs, invoking the power of the animals of our shepherding ancestors who bless this world through us. Through this blessing, God’s name (which means the Divine essence) rests on us.

Chayei Sarah - The Maids of Rebecca

by Rabbi Jill Hammer

The purpose of this monthly d'var Torah is to alert us to the most hidden and obscure female presences in the Torah, named or unnamed, and to use these hidden voices to understand our inner truths.

“And they blessed Rebecca and said to her:
Our sister, may you grow into thousands!
May your children inherit the gates of their enemies!”
Then Rebecca and her maids arose,
mounted the camels, and followed the man.
So the servant took Rebecca and went his way.”

Terumah - The Stones of Shoham

And YHVH spoke to Moses, saying: "Speak to the children of Israel that they bring me an offering…
avnei shoham (stones of onyx), and stones to be set, for the ephod..." Exodus, Shemot, 25:17

Ancient words, ancient garments, a call from the past. The avnei shoham, stones of onyx, were chosen to be the home for the tribes of Israel. The names of six tribes were inscribed on one stone, and the other six on the second stone. These stones of onyx were were worn by Aaron and his sons, the first priests or Kohanim of Israel.