Teachings: Divrei Torah By Portion

Book of Ruth - The Torah of Ruth and Naomi

The year after my Bat Mitzvah at age 36, I longed to study as much about Judaism as I could. In those days, there were no "Introduction to Judaism" classes in almost every synagogue, as there are now. The only class that met my needs was one offered to prospective converts— "The Conversion Class," it was called. In that class, no question was too simple, or too naïve. All questions were welcomed. I felt at home.

Bereishit - Fruit from the Tree of Life

by Rabbi Joyce Reinitz

God sprouted from the earth every tree that is pleasant to see and good to eat.
The tree of life was in the midst of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

This visualization can also be read aloud to a group during a Tu Bi-Shevat seder for the fourth dimension of the seder experience, reaching into Atzilut, the realm of Essence.

Beshalakh - Miriam's Song

by Gabby Handler

Gabby Handler participated in Reclaiming Judaism's Bar/Bat Mitzvah Family Adventure Workshop series
which are available to be hosted by congregations and havurot. A new trend is for students to interpret
their Torah portion through the lens of their interests and talents, perhaps art, drama, music and in Gabby's case, beautiful, powerful poetry.

We had been dragging our tired feet along the burning sand
The dread of not knowing where we would end up
tore at our hearts.

Tazria - After Birth: Separation

by Rabbi Shefa Gold

The Blessing

These parshiot are concerned with the delicate times when one’s condition necessitates a period of separation from communal life. How does that separation happen and how is that person re-integrated into the community?

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.