Exodus 25:1 - 27:19
D'VAR TORAH BY: RABBI ANA BONNHEIM for ReformJudaism.org
Giving Gifts of Free Will
As the Torah continues the Israelites’ dramatic, people-building saga, Parashat T’rumah approaches the story from a new angle. Instead of developing the literary adventures of a no-longer-nascent people or focusing on the striking events at Mt. Sinai, this week’s Torah portion is about the details. And these details are not the specifics of community-building or daily life. Rather, they concern, in painstaking minutiae, the construction of the Tabernacle. This is a parashah about holiness, and in the case of Parashat T’rumah, the holiness is in the details.
Shabbat Shekalim - Mishpatim
Exodus 21:1 - 24:18
Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky for myjewishlearning.com
Who’s In, Who’s Out
The ordinances in this portion emphasize issues relevant to society and the interactions among groups.
Rules. Parameters. Boundaries. That’s what this Torah portion is all about. It’s also about that which sets apart ancient Israel from its neighbors. It is infrequent that the text is so self-evident that the reader can clearly determine whether the various things listed in the Torah are designed to keep Israel in, or those who are not part of Israel out. It actually might be one of the reasons why even those inside the community have trouble determining the extent of their commitment to following these regulations.
These rules seem mundane, especially when compared to the grandeur of the previous week’s scene at Mount Sinai, until close to its completion where we read “And the people beheld the God of Israel….” (Ex. 24:10).
Exodus 18:1 - 20:23
Rabbi Michelle Missagieh for myjewishlearning.com
What actually happened at Mount Sinai?
This week’s portion, Yitro, contains a deep memory of our people: the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
How do we remember this event in our people’s memory? Perhaps it’s the same way we remember family stories – differently.
All of us have sat around a holiday table reminiscing of past times … when, according to Uncle Joe, he fell off his bike while trying to impress a girl … or maybe Aunt Margie’s version was more accurate: The girl he was trying to impress pushed him off the bike. Or possibly it was the memory of when cousin Lucy vomited all over the Thanksgiving table because she ate an entire watermelon … or was Grandma Ethel’s version accurate: that Lucy got sick because she had stayed up all night studying for an exam?
Exodus 13:17 - 17:16
BY RABBI DEBORAH JOSELOW for myjewishlearning.com
Singing On The Way
Despite the fear and exhaustion of journeying from a dark, narrow place, we must remember to accompany our arrivals with song and joy.
This week’s Torah portion is Beshalach. From the Hebrew root meaning “to send,” the name of the portion reflects Pharaoh’s decree that the Israelite people may finally leave the land of Egypt.
For over 400 years, our ancestors were physically and spiritually enslaved. Their release was not only cause for joy but, more importantly, the basis of a mandate that continues to inform all of Jewish life and activity. Then and now, freedom for every one of God’s children is our constant and ultimate pursuit.
Exodus 10:1 - 13:16
Rabbi Suzanne Singer for myjewishlearning.com
Does One Crime Justify Another?
Understanding why God hardens Pharaoh's heart.
God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart in Exodus 10:1 presents a theological problem on two levels. First, if God is the agent of Pharaoh’s behavior, what does that imply about Pharaoh’s free will? Second, if God hardens Pharaoh’s heart in order to demonstrate God’s power, we must ask: At what price the Israelites’ liberation? Indeed, the ultimate result of Pharaoh’s stubbornness is the murder of every first-born Egyptian male. Even if we consider this to be retributive justice, payback for Pharaoh’s earlier order to kill all newborn Hebrew males, we still must ponder: Does one heinous crime justify another? And how do we come to terms with killing innocent children?
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