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  1. The Nazirite - DT Naso

    Jewish tradition teaches that the Torah yields 613 commandments, which are incumbent on the Jewish people. One would think that this daunting total would be sufficient for most Jews, yet this week's Torah portion, Naso, teaches of additional regulations which one could assume under the status of being a “Nazirite”, one consecrated to the service of God. The haftara (additional) reading for this Shabbat narrates the story of Sampson, who according to the Bible was himself a Nazirite. 

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/nazirite

    Posted on: 2016/06/16 - 11:29am

  2. Marriage - Bemidbar/Shavuot DT

    Shabbat Bemidbar usually falls near Shavuot: the day designated as the anniversary of the revelation of Torah at Mt. Sinai. According to a midrash Shavuot is like the wedding anniversary of God and the Jewish people. In Exodus as the revelation unfolds, the position of the Israelites is described with a phrase: בְּתַחְתִּ֥ית הָהָֽר/betakhtit ha-har, which figuratively means “at the base of the mountain” but literally means “under the mountain”. To explain this the rabbis said that Mount Sinai was held over the Israelites like a wedding huppah.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/covenant-marriage

    Posted on: 2016/06/16 - 12:53pm

  3. Nachshon - Jump vs. Pushed DT Bemidbar

    At first glance this week's parashah, Bemidbar, seems rather tedious. After all, it consists mainly of the names of the heads of all the tribes, given in the context of a census of the Israelites taking place about a year after the events at Mount Sinai. However, one name in the census jumped out at me: Nachshon ben Aminadav, the head of the tribe of Judah. Nachshon is a very famous character in the Midrash even though he is barely mentioned in the Torah.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/nachshon-did-he-jump-or-was-he-pushed

    Posted on: 2016/06/16 - 1:07pm

  4. Blessings and Curses DT Behukotai

    At the end of the traditional Birkat HaMazon, the Grace after the Meal, is a verse from the Book of Psalms that reads, “Once I was young and now I have grown old but I have never seen a righteous person abandoned nor his children begging for food” (Psalm 37:25). It is one of a series of biblical verses acknowledging God as the one who sustains all. There are many ways to sing the verse but I was taught to drop my voice when I came to this passage and recite it in a whisper. Why?

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/blessings-and-curses

    Posted on: 2016/06/16 - 1:12pm

  5. Land DT Behar

    Parashat Behar is primarily concerned with rules and regulations pertaining to the land of Israel. We read the description of the laws governing the sabbatical (“Shmitta”) years in which the land was to lie fallow one out of every seven years. We learn of the idea of the Jubilee year, which occurred every fifty years, when property that had passed out of a family by reason of economic necessity reverted to the original owners.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/land

    Posted on: 2016/06/16 - 1:27pm

  6. Raising Future Decision Makers - SCR community learning

    Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D. is a nationally recognized expert in the field of moral education and has written extensively on that topic. In this recording of a community teaching call, he discusses raising ethical children of character and share ten keys to leading your children to ethical choices in everyday life:

     

    CHILDREN OF CHARACTER:  Leading Your Children to Ethical Choices in Everyday Life

     

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/spoken-audio/raising-future-decision-makers-ten-keys-ethical-choices-everyday-life

    Posted on: 2016/07/01 - 12:25pm

  7. Nancy F-K Tazria Metzora Dvar Torah

    Last week there appeared in my mailbox at RRC, a book that I had never heard of by someone who was also unknown to me. The book is called The Plausible God: Secular Reflections on Liberal Jewish Theology. The author, Mitchell Silver, is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, and a devout secular Jew. His book was occasioned by a growing realization that all of his good philosophical arguments against religion were really arguments against traditional theism, the “old God” as he calls Him. And I use the word “Him” advisedly here.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/spoken-audio/why-do-we-pray-dvar-torah-tazriametzora

    Posted on: 2016/08/22 - 2:31am

  8. Elsie Stern Shavuot 2012 Audio Teaching

    Note: the following is a verbatim transcript for accessibility to the hearing-impaired. It has not been edited for general publication.

     

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/spoken-audio/here-there-and-everywhere%E2%80%94three-views-revelation-shavuot

    Posted on: 2016/08/22 - 3:02am

  9. Kaplan on Creation DT Bereyshit

    The account in Genesis is perplexing to the modern person. We inevitably get bogged down with the first chapter of the Bible because it seems to conflict with our knowledge that comes from the scientific study of the natural world. Mordecai Kaplan being the modern man par-excellence accepted the scientific view of the universe but realized, of course, that the Torah has a different perspective in telling us about the origin of things. In this selection he focuses on the connection between the creation of the world and God's attention to Israel.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/kaplan-creation-explanation-jewish-mission

    Posted on: 2016/08/22 - 10:05pm

  10. Shabbat and Holiness DT Bereyshit

    This week's parashah is the first in the Torah, Bereyshit. We are all familiar with the story of the creation that we read in these chapters of the Torah. However, the narrative still raised many questions for our rabbis and scholars. One of the many issues debated by the rabbis is the timing of humanity's creation in relationship to Shabbat. Rashi (12th century France) believed that God created Adam right before Shabbat so that he could immediately enter the holy and peaceful realm of Shabbat.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/shabbat-and-holiness

    Posted on: 2016/08/22 - 10:22pm

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