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  1. The True Honor - DT Naso

    This week's Torah portion, Naso, concludes with the lengthy and detailed listing of the twelve identical offerings that the chieftains of the twelve tribes of Israel brought to the newly dedicated Mishkan, the portable shrine that served as our people's holy place from the early years of the desert wandering until Solomon's construction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Torah goes to great pains not to discriminate among the twelve tribes and their leaders. Each tribal leader is mentioned by name. Each gift is meticulously and identically described.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/true-honor

    Posted on: 2016/06/16 - 11:26am

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. Reconstructionist Torah Blessings

    The traditional blessing before reading from the Torah contains the phrase אֲשֶׁר בָּֽחַר בָּֽנוּ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים (asher bakhar banu mikol ha’amim) — “Praised are you Lord our God, ruler of the Universe, who has chosen us from among all peoples by giving us the Torah.”  The Reconstructionist version of that phrase is rewritten as אֲשֶׁר קֵרְבָנוּ לַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ (asher kervanu la’avodato), “who has drawn us to your service by giving us the Torah.” This change preserves the notion of Torah as our unique and prec

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/video/reconstructionist-blessing-torah-reading

    Posted on: 2016/06/16 - 5:06pm

  8. Peoplehood Educational Gifts from Kaplan Center

    Rabbi Jeffrey Schein has created a suite of educational resources on Jewish peoplehood, under the auspices of the Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood.

     

    The resources include:

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/video/jewish-peoplehood-educational-resources

    Posted on: 2016/06/28 - 10:41am

  9. Camp JRF Promo Video 2016

    This video was produced for Camp JRF by Perlow Productions.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/video/camp-jrf

    Posted on: 2016/07/22 - 2:07pm

  10. 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

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