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  1. Torah as Puzzle - DT Ki Tisa

    Reprinted by permission of the Cleveland Jewish News.

    This d'var Torah is one of a series influenced by the Me'am Loez Sephardic Torah commentary. 

    In Jewish tradition, God is not so much in the details as in the relationships that hold the details together. Ki Tisa, this week's Torah portion, offers several outstanding examples of the temporal and spatial location of events described in the Torah portion.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/torah-puzzle-rearranging-parts

    Posted on: 2017/03/08 - 5:06pm

  2. Why Be Good? DT Ki TIsa

    I used to have interesting conversations with a friend who had studied for the Catholic priesthood in his youth. We talked about questions of ethics and morality from the perspectives of our two traditions. In one conversation, I mentioned that Jews don't really concern themselves with an afterlife, that you can attend services year after year and never hear anything about what happens after death. My friend was shocked and asked, “Well, then, why be good?”

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/why-be-good

    Posted on: 2017/03/08 - 5:09pm

  3. Trying to Limit the Divine - DT Ki Tisa

    The overriding concern of the last portion of the Book of Exodus: how can one relate to God without shrinking God to the limitations of human insight and imagination? The bulk of the material, which begins with the Torah portion Terumah, deals with the intricate description of the construction of the Mishkan, the portable, tent-like sanctuary that was to be the spiritual center of Israelite life during the forty years of desert wandering.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/trying-limit-divine

    Posted on: 2017/03/08 - 5:15pm

  4. Pekudei DT Schein

    Traditionally, as we end a book of Torah, we both congratulate ourselves and resolve to study even more diligently in the future. We say hazak, hazak, v'nitkhazek: be strong, be strong, and strengthen one another.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/importance-vision

    Posted on: 2017/03/16 - 1:59pm

  5. Journeying from the Personal to the Communal - Vayakhel DT James Greene

    Up until this week’s portion, the Israelites are generally referred to as “b’nei Yisrael,” the Children of Israel. Only once had we been called, “beit Yisrael,” the House of Israel. It is with the completion of the Mishkan, the traveling sanctuary, that the people are generally called beit Yisrael, the House of Israel. We have been transformed from a people who share a common history, to a group of people who now share a common destiny.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/journeying-personal-communal

    Posted on: 2017/03/16 - 2:19pm

  6. Coming Together - DT SCR Vayak'hel

    Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan once taught that religious identity is based on the “three Bs” of believing, belonging, and behaving. Most religious traditions begin with a foundation of believing. Christianity, for example, is based in large measure on a belief in Jesus as the son of God, and the savior of human souls, on beliefs having to do with the nature of sin and salvation, and heaven and hell. Based on those beliefs, to be a good Christian requires certain behaviors that are the natural expressions of those beliefs.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/coming-together

    Posted on: 2017/03/16 - 2:26pm

  7. Vayikra DT SCR

    Sometimes I think that our Biblical ancestors were a lot wiser than we give them credit for. Every year when we get to this particular biblical book filled with graphic descriptions of animal sacrifices and offerings outlining in detail such rituals as the sprinkling of blood on the altar by the priests, along with a virtual “how to” manual for slaughtering a bull or a goat or a sheep and offering it up to God in a highly ritualized drama, most readers (myself included) begin to cringe.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/spiritual-tools-leviticus

    Posted on: 2017/03/23 - 8:14pm

  8. Drawing Close to Sacrifice - Vayikra DT Dannin

    When Adar comes in, our happiness is increased. But when Vayikra comes in, we feel as if the Promised Land of great stories and heroes is far, far away.

    Torah scholars through the centuries have tried to give us reasons to rejoice in these endless passages on the most minute and bloody details of sacrifices, but it is hard to say they have succeeded. Some point out that we are moving from a physical to a spiritual journey. After all, the book begins with the words “And God called.” Called - not just spoke.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/drawing-close-sacrifice

    Posted on: 2017/03/23 - 9:03pm

  9. Where Does the Spirit of Sacrifice Take Us - DT Vayikra Schein

    As we now begin our study of the book of Vayikra (Leviticus), we start with two observations:

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/where-does-spirit-sacrifice-take-us

    Posted on: 2017/03/23 - 9:10pm

  10. The Ascending Heart - DT Tzav Schein

    A colleague of mine once summarized the inner power of Judaism in the following way: Judaism challenges us “to ethicize ritual, and ritualize ethics.” Last week in this column we had a chance to explore what might be problematic in 20th/21st century Jewish life when ethics were stripped of ritual richness. This week, in parashat Tzav we see the opposite dynamic at work: the ethicizing of ritual.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/ascending-heart

    Posted on: 2017/03/28 - 3:52pm

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