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  1. Danger of Religious Fanaticism - DT Vayekhi

    [Editor's note: This piece was written for Martin Luther King weekend several years ago, and refers to specific events occuring at the time it was written. However, its insights remain relevant over a decade later.]

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/danger-religious-fanaticism

    Posted on: 2017/04/05 - 2:56pm

  2. Reconstructionist Radio: The Passover Seder

    This audio program, recorded in 1998, offers an overview of the structure, development and religious meanings of the haggadah and the Passover seder with Rabbis Joy Levitt and Richard Hirsh. It includes a special behind-the-scenes look at the Reconstructionist haggadah, A Night of Questions, and its accompanying music CD. This is an episode of Heart, Mind and Spirit: Reconstructionist Radio hosted by Rabbi Shawn Zevit. 

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/spoken-audio/reconstructionist-radio-passover-seder

    Posted on: 2017/04/05 - 4:18pm

  3. Shabbat Hagadol DT Howard Cohen

    The Shabbat before Pesach is known as Shabbat HaGadol: The Great Shabbat. The special nature of the day is highlighted with a haftarah selected from the prophet Malachi. The words of this anonymous prophet (the name Malachi simply means “my messenger”), who lived around the middle of the 5th century BCE, are remarkably contemporary sounding. A closer look at what he has to say can be simultaneously comforting and frightening.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/shabbat-hagadol

    Posted on: 2017/04/05 - 4:47pm

  4. Strange Fire DT Shemini Steve Nathan

    Instead of a traditional d'var Torah on Parashat Shemini, I chose to write an original midrash about Nadav and Avihu. These two sons of Aaron the High Priest, after seeing Divine fire come down from heaven and devour the first sacrifice made in the newly-dedicated Mishkan (Sanctuary), decide to take matters into their own hands. They bring a “strange fire” before God, that God had not commanded them, and their punishment was to then be devoured by Divine fire.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/strange-fire-midrash

    Posted on: 2017/04/17 - 11:47pm

  5. Tamar and Judah DT Vayeshev

    There is so much wonderful meat for discussion in the Joseph story that it is easy to skip or skim the story of Judah and Tamar — or of Tamar and Judah — to get back to the next installment of Joseph in Egypt. Even when read with care, it is not an easy story. Briefly, Judah, fresh from telling Jacob that Joseph has been killed, marries a Canaanite woman and has three sons, the eldest of whom, Er, marries Tamar. Er is killed by God for some unstated fault.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/tamar-and-judah

    Posted on: 2017/04/21 - 12:11pm

  6. Tzara'at and Selfishness DT Metzora Cohen

    Parshat Metzora deals with a peculiar condition called tzara’at that afflicts skin, surfaces of walls and clothing. This condition has long been erroneously translated into English as “leprosy.” However, tzara’at is not Hansen’s Disease, the clinical name for leprosy. For starters, the symptoms are not at all similar. Moreover, the rules associated with tzara’at do not make sense if the disease is contagious.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/tzaraat-and-selfishness

    Posted on: 2017/04/24 - 3:03pm

  7. Finding Healing in Separation DT Metzora

    This week's parashah is Metzora. In this parashah we continue the laws concerning the person with tzara'at (skin afflictions). We were informed in the last parashah, Tazria, that the person suffering from skin afflictions (commonly but inaccurately translated as leprosy) is to be kept separated from the camp until the priest has determined that s/he is healed. The person is considered ritually impure and in danger of contaminating the camp both physically and spiritually. The Torah does not distinguish physical illness as separate from the religious realm.

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/finding-healing-separation

    Posted on: 2017/04/24 - 3:34pm

  8. Birth of Humility - Tazria DT SCR

    This week is one of the least popular bar or bat mitzvah portions in all the Torah. It is filled with laws for how to recognize and treat leprosy when it is found on one’s body, one’s clothes or in one’s home. Most kids are a bit squeamish about skin diseases, so they search for anything else in the portion that they might talk about. 

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/birth-humility

    Posted on: 2017/04/24 - 4:36pm

  9. Illness and Connection - DT SCR Metzora

    It was one of those difficult weeks where nearly every day I received a phone call about either a sudden death in the community, or someone who had just discovered one form of cancer or another and was struggling with the “Why me?” question and the fear of death staring them in the face. It was also a week where I was reminded nearly every day of why Judaism places so much emphasis on the power of community as the foundation of our religious identity. 

    https://archive.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/illness-and-connection

    Posted on: 2017/04/24 - 4:39pm

  10. Life, Death and Holiness -- DT Acharei Mot / Kedoshim SCR

    This piece was written in 2002, during the second Intifidah. While the circumstances in question have changed, the teaching that emerged from them remains relevant today. 

    Tears and hope, fears and resolve, profound sadness and fierce determination – that is the mood in Israel this week. How ironic that this week’s double Torah portion is called “Akharey Mot/Kedoshim”, which translates as “After death — Holiness.” 

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

    Posted on: 2002/05/01 - 12:00am

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