When Pharaoh tells the people to “cast (off)” the baby boys (Exodus 1:22), do we ask, horrified: How could any people behave as Pharaoh directs?! Or do we acknowledge that we are those people?
A few thoughts on diversity of place names, names for the divine, and ways of calling on, clinging to, and claiming land in this week's Torah reading. The portion is called Vayeitzei [And he left/went out], Gen 28:10-32:3 Naming land, Naming Ancestors: Genesis Genesis 31:47: Laban named it Yegar-sahadutha, but Jacob named it Gal-ed. Dictionary … Continue reading Ancestors and Names: Genesis and DC
Episode 6, based on the Torah portion Toldot, Gen 25:19-28:9. Two not thoughts on Esau and Jacob. "The Greatest Threat to Civilization..." by Rabbi Michael Dolgin, citing Pardes Yosef from the Lodz Ghetto. See also Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg. Genesis: The Beginning of Desire (Jewish Publication Society, 1995). Get a copy, if you can — or … Continue reading Brothers and Conflict
This is combined episode 4 and 5 of the book of Genesis, focusing on divisions in the narrative -- divisions in family, of ideology and of belief systems, and land -- as well as some points of (re-)union. This commentary covers both the Torah portion Vayeira, 18:1-22:24, read last week, and this week', Chayei Sarah, … Continue reading Separating and Unity
The story of Noah, and commentaries on what intersects with ideas of caste.
Abel's blood(s) cry out from the ground, and that informs ancient Jewish ideas about acceptable procedures in capital cases. What are the implications for police killings?
How can we avoid the kind of disaster the Yisrael-ites meet after sending out a scouting party from the wilderness (Numbers 13:1)?
Post-Revelation, week 2. This commentary looks at the exchange between Moses and his father-in-law about the latter's desire to go his own way, back home and not follow the Yisreal-ites on their journey away from Sinai (Numbers 10:29-32). The brief exchange is left open-ended, allowing for much commentary. Also allowing for us to pause and … Continue reading Leaving Sinai
Last week, we completed our 49-stage journey through the wilderness, the seven weeks from the Liberation holiday of Passover toward the Revelation holiday of Shavuot. We are now in the segment of the Jewish calendar that carries us from the high point of Revelation at Sinai to the low point of Tisha B'av, an observance … Continue reading Deceit and Breaking Faith
In "a wilderness" and/or "The Wilderness"? As one journey comes to a close, we continue through "the Wilderness" between the Sea of Reeds and the Jordan in our biblical story and through "a wilderness" of unknowns ahead in terms of politics, economics, and health.