Study the symbols of the Passover seder plate with Reconstructionist Rabbinical College President Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz. A 30-minute audio file and companion PDF text are downloadable from the RRC's web site.
This week's portion is Tzav and it falls on Shabbat Hagadol (The Big Shabbath), when it is traditional to talk about Pesah (Passover), rather than the parashat hashavua (the portion of the week). In this case, however, the week's reading relates to the coming hag (holiday), although not necessarily in an obvious way. The title is taken from the imperative form of the Hebrew verb, 'to command,' which has the same root as the noun for command, mitzvah, and is the first distinguishing word in the parashah.
May our experience of eating and being satisfied, help liberate the world from the illusion that resources are scarce and that we have to hoard.
U'mah she'shatinu, yih'yeh lirfuah read more »
And may what we drank, help us to be fluid and flexible, and to heal.
They are holy clothes, and they reflect many meanings of kavod, a word that means weightiness, dignity, and honor—and whose root is related to the word for a part of the body—the liver, the heaviest organ in the body. Every detail of these clothes is resonant with that complexity of meaning.
In this week's Torah portion (Mishpatim, Exodus 21:1 - 24:18) we learn of a close encounter on Mt. Sinai. In true Reconstructionist fashion, the word "or" is the key word in a dvar-Torah offered by Aaron Schuman (from Keddem Congregation). Here is one paragraph.
Or did they all see the God of Israel differently? Did each of the 74 people up on Sinai have a unique personal experience? Did they talk with one another afterwards, realize that they couldn’t come to a common description of their epiphany, and agree to leave the details unsaid?
Ellen Dannin looks at some of the laws written in the Mishpatim and challenges the reader to see their relevance, even if they may seem distant at first. Attending to the needs of our neighbors as well as the stranger are injunctions from the Torah which we must not avoid.
Mishpatim is full of injunctions which concern the society's care for its strangers. The Torah orders us to love the stranger or not oppress the stranger stranger thirty-six times. But here the issue is closer at hand. It regards the treatment of our neighbors, the people we live with and see every day.
Dr. Ellen Dannin has just written a dvar-Torah for this weeks Torah portion, Beshallah Here is an excerpt:
Consider Joseph. He was not just the pawn of fate. He sought answers, and he acted on them to elevate his life and the lives of those around him. On his deathbed, when he asked that his body be taken with the children of Egypt on their journeys, his presence could be a reminder of the need to live a purposeful life.
Rabbi Brant Rosen writes addressing this question.
Being omniscient, wouldn’t God automatically know the difference between an Israelite and an Egyptian house? Rashi answers this question by pointing to the words “a sign for you.” According to this interpretation, the blood on the door post is less a sign for God than it is for the Israelites - presumably as a reminder of God’s redemptive power.
After addressing the classic sources, Rabbi Rosen brings two "post-scripts" which are powerful applications of the need we have to mark, make concrete evidence of our ability to survive. Read it.
[Parashat Bo covers Exodus 10:1 - 13:16 -Ed.] read more »
Introduction:Parshat Bo brings us the last three plagues leading up to the Exodus; locusts, darkness, and the death of the first-born son. It is this last plague with which I struggle so deeply year after year. How could my ancestors have envisioned a God who would kill so many people in order to make us free?
We present divrei-Torah from the blogosphere for this week's portion, Va'era. The first two take an environmental approach: read more »