While none of us can completely fulfill all the teachings of the Torah, as did Jospeh in the poetic memory of our ancient teachers, we can, in our own way, make the Torah, the spiritual heritage of Am Yisrael, our own. To the extent that we can do so and let it transform us, we add our voice to the sacred conversation of the Jewish people.
Wrenched from the past
Brought into the present
A new man
Yet the same
Still the heal grabber
Now the one who struggles.
RRC continues its innovative distance-learning program with a second course from February 11 to May 4, 2007. A video introduction to the course is available at the RRC web site. You may also register online or e-mail Janis Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration is available now and continues through February 2, 2007. read more »
The new course, A Call to Leadership: Ancient Models, examines the nature of leadership through the lens of the prophets. Tamar Kamionkowski, Ph.D., RRC’s dean and chair of the Department of Biblical Civilization, is the instructor.
Dr. Ellen Dannin connects her personal story of caring for her ailing mother at Thanksgiving time with Jacob's journey and his epiphany:
... if we are to make the most of our short times here we must understand that past, present, and future exist in each moment. In this moment we are the beneficiaries of all the good and evil that has been done, and that what we do in each moment will be the heritage we pass on to future generations.
I was relieved to discover as an adult that Jewish commentators for 2000 years have wondered about this as well.
Four comments from classical Jewish texts give light to the moral ambiguities in the story.
Torah: Sarah died in Kiryat Arba... Abraham came to bewail Sarah, and to weep for her. (Genesis 23:2).
The narrative of the death of Sarah follows immediately on that of the binding of Isaac, because through the announcement of the binding—that her son had been made ready for sacrifice and had almost been sacrificed—her soul flew from her and she died (Pirkei D'Rebbe Eliezer 32).read more »
In a dvar-Torah for this week's portion, Vayera, Steve Masters, member of Congregation Mishkan Shalom and a board member of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom compares war to child sacrifice.
I want to suggest to you that it is hard to make the case that we as a culture no longer value human sacrifice. What is the respect and honor that all modern societies pay to their soldiers who were killed in battle other than the showing of respect and honor for their human sacrifice in the course of the fill-in-the-blank war?
Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.
You who choose to lead must follow,
But if you fall you fall alone,
If you should stand then who's to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home.
Torah is like the ripple. It emerges to teach without being pushed. But it takes a willful act of stopping in order that we notice.
Moses led, but in the end he had to be a follower. Ultimately we have to find the way for ourselves.
I - maybe we - tend to think of Our Story as encapsulated in the exodus from Mitzrayim and the entry into the Promised Land. But our story is more than leaving and arriving. Most of it is the story of living in the desert, of journeying, and of being on the way. And that certainly captures most of my life - and maybe our lives. Just as we want to skip over all those endless details of sacrifices, priestly vestments, sanctuaries, red heifers, and bizarre diseases, so too do we want to skip over or regard as of less interest the minutiae of each day. Between the high points, there is a lot of desert. Yet, can it be that what makes up the bulk of our lives is not worth paying attention to? read more »