Yom Shlishi, 10 Elul 5778
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The Way of Torah
(Commentary on portions of the Torah and Bible)

B'reisheet: In the Beginning—The Very Beginning ~~ The first Torah portion—B'reisheet—is not only the beginning of the Torah and the rest of the Bible, but also an opportunity to think about what it means to read a sacred text.
Generations—Tol'dot ~~ The congregation celebrated the occasion of fourteen congregants reading from Torah as B'not Mitzvah. The portion they read was Tol'dot, which contained the challenging story of Isaac's blessing of Jacob. How should we understand a tale of blindness and trickery?
Looking for God in All the Right Places—a Note on a Biblical Theme ~~ In the Genesis story of Joseph, God is absent. What are we readers to learn from this, and what might it teach us about our own searches for the divine in our lives?
The Hanukah Haftarot ~~ Hanukah is an eight-day observance. As a result, it will always include one Shabbat, and occasionally two (when the holiday begins on a Friday night). The cycle of Torah readings is not disrupted, as it is with other Festivals (Sukkot, Passover, etc.), but a special prophetic reading (Haftarah) replaces the usual one. ~~ One Torah portion in particular, Mikketz, falls during Hanukah far more often than not. It's regular haftarah is therefore rarely read. December 2000 was one of those rare times. The next time will be in 2020!
Darkness & Light ~~ In 2002 and 2003, the first candle of Hanukah was a Friday evening, thus the holiday extended over two Sabbaths. This will happen four times in the decade (06 and 09), but then not again until 2026. The relatively rarely heard second Haftarah of Hanukah is compared and contrasted with the first Haftara.
On the Shabbat immediately preceding the holiday of Purim, a difficult and controversial haftara (prophet section) is read. The passage describes King Saul following a commandment from God (relayed through the prophet Samuel) and exterminating the entire people called the Amelekites. Saul, however, spares the King (Agag), and for this reason, God declares that he has forfeited the monarchy. This essay is a discussion of how we might best understand this apparently bloody and pitiless biblical reading.
Where Do We Go from Here? Jewish Thoughts on Afterlife (2004)

Cycle of the Jewish Year - Shabbat & Holidays

Lieberman's Shabbat ~~ When Senator Joseph Lieberman was chosen to be Al Gore's running mate in 2000, much was made of his traditional Jewish practice, particularly of his observance of Shabbat. Just what might keeping Shabbat have meant to him, and to us.

Israel and the Middle East - The Enduring Drama

Israel 2005—A Unilateral Withdrawal

Contemporary Jewish Issues

Jews in Contact with Others

On Being a Reform Jew