Torah Commentary

Building with God in the Wilderness: A Theology of Just and Loving Communities

February 5, 2022Rabbi Hilly Haber
In a path-breaking1993 work entitled Sisters in the Wilderness: the Challenge of Womanist God-Talk, Delores Williams sets forth a theology of the wilderness centered in the experiences of African American women. Building from the particular and speaking with universal resonance, Williams identifies a wilderness ethic grounded in the values of: survival, relationship and resilience. For Williams, the wilderness is a place of both struggle and possibility - a place in which Hagar, a slave cast out of her home, is rescued by God so that she can ultimately mother her own nation into being.

Beyond Welcoming The Stranger

January 29, 2022Rabbi Hilly Haber
This week's parashah, Mishpatim, takes place against the backdrop of a borderland: the setting forth laws given at Mt. Sinai as the Israelites journey through the wilderness from slavery in Egypt to an unknown future in their own land.

The Radical Lessons of Revelation

January 22, 2022Rabbi Hilly Haber
The revelation at Sinai was a radical act: our Sages understood it as such, and contemporary scholars are still grappling with its implications. Its radical nature was apparent not only in the public and communal nature of the revelation, but also in the ways in which God's presence was described, and in the strikingly novel relationship that God creates with Israel.

A Clearing in the Wilderness of Egypt: In Gratitude to American Prophet Toni Morrison

January 15, 2022Rabbi Hilly Haber
In her book, Beloved, Toni Morrison describes a scene of revelatory, communal worship. In a clearing in the forest, protected by the trees, the broken-bodied and brokenhearted gather each week to pray together. In this week's parashah, we watch as the Israelites leave Egypt and begin their long march to freedom. As they joyously cross through the parted shores of the sea, they sing and dance in praise of God.

A Sign on Your Hand, A Reminder Between Your Eyes: An Embodied Jewish Theology of Solidarity and Liberation

January 8, 2022Rabbi Hilly Haber
In Parshat Bo, we are taught to retell and to embody the story of the Exodus. These commandments offer pathways to building Jewish theologies and communities which aspire toward liberation and solidarity, communities which hold up sacred text together with lived experience, which see in Jewish stories and histories deep wells of empathy and understanding with which to march in solidarity with all people on the path out of Egypt.