Torah Commentary

Torah Commentary

Splitting like a Fig

We often encounter paradoxes in life, things that appear to be mutually incompatible. Paradoxes sometimes appear in the unlikeliest places, and they deserve our close attention, like the one hiding in this week's parashah.

Parshat T'tzaveh: A Theology of Sacred Ecosystems and Interconnection

Brazilian nun and ecofeminist Ivone Gebara writes from the frontlines of climate and economic disaster. Attuned to the plurality of pains crying out locally and echoing across the globe, Gebara weaves together a theology of ecosystem and interconnection, one that recognizes the vast webs of relationship binding all life in shared fate. Gebara offers a vision for human and ecological flourishing that starts with an honest account of communal and environmental degradation.

What is Holy to God? Each of Us

In the second century, Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai and Rabbi Eliezer, son of Rabbi Yosei, traveled from the Galilee to Rome to plead for the repeal of a royal edict forbidding Shabbat, circumcision, and the laws of ritual purity.

What Is the Proper Attire to Wear in the Sanctuary?

Anyone who sees young children in “dress-up” clothes knows that a magical transformation has taken place. ... In Parashat T’tzaveh, we read a detailed description of the special clothing that Aaron and his sons, the recently appointed Israelite priests, are to wear when attending to their duties. God tells Moses:

The Burden of Leadership: Carrying the People with You at All Times

According to modern academic scholarship of the Bible – the critical approach embraced by progressive Judaism in its centers of higher learning – the Torah is made up of separate literary strands, written in different times and places, and holding different ideologies about ancient Jewish life. In this week’s parashahT’tzaveh, we see the P-strand, which stands for Priestly code and was likely composed by the priests’ heirs to Temple authority during the Babylonian exile after the defeat of the Judean kingdom in 586 B.C.E. Understood this way, we, as the biblical readers of today, might appreciate P’s representation of priest and Temple as a mythic argument for how the exiles can see through and beyond the upheaval and uprooting of their time.