Torah Commentary

Torah Commentary

Seeing Ourselves in the Sacred Story

If I asked you to imagine yourself as a character in the Torah, who would you want to be? I like to ask this question when I teach midrash—creative interpretation of the biblical narrative—so that students can try on different personas and begin to see themselves in our sacred story.

In the Wilderness – B'midbar

This week's Torah portion and the book it comes from are called B'midbar, or, in the wilderness. The title comes from the first meaningful word in the text, in contrast to a title that is a summation of the text's core ideas. In the case of B'midbar, both ring true, for the Israelites in the Torah as well as for people today.

Embracing the Unknowable

We crave reason and predictability, but certainty is often elusive. Instead, we must embrace the unknowable. Fortunately, an approach to faith in which God is not beyond the world but immanent in it, helps us to recognize that rationality and spirituality are not only compatible but dependent on one another.

Are Women Counted in the Book of Numbers?

If I asked you to imagine a scientist in your mind’s eye, what image would emerge? A balding man in a white lab coat? A woman wearing thick glasses? A millennial glued to a laptop? How many of them would be women? This becomes relevant when we think of takin a census. Census-taking rolls like a sand dune through& Parashat B’midbar, which is also the Hebrew name for the fourth book of the Torah that we begin reading this week, known as the Book of Numbers in English. More than once in Numbers, God issues an order to count heads.