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Circumcision

Traveling Down the Road That Helps You To Find Yourself

In The Fires of Spring, the late prolific American author, James Michener, wrote: “For this is the journey that humans make: to find themselves. ... " In this week’s parashahLech L’cha, we read a similar imperative to find purpose in life, to listen to and live — as your true self. 

D'var Torah By: 
Call and Response: The Hero’s Journey
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar

In this week’s parashahLech L’cha, I have always been more mystified by the call and response rather than the journey itself. God says to Abram, in the imperative, “you go” (Gen. 12:1).

Inversion Tactics: Deciding How to Interpret Words and Actions

Elie Wiesel shared these words with the world for Holocaust Remembrance Day: “I still believe that one minute before one dies, there may be hope in his or her heart—one minute before one dies, he or she is still immortal... " Ours is a tradition that relishes in the inversion of the expected.

D'var Torah By: 
Moving Past Discomfort to Delve into Difficult Texts
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Daniel Utley

Rabbi Spratt makes a valuable point suggesting that we invert this text of illness and affliction and find instead lessons that help us recognize blessings, in his words, “to invert labels of disparagement into monikers of might.” His teaching about viewing differences in our abilities and identities as positive aspects of who we are as human beings is both timely and profound.

Power to the People: Relying on a Collective Authority

Priest as physician. Spiritual blight as medical malady. Simmering beneath the descriptions of scaly skin and malignant discolorations in Parashat Tazria is a mode of power that challenges the modern mindset. A dominant few of paternal priestly lineage hold the knowledge and authority to diagnose, isolate, and adjudicate regarding leprous eruptions. The fate of those afflicted rests solely in the proclamations of the priests, who deem whether people are labeled “clean” or “unclean.”

D'var Torah By: 
Grappling with the Differentiations Between Female and Male that Are Embedded in the Text
Davar Acher By: 
Judith R. Baskin, Ph.D.

It is difficult to enter the world of Leviticus. It is a realm preoccupied with ritual purity and impurity, and a priestly space sanctified through sacrificial offerings and atonements. This foreign domain is ordered by hierarchical dualities that separate the divine and the created, the holy and the unholy, the human and other created beings, the clean and the unclean, the Israelite and the non-Israelite, the priest and the ordinary Israelite, the able-bodied and the disabled, the free and the enslaved, the adult and the child, and the male and the female. We see this in Parashat Tazria.

Sacrifice My Son? What Was I Thinking?

Did you ever wonder what Abraham thought about in the years following his “almost-sacrifice” of his son Isaac? In this midrashic monologue based on Parashat Vayeira, we imagine Abraham’s inner struggles:

D'var Torah By: 
What Were They Thinking?
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Paul Golomb

Few narratives in Torah are more intriguing and enigmatic as Abraham’s thwarted sacrifice of Isaac (the Akeidah, Genesis, Chapter 22) in Parashat Vayeira. It has been analyzed and interpreted by numerous readers from Maimonides to Woody Allen. Few (if any other) biblical stories are as challenging. Biblical scholars have wondered why the narrative was inserted in the text at all. 

The Challenge of Letting Go of Children

“Lech L’cha: Heartbreak and Hopefulness as Children Go Off and Move On,” is spoken-word poetry to dramatize the wide array of thoughts and feelings that occur to Abram's parents.

D'var Torah By: 
Can You Go Home Again?
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Noam Katz

“Toil on, son, and do not lose heart or hope. ..." is a message in Thomas Wolfe's classic novel, You Can’t Go Home AgainThe same themes apply as Abram embarks on his own road to self-actualization in Lech L'cha.

Finding Unique Blessings in Every One of Us

In the double portion, Tazria/M’tzora, we have the responsibility, even if it isn’t our pleasure, to investigate texts on birth and its aftermath, bodily afflictions and emissions, skin ailments, and leprosy. They were once taboos that raised fears in the community and turned priests of their day into guardians of purity.

D'var Torah By: 
Separation as a Path to Holiness
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Baht Weiss

A country road splits into two roadsRabbi Lyon begins

Judge a Society by Its Hospitality

In Vayeira, The people of Sodom and Gommorah are depicted as inhospitable, and even cruel, in their treatment of visitors and the poor. We can learn to become an open, welcoming society by following the opposite of their example. 

D'var Torah By: 
Individual Courage and the Value of One
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Jason Levine

In Vayeira, we learn some of the negative, as well as some of the positive traits of Lot, which are often overlooked. Lot shows us how the positive action of one person can make a difference.

Searching Oneself on the Way Forward

In Lech L’cha, God commands Abram and to travel on a physical journey “to the land that I will show you.” At the same time, God instructs Abram to look within, taking an inner spiritual journey within himself.

D'var Torah By: 
The Reward of a Journey
Davar Acher By: 
Zachary Herrmann

Looking at Parashat Lech L’cha, Rabbi Pearce analyzes Abraham’s departure and his difficult journeys: one a physical challenge, and the other a spiritual challenge. These journeys end with instant gratification: Abraham is given a new name by God for the spiritual journey and land for the physical journey. This inspires us to put our faith in God and be willing to leave everything we know for the greater good. The problem is that Abraham is rewarded at the end. With this example, are we learning that we should expect a tangible gift at the end of our efforts and journeys?

Judaism, Medical Science, and Spirituality: A Brief History

The double portion, Tazria/M'tzora, discusses the priests' treatment of various skin ailments. It demonstrates a positive relationship between Judaism and medicine that has developed throughout the centuries.

D'var Torah By: 
The Priest as a Social Worker
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Cookie Lea Olshein

While Tazria/M'tzora introduces the role of priests as medical healers, it also suggests that priests served as social workers and spiritual healers, helping make both human beings, and by extension, the community, whole again.

Covenantal Models of Protest and Submission

Vayeira is an especially challenging and memorable Torah portion for it provides us with two very different models of what it means to live in covenantal relationship with God.

D'var Torah By: 
Learning Assertiveness
Davar Acher By: 
Darah R. Lerner

Standing up for the rights of others is a hallmark of Jewish tradition. But how do we measure up when the need is in our own homes or for our own families?

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