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Destruction

Naming Naamah, Noach’s Wife (and the Other Torah Women Too)

In this week’s parashah, Noach, we hear from Noah’s unnamed wife. She reminds us that it is not easy being one of the women in the Torah. Although these women ensured the future of humanity and of our people Israel, too often they are unnamed, demonized, silenced, or forgotten.

D'var Torah By: 
Equal Parts of the Puzzle
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Zoe Klein Miles

In addition to the beautiful and powerful redemption of voices in Rabbi Kipnes’ teaching, there is something else that makes his piece on Parashat Noach deeply moving: a modern male rabbi calling out the historical silencing of female voices. 

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.

Finding Wholeheartedness in Your Life

In Parashat Noach, Noah is called an, ish tzaddik tamim, a “blameless” or “wholehearted person in his age.” But biblical commentators criticize his conduct, saying he lacked compassion for his fellow man and that he committed incest. What, then, is the meaning of the word tamim?

D'var Torah By: 
The Strength to Move Past Brokenness
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Jeffrey J. Sirkman

Parashat Noach shows how life’s struggles and challenges and changes wear and tear at our spirits. We face disappointments — in others or ourselves; defeat makes us feel, at times, as if the weight of the world is on our shoulders. Inescapably, life takes its toll. Yet it is not a matter of being whole, but rather about how, in our brokenness, we respond. Noah was an ish tamim when the only compassionate reaction was to be broken.

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?

Learning Lessons From and With God

In many ways, Parashat Noach is filled with as many theological problems as answers. Chief among them is why after creating the world and all living things, God destroys "all that lives under the heavens" (Genesis 6:17). The reason that God gives is the "violence" or "lawlessness" (chamas) of humankind. Yet what about such godly virtues as patience, love, and forgiveness? Apparently, God possesses less of them than one might wish. Does saving Noah, his family, and a male and female of all living species in order to ensure continued reproduction make up for God's actions? Is saving them a sign of mercy or of pragmatism?

D'var Torah By: 
Learning Lessons From and With God
Davar Acher By: 
Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus

Most of us are introduced to the Noah story as a fable for children. The adorable images of animals two-by-two, the ark floating on the rising waters, the dove with the olive branch in her beak — all these lead up to the beautiful rainbow in the sky, and they all lived happily after. Would that it were so. In her insightful d'var Torah, Dr. Umansky ponders the theological problems we confront in Parashat Noach, much deeper than the pediatric version we are so often presented. 

What Was that Noah Movie About, Anyway?

The movie Noah, released in theaters across America last year, generated its share of controversy among religious reviewers and bloggers.

D'var Torah By: 
The Building Blocks of Compassion
Davar Acher By: 
Michal Shekel

In Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice (Act 4, scene 1) Portia argues:

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven . . .

A Pillar of Salt: A Text Study

What was the essence of Lot's wife's transgression in Parashat Vayeira? Was it disobeying the instruction of the divine messengers? Was it simply looking back?

D'var Torah By: 
An Ethic of Observation
Davar Acher By: 
Betsy Torop

If you have ever been to the Dead Sea, you have surely been struck by the remarkable salt formations found in the region.

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