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Identity and Ethics: Knowing Who and Whose You Are

If someone tells you that Judaism is X or Y, you should never believe them. Judaism is such a complex civilization — it is made up of religion and culture, language and land, and a particular kind of peoplehood. ...  The Israelites’ preparations both to enter the Land and to create an ideal society are central motifs of Deuteronomy, and a particular focus of the extensive Parashat R’eih

D'var Torah By: 
Ruined with Greed
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Brent Gutmann

This past spring, I along with many Reform Jews participated in the revival of the Poor People’s Campaign. We sought to address the growing wealth gap in our country and its associated effects. For me, participating in this campaign was a primary Jewish act, as we read in this week’s Torah Portion, R’eih, “There shall be no needy among you” (Deut. 15:4).

Tear Down Their Altars

Parashat R’eih begins with a set of instructions for the Israelites to tear down the altars of other gods once they enter the Promised Land. By today’s standards, these instructions may appear to be harsh.

D'var Torah By: 
The Challenge of Growing Up
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis

By not destroying every instance of idolatry as commanded in Parashat R’eih, the people actually showed maturity and compassion.

Torah and Taliban: Is There Something in Common?

In a particularly graphic moment, one of the instructions received in our weekly reading is "...to destroy all the sites at which the nations you are to dispossess worshiped their gods, whether on lofty mountains and on hills or under any luxuriant tree. Tear down their altars, smash their pillars, put their sacred posts to the fire, and cut down the images of their gods, obliterating their name from that site" (Deuteronomy 12:2-3). This is a clear directive to destroy all the sites at which the native Canaanites worshipped throughout the sacred Land of Israel.

D'var Torah By: 
Following Difficult Instructions with a Goal to Pursue Peace
Davar Acher By: 
Suzy Stone

One of the most troubling aspects of this week's Torah portion is the commandment cited above in Deuteronomy 12:2-3, which requires the invading Israelites to destroy all forms, and places, of foreign worship.

As Rabbi Firestone notes, this commandment was limited to Land of Israel, which in turn limited the scope of this harsh decree. Additionally, I appreciate Rabbi Firestone's suggestion that this commandant was meant to mollify the temptation felt by a young nation coming into its own spiritual, and physical, home.

Looking on the Bright Side

Sometimes, I feel that a lot of people—including some Jews themselves—see Jews as a collective Eeyore. Take this quotation from A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh:

D'var Torah By: 
Challenged to Reduce Our Joy
Davar Acher By: 
Joel Mosbacher

I know, I know. It can seem like we’re a depressed people, always focusing on the negative. You know what they say about every Jewish holiday: “they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!”

R’eih: Food and Covenant

God blessed the first humans, told them to multiply and increase, and then instructed them: "Look, I have given you all the seed-bearing plants on the face of the earth, and every tree that has in

D'var Torah By: 
The New Kashrut
Davar Acher By: 
Mary L. Zamore

Rabbi Milgrom beautifully shares her father's (z"l) teaching on biblical kashrut and reminds us that our generation also upholds value-based food choices, as today we raise concerns about

Eco-Kosher's Biblical Roots

For almost twenty-five years, since his article, "Toward an Ethical Kashrut," was published with Rebecca Alpert in the journal Reconstructionist in the spring of 1987,1 Rabbi Ar

D'var Torah By: 
Tithing: A Modern-Day Mitzvah
Davar Acher By: 
Vicki Tuckman

In discussing ethical kashrut, Rabbi Aron demonstrates how we can find new meaning in an ancient concept.

Rosh Chodesh Elul

Parashat R'eih concludes with details concerning our sacred calendar (Deuteronomy 16). While other books tell of how to keep the holy days, here we see the reasons why.

D'var Torah By: 
Taking an Accounting on Rosh Chodesh Elul
Davar Acher By: 
Stanley R. Miles

During the twentieth century, we often referred to Reform Judaism as "living Judaism." Indeed our Movement's headquarters at 838 Fifth Avenue was known as the "House of Living Judaism." Rabbi Splan

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