Shabbat Shekalim - Mishpatim

Posted on February 19th, 2017

Exodus 21:1−24:18 


D'var Torah By Rabbi BETH KALISCH for ReformJudaism.org


The Roots of the Amicus Brief


Following the giving of the Ten Commandments in last week’s Torah portion, Parashat Mishpatim brings us a diverse collection of civil, criminal, ritual, and ethical laws.Keyboard with scales-of-justice key Included in the parashah is a section of text that has become relevant to a topic that is highly contested in our day.

Next month, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Whole Woman's Health v. Cole, a challenge to a restrictive Texas abortion law. It will be the first time in more than 20 years that the Supreme Court has heard an abortion case.

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Yitro

Posted on February 12th, 2017

Exodus 18:1 - 20:26 75 


D'var Torah By Rabbi BETH KALISCH for ReformJudaism.org


Beyond the Noise


The Revelation on Mt. Sinai . . . the giving of the Ten Commandments . . . our Torah portion, Yitro, describes the scene with great fanfare. The text has given cinematographers plenty of good material: thunder and lightning, smoke rising up into the sky, the whole mountain shaking violently, and the loud blaring of a horn, sometimes specifically called a shofar. Miraculous? Inspiring? Awesome? Yes, our Sages teach, but it was also really, really noisy.

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Shabbat Shira and Tu B'Shevat B'Shalach

Posted on February 6th, 2017

EXODUS 13:17−17:16


D'VAR TORAH BY RABBI ANA BONNHEIM FOR REFORMJUDAISM.ORG


First Steps On The Path To The Promised Land


Redemption! Parashat B’shalach is a Torah portion of glory — glory in the Song at the Sea, the poetic celebration of liberation from Egyptian bondage, and glory in the details of the Israelites’ first steps out of Egypt.

The parashah begins with the verse that sets the scene for the entire next thematic section of the Book of Exodus, the Israelites’ early adventures wandering in the desert. Exodus 13:17 reads, “Now when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although it was nearer; for God said, ‘The people may have a change of heart when they see war, and return to Egypt.’ ”

To understand this verse, let’s break it down into a few sections:

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BO

Posted on January 30th, 2017

EXODUS 10:1−13:16


D'var Torah By Rabbi ANA BONNHEIM for ReformJudaism.org


Why Firstborns Are Such a Big Deal in the Torah


The research abounds: birth order has an impact on development. The Internet teems with articles on expected personality traits for firstborn and later-born children and, in a rare moment of consensus, experts agree that birth order matters.1 It influences a child’s need for attention, interest in interacting with adults versus peers, reactions to challenge and pressure, and relationship with parents. As the mother of two young sons (and a firstborn myself), I see evidence of this research daily and often wonder how birth order will affect my children’s lives.

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Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Shevat - Vaera

Posted on January 23rd, 2017

EXODUS 6:2−9:35 


D'var Torah By Rabbi Ana Bonnheim for ReformJudaism.org


The True Purpose of the Plagues


Parashat Va-eira is all action: the first six plagues descend on Egypt, and Pharaoh responds in kind, creating the dramatic and suspenseful story that will culminate in God redeeming the Israelite slaves from Egypt. The plagues are high drama, a fast-moving blockbuster film.

Blood. Frogs. Lice. Insects. Pestilence. Boils. My skin crawls and my scalp itches just writing about this batch of creepy, crawly, infectious plagues. The six plagues in Va-eira come in two sets of three plagues each (blood, frogs and lice; insects, pestilence and boils). In each set, Pharaoh is forewarned about the first two plagues and surprised by the third.1 And after each set, he refuses to free the Israelites.

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