/Torah Talks

Torah Talk for Parashat Bo

This week’s parasha tells the story of the last three plagues, the preparations that the Bnei Yisrael needed to make in order to leave Mitzrayim, and the actual exodus itself. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (19th Century Germany) has an interesting take on the order of the plagues. He connects the plagues to the original prophecy about Egyptian bondage that was given to Avraham during Brit Bein Ha’betarim, the Covenant between the Pieces, in Bereshit (Genesis) chapter 15. Read more>

January 16, 2018 |By |Author Type: Faculty and Staff |Topics: Torah Talks|Tags: |

Torah Talk for Parashat Vaera

In this parasha, God brings the first seven plagues upon the Egyptians through Moshe and Aharon, but Pharaoh repeatedly refuses to allow the Bnei Yisrael to leave. Were the plagues miracles, or did nature behave serendipitously at this time leading up to the Exodus? According to the Malbim (Meir Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Weiser), a nineteenth century Eastern European commentator, the two ideas are not mutually exclusive. Read more >

January 9, 2018 |By |Author Type: Faculty and Staff |Topics: Torah Talks|Tags: Parent-Child Learning|

Torah Talk for Parashat Shemot

In this parasha, Bnei Yisrael become slaves to Pharaoh; Hashem instructs Moshe to liberate the people; Moshe and Aharon approach Pharaoh, who refuses their request for liberation. We can all list the cast of characters involved in the Exodus: Moshe, Aharon, Miriam, Amram (Moshe’s father), Yocheved (Moshe’s mother), Yitro (Moshe’s father-in-law), Tziporah (Moshe’s wife), Yehoshua (Moshe’s right-hand man), Shifra and Puah (the midwives in chapter 1), and, of course, Paro (Pharaoh). The only character on …

January 3, 2018 |By |Author Type: Faculty and Staff |Topics: Torah Talks|Tags: Parent-Child Learning|

Torah Talk for Parashat Vayechi

In this parasha, Yaakov blesses his sons on his deathbed and asks them to bury him in Cana’an. This is the last parasha in the book of Bereshit. As we finish the first of the five books of Moshe, there is a note of hope, as indeed there is at the end of each of the books. The book of Bereshit is filled with conflict. It starts right at the beginning with the snake versus …

December 27, 2017 |By |Author Type: Faculty and Staff |Topics: Torah Talks|Tags: Parent-Child Learning|

Torah Talk for Parashat Vayigash

In this parasha, Yosef reveals his identity to his brothers, prompting the entire family to move to Egypt, where Yosef reunites with his father, Yaakov. There is a story in the Torah about a person who is banished from the Land of Yisrael and winds up living in a nearby country. The person’s innate beauty affects the course of their life. The character helps the local ruler with a major issue, which was recognized by …

December 19, 2017 |By |Author Type: Faculty and Staff |Topics: Torah Talks|Tags: Parent-Child Learning|

Torah Talk for Parashat Miketz

In this parasha, Yosef interprets Pharaoh’s dreams and is appointed to implement Egypt’s anti-famine plan. This brings him into contact with his brothers again, as they come to Egypt to buy food. Towards the end of the book of Bereshit, we encounter many tears. Interestingly enough, this crying is done exclusively by men. Read more >

December 12, 2017 |By |Author Type: Faculty and Staff |Topics: Torah Talks|Tags: Parent-Child Learning|

Torah Talk for Parashat Vayeshev

In this parasha, Yosef’s dreams anger his brothers, and they sell him into slavery in Egypt, where he eventually ends up in prison, still interpreting others’ dreams. Most of us recognize the names of the most famous twins in the Torah: Yaakov and Esav. In chapter 38, we encounter a second set of twins, which many people have never heard of: Peretz and Zerach, the sons of Yehuda, Yaakov’s third son. Read more >

December 5, 2017 |By |Author Type: Faculty and Staff |Topics: Torah Talks|Tags: Parent-Child Learning|

Torah Talk for Parashat Vayishlach

In this parasha, Yaakov confronts Esav, wrestles with a “man” who blesses him by changing his name to Yisrael, loses his wife Rachel in childbirth, and experiences the trauma of the incident with his daughter Deena. There is an event in this week’s parasha that often goes overlooked. In Chapter 35, verse 8 we read, “Devorah, Rivka’s nurse, died, and she was buried below Bet-el under the the oak; and he called its name Allon-bachut.” This verse is …

November 28, 2017 |By |Author Type: Faculty and Staff |Topics: Torah Talks|Tags: Parent-Child Learning|

Torah Talk for Parashat Vayetzei

In this parasha, Yaakov flees to his uncle Lavan’s household and lives there for several years, marrying Lavan’s daughters, Leah and Rachel, and establishing a large family. One of the challenges of living in the modern era is grappling with ethical questions and challenges generated by new technologies. One area of particular concern is medical ethics. Where can we, as Jews, find guidance on such things as genetic engineering, which includes cloning, stem cell research, …

November 20, 2017 |By |Author Type: Faculty and Staff |Topics: Torah Talks|Tags: Parent-Child Learning, STEM|

Torah Talk for Parashat Toldot

In this parasha, Rivka gives birth to twins, Esav and Yaakov, who struggle with each other, and Yaakov engages in bargaining and deception to obtain the birthright and Yitzchak’s blessing. Each of the brothers has an interesting name, or rather, two interesting names. Esav is also referred to as Edom, and Yaakov is renamed Yisrael after he struggles with the man/angel in Bereshit (Genesis) chapter 32. The Torah explains the origin of each of their names, but then …

November 14, 2017 |By |Author Type: Faculty and Staff |Topics: Torah Talks|Tags: Parent-Child Learning|