Deuteronomy 11:26 - 16:17
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson is Vice-President of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles and Dean of its Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies.
The gifts brought to the Temple for the pilgrimage festivals teach us the importance of preserving our unique identities.
Social pressure to conform is a steady and soul-deadening force. With relentless enticements, cultures seek ways to impose similarity of worldview, of behavior, even of thought upon their members. Even contemporary society, with its laudable commitment to individuality, imposes subtle mandates through the media, through the movies, through advertisements and in countless other ways.
Small wonder, then, that the truly free soul is rare. Indeed, for many who practice religion (and for many who flee religion), that conformity and habit are nowhere more imposing than in the realm of faith and ritual.
Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25
Rabbi Salomon Gruenwald has served as the Assistant Rabbi of Congregation HEA in Denver, CO since his ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles.
Helping a Stranger
Breaking down emotional barriers to empathy.
I participated in the AJWS Rabbinical Student Delegation to El Salvador because I thought I would find some answers to my questions about global poverty and development. Instead, I left with more questions.
I have held an ideological commitment to sustainable development, workers’ rights, and poverty reduction for a long time, but I have to admit that I have done relatively little to contribute to finding solutions. I give a modest amount annually to organizations like Oxfam and AJWS that work in the developing world. I vote in ways that I think will result in better policies for the world’s farmers and workers. I try to buy fair trade products. But, I have made few personal sacrifices.
Shabbat Nachamu - Vaetchanan
Deuteronomy 3:23 - 7:11
Rabbi Dorothy A. Richman teaches Torah in the Bay Area and is Rabbi of Makor Or: Jewish Meditation Center. Rabbinic Ordination, JTS.
Hear & Act
Primo Levi's poem gives us new insights into the Shema:
You who live secure
In your warm houses
Who return at evening to find
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider whether this is a man,
Who labors in the mud
Who knows no peace
Who fights for a crust of bread
Who dies at a yes or a no.
Consider whether this is a woman,
Without hair or name
With no more strength to remember
Eyes empty and womb cold
As a frog in winter.
Consider that this has been:
I commend these words to you.
Engrave them on your hearts
When you are in your house, when you walk on your way,
When you go to bed, when you rise.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your house crumble,
Disease render you powerless,
Your offspring avert their faces from you.
–Shema by Primo Levi
Shabbat Hazon - Devarim
Deuteronomy 1:1 - 3:22
Rabbi Lewis Warshauer teaches topics in Judaism to adult study groups in a variety of venues. Among his interests are family dynamics in the Bible and art as interpretation of Jewish texts. He was ordained at JTS.
Attributes of a Leader
Moses shares his views on leadership.
Much of the Book of Deuteronomy is taken up with Moses‘ farewell address to the Israelite nation. He has served his people as their leader in every sphere: military, administrative, judicial and spiritual. Now, he reviews the events of the 40 wilderness years, and presents, from his own perspective, a report of how he has led the nation.
Moses does not offer a dispassionate review of the past; to the contrary, he rebukes the nation for its failings.
Numbers 30:2 - 36:13
BY RABBI DOROTHY A. RICHMAN, Rabbi Martin Ballonoff Memorial Rabbi-in-Residence at Berkeley Hillel, for myjewishlearning.com
Creating Sustainable Freedom
All people must know that they have value.
Parashat Masei, the portion of journeys, begins with a recounting of the Israelites’ travels from slavery in Egypt to the borders of Israel. Yet within this re-telling of the Israelites’ trek comes a different journey: the path of a man-slayer into exile.
Powerful Priest and Accidental Killer
An entire chapter of the portion addresses the process by which an unintentional murderer is sent out of the community for his own protection. A person convicted of accidentally taking a life is sent to one of six cities of refuge. He lives there, guarded from his victim’s avenging relatives, until the natural death of the high priest (Numbers 35). If an exiled murderer wants to return home, his only recourse is to pray for the High Priest’s death.