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Tag Archives: Torah Byte

Bo — Exodus 10:1–13:16

Insofar as it relates to modern life, religious scholars have cast the role of ritual in a certain light, understanding how it forms and informs our human societies and cultures through that preferred lens. In her renowned study, Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice (1992), the anthropologist of religion Catherine Bell challenges some of the assumptions that […] http://bethsholomsf.org/bo-exodus-101-1316-3/ Continue Reading...

Va’eira — Exodus 6:2-9:35

The self-revelation of the divine to Moses is a unique moment in our spiritual history and changes the face of monotheism forever. Emboldened and empowered, Moses and Aaron return before Pharaoh, demanding in the divine name, “Let my people go, so that they may serve Me in the wilderness.” Pharaoh’s recalcitrance leads to the moment […] http://bethsholomsf.org/vaeira-exodus-62-935-3/ Continue Reading...

Shemot — Exodus 1:1-6:1

To discover the nature of being human, there are those moments in life when you have to leave the known and venture into the unknown. The story is told about Prince Siddhartha who discovers the true nature of the human condition during an excursion outside the palace walls. In leaving the comfort of the palace, […] http://bethsholomsf.org/shemot-exodus-11-61-3/ Continue Reading...

Vayekhi — Genesis 47:28 – 50:26

One of the greatest malaises of Western civilization to this day was captured by Ernest Becker (1924-1974) in his book, Denial of Death. Becker points to the reality we know all too well, that we shield and mask death from our lives until it is too late. What we seek to mask, according to Becker, […] http://bethsholomsf.org/vayekhi-genesis-4728-5026-3/ Continue Reading...

Vayigash — Genesis 44:18 – 47:27

Great change happens with the smallest of steps. That change is captured poignantly in this week’s opening verse, when Judah selflessly pleads for the release of his brother, Benjamin: “Then Judah went up to [Joseph] and said: ‘Please, my lord…’” (Genesis 44:18). This is the dramatic moment where Judah is called upon to facilitate the […] http://bethsholomsf.org/vayigash-genesis-4418-4727-3/ Continue Reading...

Meiketz — Genesis 41:1 – 44:17

What happens when you are beyond eye-view? To be beyond eye-view is to fall into oblivion and be forgotten. Recall how Joseph was cast away by his brothers earlier in the narrative, thrown into that “empty pit [bor]; there was no water in it!” (Genesis 37:34). In prison, Joseph is also trapped in the emptiness […] http://bethsholomsf.org/meiketz-genesis-411-4417-3/ Continue Reading...

Vayeishev — Genesis 37:1 – 40:23

While quantum cosmologists claim there is no causation within the universe, we do not necessarily need a Hubble telescope to see how often life seems to overflow with an irreducible disorder and chaos. In our own family dynamic, for example, there is no shortage of jealousy, sibling rivalry, preferential treatment – all so integral to […] http://bethsholomsf.org/vayeishev-genesis-371-4023-3/ Continue Reading...

Vayishlach — Genesis 32:4–36:43

In our ongoing quest for wholeness in life, sometimes we feel instead as though we’ve become more broken than we were at the outset. Laban sees this in his analysis of Jacob when he suggests, in last week’s parsha, “you were longing for your father’s house.” (Genesis 31:30). If Jacob was indeed that ambiguous about […] http://bethsholomsf.org/vayishlach-genesis-324-3643-2/ Continue Reading...

Vayeitzai — Genesis 28:10 – 32:3

To flee from a challenging situation may strike us irresponsible. However, sometimes taking leave is not about fleeing, but taking hold of a new chapter in life. This is what is at stake in the opening words of this week’s reading: “Jacob took leave of Be’er Sheva and set out for Haran.” (Genesis 28:10) Jacob […] http://bethsholomsf.org/vayeitzai-genesis-2810-323-3/ Continue Reading...

Toldot — Genesis 25:19 – 28:9

As the children of Jacob, the perennial trickster, can we act sincerely and authentically in our own lives? In reading the account of Jacob’s behavior towards his elder sibling, Esau, whom he tricks out of his birthright blessing, Torah compels us to contemplate this dilemma in our own lives. The moment of deception leaves Esau […] http://bethsholomsf.org/toldot-genesis-2519-289-3/ Continue Reading...