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Tag Archives: Torah Byte

Shoftim — Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9

“Justice, justice shall you pursue.” (Deuteronomy 16:20) What does it take to pursue justice in an unjust world? I think of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who commented that “human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of […] http://bethsholomsf.org/shoftim-deuteronomy-1618-219-2/ Continue Reading...

Re’eh — Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17

American naturalist-poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once remarked, “Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.“ Emerson’s 1836 essay, Nature, expresses the belief that everything in our world – even a drop of dew – is a microcosm of the universe. This transcendentalist notion is not foreign to Judaism, especially its […] http://bethsholomsf.org/reeh-deuteronomy-1126-1617-2/ Continue Reading...

Ekev — Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25

William Shakespeare once wrote, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” If a beneficent Creator created the world, is it merely a question of thinking that accounts for why bad things happen to good people? We are disturbed by such moral calculus. This week’s reading of Parashat Ekev provides us […] http://bethsholomsf.org/ekev-deuteronomy-712-1125-2/ Continue Reading...

Va’et’hanan — Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11

How does empathy resonate with you? American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson once remarked that, “Humans aren’t as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others, be they humans or other animals on Earth. So maybe part of our formal education should be training in empathy. Imagine how […] http://bethsholomsf.org/vaethanan-deuteronomy-323-711-2/ Continue Reading...

Devarim — Deuteronomy 1:1 – 3:22

The great American boxer Muhammad Ali once remarked: “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.“ When we turn to the repetition of the Law through its namesake (the Book of Deuteronomy, from deutero, meaning “repetition,” and nomos, meaning “law”), we find […] http://bethsholomsf.org/devarim-deuteronomy-11-322-2/ Continue Reading...

Matot / Massei — Numbers 30:2 – 36:13

Parashat Matot The final of the four tangible ways of measuring the intangibles of intentional community that I learned with Dr. Sarale Shadmi-Wortman (Oranim College of Education) during the Rabin Bay Area Leadership Mission to Israel is Meaningfulness: “My uniqueness is an important resource and influence for the group.” As we read this week in […] http://bethsholomsf.org/matot-massei-numbers-302-3613/ Continue Reading...

Pinhas — Numbers 25:10 – 30:1

“No matter how small a religion is, there will always be people within it who find some reason to break away and make it even smaller, a process that, of necessity, ultimately means conflict.“ This comment was offered by Reza Aslan, controversial sociologist of religion and host of Believer. So do we accept that belief […] http://bethsholomsf.org/pinhas-numbers-2510-301-2/ Continue Reading...

Balak — Numbers 22:2 – 25:9

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.“ Eleanor Roosevelt (b.1884) was one of the most outspoken women on human rights and women’s issues in the White House during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, her husband. This week, in Parashat Balak from the prophet Balaam, who was commissioned to curse the […] http://bethsholomsf.org/balak-numbers-222-259-2/ Continue Reading...

Chukat — Numbers 19:1 – 22:1

“The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the disenchantment of the world.” I am often struck by the prescience of 19th-century German sociologist Max Weber, author of the influential The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904-05). Notwithstanding the “disenchantment” that ensues in modernity with the […] http://bethsholomsf.org/chukat-numbers-191-221-2/ Continue Reading...

Korah — Numbers 16:1 – 18:32

During a brief visit to Dublin, the birthplace of Oscar Wilde (October 16, 1854), I was struck by the author, playwright, and poet’s quick wit and keen observations about human nature. Wilde once quipped that, “Arguments are extremely vulgar, for everyone in good society holds exactly the same opinion.” Torah, on the other hand, teaches […] http://bethsholomsf.org/korah-numbers-161-1832-2/ Continue Reading...