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Tag Archives: Torah Byte

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-191-221-3/ Continue Reading...

Shelach Lecha — Numbers 13:1 – 15:41

“Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you are being watched and recorded.” This remark by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) subcontractor who made headlines in 2013 when he leaked top secret information about NSA surveillance activities, is indeed curious – and it has theological implications. In a wired, connected world in […] http://bethsholomsf.org/shelach-lecha-numbers-131-1541-2/ Continue Reading...

Beha’alotecha – Numbers 8:1 – 12:16

How does ritual allow for the building of community practice? Ongoing commitment to communal ritual requires trust. Another key for community building I learned from Dr. Sarale Shadmi-Wortman (Oranim College of Education) while on the Rabin Bay Area Leadership Mission to Israel is mutual trust. It is defined as the “willingness of individuals to join […] http://bethsholomsf.org/behaalotecha-numbers-81-1216-3/ Continue Reading...

Behar / Bechukotai – Leviticus 25:1 – 27:34

“Sowing the seed, my hand is one with the earth. …Hungry and trusting, my mind is one with the earth. Eating the fruit, my body is one with the earth.“ Wendell Berry’s poem “Prayers and Sayings of the Mad Farmer” asks us to consider how the farmer is like the farm. Similarly, the strong language […] http://bethsholomsf.org/behar-bechukotai-leviticus-251-2734-2/ Continue Reading...

Emor – Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23

This week’s reading builds upon last week’s distinction between the Priestly Torah, which focuses on the priestly views of ritual (as distinct from those of the masses), and the Holiness Code, which interweaves the priestly elements of ritual with popular customs. What further distinguishes Chapters 21 and 22 of Leviticus from the rest of the […] http://bethsholomsf.org/emor-leviticus-211-2423-3/ Continue Reading...

Acharei Mot / Kedoshim – Leviticus 16:1 – 20:27

In conversation with a Jewish artist, I once quipped that all artists must see their art as an offering to the Other Side. “What?!,” the artist exclaimed. In order to quell the energy of the negative forces in the universe, I explained, the mystical interpretation of many rituals, especially sacrifice, is understood as a way […] http://bethsholomsf.org/acharei-mot-kedoshim-leviticus-161-2027-2/ Continue Reading...

Pesach

“Roots, man — we’re talking about Jewish roots, you want to know more? Check on Elijah the prophet. … yeah — these are my roots, I suppose. Am I looking for them? … I ain’t looking for them in synagogues … I can tell you that much.” — Bob Dylan, 1983 Is the Messiah a […] http://bethsholomsf.org/pesach/ Continue Reading...

Vayikra — Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26

A strange miniature Aleph opens this week’s parsha, the only one of its kind in the Torah. What does it mean? In our study of the Zohar, we discovered the most remarkable insight: “A miniature aleph — deriving from a diminished place, diminished becoming great as it joins above.” The mystics understand this seemingly obscure […] http://bethsholomsf.org/vayikra-leviticus-11-526-3/ Continue Reading...

VayakhelPekudei — Exodus 35:1 – 40:38

The genius of every design by Steve Jobs (1955-2011) was an ability to understand what his community of users really wanted. Jobs was single-minded, and at times ruthless, in directing his designers to respond to community, to “have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Community is founded upon shared values and built upon […] http://bethsholomsf.org/vayakhel-exodus-351-3820-3/ Continue Reading...

Ki Tissa — Exodus 30:11 – 34:35

Construction of the Tabernacle is left to the wise-hearted artisans, Bezalel and Aholiav, and proceeds according to schedule, but Moses does not return from atop Mount Sinai exactly when expected (32:1). This leads the impatient Israelites to sculpt a molten calf of gold and worship it (32:6). When he finally returns, Moses sees his people […] http://bethsholomsf.org/ki-tissa-exodus-3011-3435-3/ Continue Reading...