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Nitzavim: Turning Toward, Tuning In

Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Nitzavim 2106

Nitzavim: Turning Toward, Tuning In

This week’s reading (Nitzavim/You are Standing) comes just before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Because of this proximity, commentators old and new are drawn to the High Holiday themes that they find within it. And perhaps the most important theme is teshuvah.  I’m reluctant to translate that word into English. The most common rendering is “repentance”, but […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Ki Tavo 2016

Ki Tavo: Joy for the World

This week’s reading, Ki Tavo (When You Enter), opens with instructions for expressing gratitude, including a powerful ritual for offering first fruits to God. Once that ritual has been completed, the Israelites are instructed to celebrate their good fortune: You are to rejoice in all the good that YHVH, your God, has given you and your household; you, […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Ki Teitzei 2016

Ki Teitzei: Weights and Measures

Last week marked the beginning of the month of Elul in the Jewish calendar. Customarily, Elul is a period of reflective preparation for the Days of Awe. In this context, I can’t help but read this week’s Torah portion (Ki Teitzei) with the High Holidays in mind. Jewish tradition holds that during this period, our good […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Shoftim 2016

Shoftim: Guarding the Gates

I always feel a little sad when I come to this week’s reading.  Shoftim (Judges) is the last weekly commentary written by my teacher, Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank before his sudden death in 1998. Reb David introduced me to a new way of reading Torah. His work is the inspiration for (and often the source of) my own Torah reflections. […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Re'eh 2016

Re’eh: What You See Depends on How You Are

This week’s reading, Re’eh (See), opens with a dire warning:  See, I set before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing, if you keep the mitzvot of YHVH, your God…and the curse, if you do not keep the mitzvot of YHVH your God. (Deuteronomy 11:26-28) The most literal translation of the Hebrew word mitzvot (singular: mitzvah) is “commandments”. However, as […]

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