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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Ha'azinu 2016

Ha’azinu: The Gift of Forgetfulness

This week’s reading, Ha’azinu (Give Ear), begins with a long poem known as the Song of Moses. It is in the midst of the Song that we find this verse: You forgot the Rock that birthed you…(Deuteronomy 32:18) Moses is chastising the Israelites for abandoning the God who, by liberating and guiding them, created a nation. […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Vayelekh

Vayelekh: Where did Moses Go?

This week’s Torah reading (Vayelekh) opens with the following verse: And Moses went and he spoke these words to all of Israel. (Deuteronomy 31:1) The text goes on to report the details of the last day of his life. Moses transfers leadership to Joshua, his second-in-command, finalizes a written version of Torah, instructs the people to gather annually […]

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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 | 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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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Ekev 2016

Ekev: Bless what Comes and Bless what Goes

This week’s reading, Ekev, is a continuation of Moses’ final orations. The portion includes promises, rebukes, reminders and a review of significant events. It also includes the following instruction: When you have eaten and have been be satisfied, bless… (Deuteronomy 8:10) A few verses later, Moses explains the importance of expressing gratitude once our desires have […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Va'etkhanan

Va’etkhanan: Paying Attention

I’m just back from a silent mindfulness and insight (vipassana) meditation retreat, so it’s no surprise that the following line from this week’s reading (Va’etkhanan) jumped out at me. After all, it sounds a lot like the meditation instructions I’d just received and diligently practiced. Watch your self so that you don’t forget the things […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Devarim

Devarim: Moving On

This week, we begin the fifth and final book of the Torah, known in English as Deuteronomy.  Devarim, the Hebrew title of the book is also the name of the first portion. Just a few verses in, Moses speaks the following words: YHVH our God spoke to us at Horeb, saying, “Long enough you have stayed […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Haazinu

Ha’azinu: Forgetting

This week’s Torah portion is a continuation of Moshe’s final oration. In it, he shares the last prophetic vision that will come through him. The Children of Israel will indeed enter the promised land and make it their home. They will prosper there, and grow. But the time will come when they will turn aside from […]

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