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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Yitro

Yitro: Sacred Service

In this week’s reading (Yitro), the Israelites experience an extraordinary revelation at Mount Sinai. The content of that revelation includes the Ten Commandments. These days, I’ve been think a lot about the fourth of those divine utterances, the one about the Sabbath. “Six days you may work and do all your labor, it states, “but the seventh […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Beshalakh 2017

Beshalakh: From Bitter to Sweet

This week’s Torah portion (Beshalakh), includes Pharaoh’s pursuit of the Israelites and a miraculous escape made possible by the parting of the Sea of Reeds. There is an epic victory poem and a description of the prophetess Miriam leading the women in joyful celebration. Too bad the portion doesn’t continue on this uplifting note. Immediately after this […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Bo 2017

Bo: Liberating the Mixed Multitude

In this week’s Torah portion (Bo), the Children of Israel finally escape Egypt bondage. But they weren’t the only ones fleeing Pharaoh: A mixed multitude also went up with them  (Exodus 12:38) Commentators through the ages have had a lot to say about this mixed multitude (erev rav). Frankly, I find much of it to be, […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Vaera 2017

Vaera: In Defiance of Despair

This week’s Torah portion, Vaera, focuses on the power struggle between Pharaoh and Moses. Interestingly, even though this battle is on behalf of the Children of Israel, their response to the unfolding drama consists, in this reading, of just one verse: And Moses spoke–just as [God had instructed him] to the Children of Israel, but they […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Sermon: Heroines of Exocus and the Women's March on Washington

Sermon: Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity

This sermon was given on January 22, 2017 to the Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River. Yesterday, Jews around the world read from the first chapters of the biblical book of Exodus. And yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people—men, women and children, people of every gender and sexual expression, and all colors, ages and ability–participated […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Shemot

Shemot: A Passion for Compassion

This week’s reading (Shemot) opens the book of Exodus. I am particularly fond of this one because it includes a group of courageous and compassionate women. After connecting the end of Genesis with the beginning of Exodus, Shemot turns to the changed circumstances of the Israelites. A new pharaoh was in charge, and was worried about […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Pikudei 2016

Pikudei: Building a Sacred Space

This week’s reading, Pikudei, is the last one in the book of Exodus. It begins with an accounting of the materials used in the construction of the portable sanctuary and ends with God taking up residence (so to speak) within. In the middle of all of this, we read: Thus was completed all of the work of the mishkan ohel […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Vayakhel

Vayakhel: Start by Planning to Stop

This week’s portion, Vayakhel, describes the construction of the mishkan, the portable sanctuary that accompanied the Israelites on their wilderness journey. The focus is so complete that just one verse in the whole section considers any other topic. The reading begins with Moses gathering the community in order to give them assignments and instructions. But his first words […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Ki Tissa 2016

Ki Tissa: Imagining Catastrophes

With this week’s Torah reading, Ki Tissa, we return to narrative drama. Moses was alone on Mt. Sinai receiving the Torah, but the Children of Israel were having a different experience. Forty days had passed with no word from their liberator, leader and conduit to God. It’s no surprise that they were anxious: When the people saw […]

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Tetzaveh: Service from the Heart

This week’s Torah reading, Tetzaveh/Command, provides instructions for making the high priest’s ritual garments. Aaron and all subsequent high priests were commanded to wear these vestments whenever they entered the Tent of Meeting or approached the altar. The priestly garb included a woven breastplate (khoshen) set with precious stones inscribed with names of the twelve Israelite tribes.  Exodus […]

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